With just over one week left before Microsoft releases Windows 11, the company has provided a new and very important build to testers on the Windows Insider Dev Channel that addresses several major problems with the new OS.
The fixes come in the Windows 11 Insider preview build number 22463 to the Dev Channel, the bleeding-edge branch of Windows 11 that includes features not necessarily included in the version of Windows 11 set to be released on October 5. But Microsoft will want to ensure that bug fixes do make it to the October 5 release.
That makes this Dev Channel build a very important one from Microsoft, and includes a ton of fixes that address major problems with Windows 11.
Over the past few weeks, Microsoft has been working on fixes for core user interface elements of the visually revamped Windows 11, such as the Taskbar, which has been beset by multiple problems that remained unfixed in recent updates for the safer Beta channel releases.
There are five distinct fixes to the Taskbar in Windows 11, including that app icons in the space are now "properly aligned and centered again", meaning that they shouldn't be truncated by the "show hidden icons" button when too many apps are open.
Microsoft has now properly center-aligned the notification count badge for notification center and fixed another issue with the Chat flyout. It has also improved explorer.exe reliability when Taskbar is used across several monitors and now ensures Taskbar previews conform to Accessibility text size settings.
Equally important fixes have arrived for Start on Windows 11, which now appears again as it should after right-clicking on the Start button or using the keyboard shortcut WIN + X.
It also addressed a bug that caused the Start menu to freeze with no app icons showing when a large number of apps were installed. Microsoft doesn't seem confident the fix will apply to all screen configurations. "This change is also believed to help improve Start launch reliability on secondary monitors in mixed DPI scenarios," Microsoft notes.
Other fixes to Start include:
- If the accessibility option "Always show scrollbars" is enabled, switching to the All apps list will no longer cause the scrollbar to escape the window boundaries during the transition animation.
- Pressing the down arrow after opening Start will now navigate into the pinned apps section instead of jumping to your username.
There are fixes for File Explorer too, which deals with a problem causing it to hang when doing a search.
Pressing F1 in File Explorer, for example, now correctly opens a search for Windows 11 help and not Windows 10, while selecting items under View, Sort by, and Group by submenus in the context menu will now display a mark to show they were selected.
These are small fixes but put together they're very important for a billion Windows users and Microsoft needs to fix them before releasing Windows 11 to the general public.
Adding to the complications of the Windows 11 rollout are Microsoft's hardware requirements. Microsoft this week released an updated version of the PC Health Check app to help Windows 10 users to find out if their hardware supports an upgrade to Windows 11 in line with Microsoft's strict hardware requirements. Many Windows 10 PCs bought before 2018, for example, won't be supported in Windows 11.
Text prediction for the touch keyboard and standard keyboards should actually work now and the touch keyboard should no longer crash when switching dock mode while the voice-typing UI is visible.
Microsoft notes that Windows Sandbox should now launch in this Dev Channel build, unlike in previous Dev Channel builds.
There's also a key fix for Windows Subsystem for Linux version 2 on Arm-based devices like the Surface Pro X.
"We have fixed the issue causing both WSL2 and Hyper-V to not work on ARM64 PCs such as the Surface Pro X in previous Dev Channel builds," Microsoft says.
There are however still several known issues afflicting Windows 11's Start and Taskbar — which still may flicker when switching input methods — and multiple problems remaining with Widgets.
"You might be unable to enter text when using Search from Start or the Taskbar," Microsoft warns.
The Widgets board is still basically broken, with the board appearing empty while widgets could be warped on external monitors. Search on the Microsoft Store is still not optimized.
Microsoft also posted a disclaimer about what's contained in the Dev Channel release with respect to the Windows 11 release on October 5.
"Build numbers are higher in the Dev Channel than the Windows 11 preview builds in the Beta Channel because we've moved the Dev Channel back to receiving builds from our active development branch (RS_PRERELEASE). This means the builds released to the Dev Channel no longer match the Windows 11 experience that will be released to customers on October 5th," it said.
"These builds are from the earliest stage in a new development cycle with the latest work-in-progress code from our engineers. These aren't always stable builds, and sometimes you will see issues that block key activities or require workarounds while flighting in the Dev Channel. It is important to make sure you read the known issues listed in our blog posts as we document many of these issues with each flight."