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The first Windows 11 update will arrive in February with prominence for Android apps

Microsoft will release the first major update to Windows 11 in February, to include some issues that were left pending in the launch of the system such as the Android subsystem for Windows, improve interface aspects such as the taskbar, and introduce some of the internal applications that are being redesigned, such as notepad and the media player.

This was announced on the Windows blog by the person in charge of the division, Panos Panay, under a headline that will not surprise you because it is repetitive: «A new era of the PC«. Microsoft believes that – from his hand – every few months we enter a new era because he said the same thing last summer. Do not take it into account; you know how these big executives handle marketing. And it is that the statements have been produced within the framework of the assessments of the financial results that we mentioned yesterday, with that income record and the rise of active Windows users up to 1,400 million. Good old Panay was animated.

Getting into the matter and for what concerns us, the head of Windows reported some information that until now we did not know, such as that «the rate of users who had accepted the offer of Windows 11 update was double what we saw for Windows 10«. Little to comment. We lack more specific data. Depending on the third-party analyst reporting, Windows 11’s share varies quite a bit, from just a few tenths to 9%.

windows 11 update

It also boasted of the ability of its ecosystem to add users through the purchase of new equipment. «For the launch of Windows 11, we mobilized the entire silicon industry, OEMs, retailers, and other partners to ensure that as many people as possible who wanted a new PC could buy one this holiday season.«. Nothing new here either. Confirm that Microsoft has a colossal domain of all channels and that a good part of the Windows quota comes from there.

And in the conclusions, more marketing, including that metaverse that we are going to have even in the soup: «Windows will continue to be the backbone of innovation, a destination for gaming, creativity and exploration, and a gateway to the Metaverse.«.

First Windows 11 update

Surely the need to have these computers ready for Christmas and to take advantage of the launches of the new Intel and AMD processors, the new graphics cards and to introduce new generation technologies such as DDR5 memories, forced us to accelerate the development of Windows 11. We talked about it at its launch: it was launched without many of the promised features, new applications, various bugs, interface elements to be polished and with a general feeling of Windows 10.5 rather than the promised revolution.

Additionally, Microsoft has changed the development model in the face of the two annual updates of Windows 10 and said that it would only release one major version each year. This does not mean that a Windows 11 update cannot arrive like the one announced for February with which the company updates the system. Among the announcements we highlight:

Android Subsystem for Windows

One of the most anticipated (and heralded) features for Windows 11 was the ability to run Android apps. Finally, its implementation did not arrive in time for the launch of the final version and users were left with honey on their lips. If this WSA sounds familiar to you, you are right, Microsoft follows the same strategy and objective as with the Linux Subsystem for Windows.

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Of course, if the WSL is aimed at developers and a handful of enthusiasts, this WSA has a much greater impact due to the potential use of any user. Microsoft has teamed up with Amazon so that the e-commerce giant’s Appstore, along with the revamped Microsoft Store, will serve mobile apps directly on Windows.

Microsoft will also use its own virtual machine for Android Open Source Project (AOSP) support, required when Play Store services are not available. The idea is to offer an experience similar to running a native application between Android and Windows using a proxy and from what we have seen in the Insider version, it will have notification center integration, multi-window support and interface level will work like those of Windows.

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This Android on Windows 11 will be supported on both ARM and x64 hardware architectures with a minimum of 8 Gbytes of RAM. Very interesting for the tens of millions of users who use Windows and Android on a daily basis. It will arrive in February for all users as a preview.

Taskbar

It is one of the main elements of the user interface of any operating system and that of Windows 11 urgently needs improvements, since although it offers greater visual appeal, it has worsened usability compared to previous systems. We have already talked about time pressure above, but it is still incomprehensible that it does not support some functions.

The main lack is drag and drop, present in Windows 10 and earlier, and used to increase productivity in workflows, for example by dragging a file into a pinned default app so that it opens in it. Or drag applications to the bar, something that cannot be done directly.

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Microsoft should fix this as a matter of urgency, though we haven’t seen it in test builds yet. We did see the introduction of the clock and date to the taskbar on secondary or multiple monitors, and various fixes to the Start, Search, Task View, Widgets, and Chat icons. For example, the Widgets button will move to the left edge instead of its center location and display weather information, such as the current temperature, directly on the taskbar.

Another news of interest. To help users collaborate with their contacts during video calls, Windows 11 will allow sharing open program windows directly from the taskbar. We can also adjust the volume by scrolling the mouse wheel over the volume icon on the taskbar and a new button will appear when specific applications are running, such as Teams, so that clicking it will mute or reactivate the microphone.

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The news announced are not bad, but without the function of drag and drop in this important element, the interface will remain lame. We will see.

Redesigned apps

Microsoft promised with Windows 11 to turn the entire operating system around including the applications that are delivered installed and that are part of the general experience of use. We have already seen the new Paint drawing/photo editor as an example and for the future we also expect improvements to the system tools. Perhaps the most anticipated of this group is the Windows file explorer. Very necessary although it will not arrive in this Windows 11 update.

yes we will have the new notebook. Notepad remains one of the most useful and used Windows applications that are delivered by default with the operating system. It hasn’t been renewed for years except for small updates in Windows Vista and the truth is that it looks very old compared to third-party solutions. We have already worked with the new version in Insiders and we liked it a lot as a breath of fresh air, especially in its interface.

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We see better system integration, revised UI with rounded corner windows, updated menus, a new settings page, and an effective dark mode. In addition to visuals, Microsoft has improved the search, locate, and replace functionality, and added support for multi-level undo, one of the features requested by the community.

Another of the additions will be the Media Player. It is a new media player that will replace the discontinued Groove Music as the default app for playing music and video in Windows 11. It maintains the approach of the classic Windows Media Player brought up to date with the ‘modern’ design implemented in Windows 11 and has the same name as the mythical Media Player development that was released in 1991 in Windows 3.0.

Eminently focused on running local content (although it is still under development and hopes to expand), it will have the typical functions of this type of software. It works like a music library to browse, search, and play music, as well as create and manage playlists. Same for video content. It has support for full screen view and also for a mini player, as well as keyboard shortcuts to improve accessibility features.

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In summary. Welcome to this Windows 11 update even if it is one of those considered ‘minor’ and we have to wait until next summer to see the great annual version. Very necessary to cross the barrier of a Windows 10.5 that needs much more if it wants to be the central point of that “new era for the PC” that Panos Panay promises.

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