What’s New in Windows – July 2023

Windows 11 2022 Update

With the exception of Windows 11 Moment 3 landing for everyone in July, it’s been a fairly quiet month. But Insiders did get access to Windows Copilot and the new Outlook for Windows client and Microsoft revealed more about Windows 11 version 23H2.

Let’s get started!

Windows 11 Moment 3 generally available with July Patch Tuesday updates

The new “Moment 3” features for Windows 11 are now available to all 22H2 users with the July Patch Tuesday update (KB5028185). It feels like Microsoft made a meal of releasing Moment 3, with it being rolled out in stages but with nobody ever quite being sure who should have access.

Moment 3 brings several new features, like:

  • seconds in the system tray clock
  • a VPN status icon in the system tray
  • access key shortcuts in File Explorer
  • a new settings page for USB4 devices and presence sensors
  • support for extra languages in live captions.

The update also changes how some existing features work. The Print Screen button now opens the Snipping Tool by default. But you can change it back to the previous action. And Windows now displays a maximum of 20 recent tabs when using Alt + Tab and Snap Assist. Previously, it could be an unlimited number of recent tabs.

Windows Copilot and New Outlook come to the Dev Channel for Insiders

Windows 11 Insider build 23506 for Insiders on the Dev Channel comes with the Windows Copilot Preview. According to Paul Thurrott, Windows Copilot is a bit rubbish. And I’d be inclined to believe him. Although as Paul points out, it is early days.

Windows Copilot is an AI-powered assistant that helps users navigate Windows 11 using natural language. It can help with tasks like setting up new devices and installing apps. Copilot runs on Microsoft Edge and Bing Chat, so it is conversational and accepts natural language inputs.

Plus, the new web-based Outlook for Windows, which will replace the Mail and Calendar apps in 2024, is also available as an inbox app in this build. Outlook for Windows gets a modern UI and it includes many of the features found in the Mail and Calendar apps. But it promises improved search and better integration with Microsoft 365 services, like OneDrive and Teams.

Microsoft Store AI Hub rolling out to Insiders

Microsoft has started rolling out the new Microsoft Store AI Hub to Windows Insiders. The AI Hub offers a curated selection of AI-powered apps from Microsoft and third-party developers. It’s designed to educate customers on how to start and expand their AI journey, inspiring them to use AI in everyday ways to boost productivity, spark creativity, and more.

The hub features apps such as Luminar Neo and Lensa for image editing, Kickresume for resume building, and more. Also, the Microsoft Store update that’s now rolling out to Insiders provides more information on app pricing. It is now possible to see the lowest price products have dropped to in the past month.

Windows 11 23H2 will be an enablement package

This month, Microsoft revealed that Windows 11 23H2, the next annual update for the OS, will be released later this fall. The Windows IT Pro blog published a post that said Windows 11 23H2 will share the same servicing branch and codebase as Windows 11 version 22H2, which is the current version of Windows 11. And that means it will be available as an enablement package.

Enablement packages follow the same upgrade process as monthly cumulative updates or the less frequent ‘moment’ updates in that they don’t require a full reinstall of the operating system. New features are installed using a simple update procedure. The features are then simply ‘turned on’ when they are ready for general availability.

While we don’t know the full feature set for Windows 11 23H2, it’s likely to be a fairly minor update especially as Windows 11 23H2 will share the same codebase as Windows 11 22H2. The advantage for IT Pros is they “don’t need to worry about application or device compatibility between the versions”, according to Microsoft.

Windows Insiders get new 23H2 features

Windows 11 Insider build 22631.2050, which is part of the Windows 11 23H2 update branch, brings several new features with it. New consumer-facing changes are enabled by default, like the ability to use Windows Ink to handwrite anywhere you can type with a keyboard on Windows.

The build also includes the updated Windows ‘share dialog’ and lots of other new features including a modernized File Explorer Home, dynamic lighting settings for users with devices that have RGB lights, and a new volume mixer experience in Quick Settings.

Amazon Appstore generally available for Windows 11

Amazon’s Appstore for Android in Windows 11 is now generally available for developers. The Amazon Appstore offers a curated selection of Android apps that run on Windows 11 and the Windows Subsystem for Android (WSA). Microsoft says WSA provides a first-class experience for running Android apps but it only supports the Amazon Appstore, not the Google Play store.

You can find popular Android apps and games like Audible, TikTok, Lords Mobile, Hungry Shark Evolution, and Epic Seven. The Amazon Appstore is free and you can downloaded it from the Microsoft Store in Windows 11. It is available in the following countries:

Andorra, Australia, Austria, Canada, Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Cook Islands, Belgium, France, Germany, Gibraltar, Guernsey, Heard and McDonald Islands, Ireland, Isle of Man, Italy, Japan, Jersey, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, New Zealand, Niue, Norfolk Island, San Marino, Spain, Switzerland, Tokelau, the United Kingdom, the United States and Vatican City.

Microsoft Edge sidebar extensions

Microsoft Edge has announced that developers can now build extensions for the Sidebar. The Sidebar is a canvas for providing users with a productive experience. And sidebar extensions bring the power of browser extensions alongside browsing.

The Edge Sidebar provides a side-by-side browsing experience that lets users achieve more and enables developers to deliver improved experiences to users. It provides three additional functions for a tailored experience:

  1. default sidebar on every site
  2. sidebar enablement on specific sites
  3. and switching to a different sidebar

Enabling an extension for the Sidebar is easy. Developers need to add the “sidePanel” permission in their manifest file and set the “default_path” to “sidepanel.html”.

And that’s it for another month!