What’s New in Windows – March 2023

Windows 11 2022 Update

Apart from the release of Windows 11 22H2 Moment 2, it’s been a fairly quiet month. But not for Windows Insiders, where there’s been a ton of new features added.

So, let’s get started!

Windows 11 22H2 Moment 2 now generally available

The primary change in this update is to the Search box in the taskbar, which is now typable. There’s also partial integration with Bing A.I. While you can’t interact with the Bing A.I. chatbot directly in Windows 11, you do get the option to open Bing Chat when searching.

Other updates include the ability to access Windows Studio Effects from Quick Settings, assuming you have a compatible device. And the taskbar has been optimized for 2-in-1 devices. There’s now a swipe gesture to switch between collapsed and expanded states.

Windows 11 Start Menu recommended

For users who have joined their Windows 11 device to Azure Active Directory (Azure AD), there are also A.I-powered recommendations in the bottom half of the Start menu. As a reminder, Recommended on the Start menu displays files in Microsoft 365. I’ve read in several places that search is now faster in File Explorer and that it should better surface recommended local and cloud files. In my testing, it seems as slow as ever.

Quick Assist has got a minor design makeover and it is now installed by default on Windows 11 22H2 devices. It is also now available by default on the Start menu. But again, that doesn’t appear to be the case on devices that are upgrading to Moment 2.

Widgets gets third-party app support. At release, Facebook Messenger, Phone Link, and Spotify were added as new apps.

Notepad got tab support. The Windows 365 app was made generally available, and Windows 11 Phone Link gets iPhone support in preview.

Phone Link iOS support
Windows 11 Phone Link iOS support

Changes to app pinning in Windows 11

Microsoft wants to give users more control over the apps that get pinned to the desktop, Start, and the taskbar. Several new features are coming to help achieve that goal.

The first is a deep link URI for apps that takes users to the right location in the Windows 11 Settings app where they change defaults. There’s going to be a new API that will let apps pin primary or secondary tiles to the taskbar. The idea is to present users with a trusted and consistent Windows experience so it’s clear what is happening and provide the option for the user to confirm or deny the change.

App pinning in Windows 11

Microsoft Edge ‘video super resolution’

Edge Canary got a new feature called video super resolution (VSR). It automatically upscales low resolution videos. Providing you have a Nvidia RTX 20/30/40 series or AMD RX5700-RX7800 series graphics card, the device is plugged in, the video is less than 720p, and it’s not protected by Digital Rights Management, Edge will upscale the video.

Microsoft says it’s working on support for devices that have multiple GPUs.

Video super resolution in Microsoft Edge

Windows Insider Builds

Early in March, Microsoft announced changes to the Canary Channel, saying that it is going to be the place where preview platform changes are tested that require a longer lead time before a more general release. For example:

  • Changes to the Windows kernel
  • New APIs

Some of the changes tested in the new Canary Channel may never ship to customers. Microsoft notes that builds coming to the Canary Channel will have seen very little internal validation or testing before they are released. And with little documentation, so don’t expect a blog post to accompany every new build.

Nothing changes with the Dev Channel, it is where Microsoft will incubate news ideas and preview new features. Again, some features may never see a general release to customers. Insiders should note that the Dev Channel will continue to provide better platform stability over the Canary Channel.

So, bearing all that in mind, make sure that you switch to the channel that suits your needs best.

New English dialects for voice access

Windows 11 build 22624.1391 brings improvements to voice access. There’s a redesigned in-app command help page and support for new dialects including: English -UK, English – India, English – New Zealand, English – Canada, English – Australia.

Mixer, pizza, and auto color management

Windows 11 Insider Preview Build 25309 brings a new volume mixer experience to Quick Settings. And there are new options for touch keyboard settings:

  • Never – suppresses the touch keyboard even when there’s no keyboard attached
  • When no keyboard attached – shows the touch keyboard only when the device is used as a tablet
  • Always – shows the touch keyboard when the hardware keyboard is connected.

Auto Color Management (ACM), on qualifying Standard Dynamic Range (SDR) displays, can be switched on and colors across all Windows apps, color managed or not, are displayed accurately on all supported displays.

File Explorer gets a new pizza icon that denotes the user is working with the updated ‘Windows App SDK’ version of File Explorer.

Windows 11 File Explorer pizza

Theme aware widgets are now a thing – widgets will change appearance depending on the user’s Windows theme, i.e., light or dark.

Live caption languages and File Explorer XAML menu access keys

Windows 11 build 23403 gets more live caption languages. The original release of live captions supported English (United States). Now we get these languages:

  • Chinese (Simplified and Traditional)
  • French
  • German
  • Italian
  • Japanese
  • Portuguese (Brazil)
  • Spanish
  • other English dialects

File Explorer is getting access keys on the XAML context menu.

Access keys in the File Explorer XAML menu

LSA protection

Windows 11 Insider Preview Build 25314 introduces ‘LSA Protection Enablement on Upgrade’. This new option helps protect login credentials by preventing unsigned drivers and plugins loading into the Local Security Authority (LSA). Microsoft says:

Starting with on upgrade, we will audit for a period of time to check for incompatibilities with LSA protection. If we do not detect any incompatibilities, we will automatically turn on LSA Protection. You can check and change the enablement state of LSA protection in the Windows Security application under the Device Security > Core Isolation page.

LSA Protection Enablement on Upgrade

Windows 10 Build 19045.2787

Check out the Windows Blog for more information about Windows 10 Build 19045.2787 on the Release Preview Channel.

Microsoft account notifications on the Start menu, live kernel memory dumps in Task Manager, and a USB4 Settings page

Windows 11 Build 22621.1483 gets notifications for Microsoft accounts in the Start menu. Microsoft says the feature is only available to a small number of testers at the moment.

Windows 11 Insider Preview Build 23419 brought live kernel memory dumps in Task Manager and a new USB4 settings page in the Settings app. It will allow you to:

  • View the tree of connected USB4 hubs and devices
  • See attributes and capabilities of connected devices and hubs
  • Copy details so they can be shared with customer support or sysadmins

A larger widgets board, SHA-3 support, and improved Content Adaptive Brightness

Windows 11 Insider Preview Build 25324 has a widget board with a wider canvas along with sections for widgets and feed content.

Windows 11 larger Widgets board

This build also gets SHA-3 support:

  • Supported SHA-3 hash functions: SHA3-256, SHA3-384, SHA3-512 (SHA3-224 is not supported)
  • Supported SHA-3 HMAC algorithms: HMAC-SHA3-256, HMAC-SHA3-384, HMAC-SHA3-512
  • Supported SHA-3 derived algorithms: extendable-output functions (XOF) (SHAKE128, SHAKE256), customizable XOFs (cSHAKE128, cSHAKE256), and KMAC (KMAC128, KMAC256, KMACXOF128, KMACXOF256).

And unsafe password copy and paste warnings has been expanded to provide a UI warning on copy and paste actions, like currently when typing in a password.

Windows 11 Insider Preview Build 23424 gets improved Content Adaptive Brightness Control (CABC) on mobile devices where the OEM has enabled it. Now CABC runs on laptops and 2-in-1 devices when plugged into a charger.

And that’s it for another month!