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Windows 11 update brings two new natural voices: 'Jenny' and 'Aria'

Microsoft's latest Windows 11 updates focus on improved accessibility and better design.
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Written by Liam Tung, Contributor on

Microsoft continues to focus on accessibility in new Windows 11 features and has now introduced two new more natural-sounding voices called Jenny and Aria. 

The new voices are part of Microsoft's accessibility features for Windows 11's built-in Narrator screen-reading app that can be used to read out text from websites, email and documents. The feature relies on Microsoft's work on neural text-to-speech synthesis for on-device processing.

The two new voices, Jenny and Aria, will be offered when Narrator is first launched, which can be done by pressing the Windows key + Ctrl + Enter. It can also be configured to launch automatically at start up

SEE: Windows 11: Here's how to get Microsoft's free operating system update

The new voices join last week's improvements to Voice Access, another Windows 11 accessibility feature that offers a set of voice commands to substitute actions on the keyboard, touch, and mouse.  

The new Narrator voices can be tested in the Windows 11 Insider Preview build 22543, which Microsoft just released to the Dev Channel.

Users can install the new modern Narrator voices via a dialog that offers "Add natural voices". Users can install both voices but must install them separately. Microsoft notes that users may need to restart Narrator if the voice is not automatically switched on after downloading Aria.

Microsoft has also made it easier to switch between voices for tasks like reading and navigating with new and updated key combinations.

The new Narrator + Alt + the Minus key shortcut allows users to switch back to the previous voice in Narrator's voice settings combo box. Another shortcut, Narrator + Alt + the Plus key, moves to the next voice in the Narrator's voice settings combo box.

Microsoft continues to infuse Windows 11 features and apps with this release's overall design overhaul. Microsoft also continues to tweak improvements to the taskbar flyouts for hardware indicators, like volume controls, and has a refreshed progress ring animation for updates and Settings designs. 

This update refreshes media controls that appear on the Lock screen when playing music in supported apps. The volume flyout now also shows the level. In line with the Windows 11 design scheme, the flyouts have rounded edges and obey dark theme system settings. Also, the WIN + ALT + K keyboard shortcut for muting a call will now show a confirmation flyout.

The updated look of System > Storage > Disks & Volume and Storage Spaces in Settings looks more like Settings in Windows 11. 

"Certain options for the drive, volume, and space, like properties, are also now directly available inline on these pages as buttons without having to click that entry first," Microsoft notes.

Microsoft also lists several fixes for crashes affecting Windows Task Manager and OneNote. There are fixes for File Explorer, inputs, the taskbar, the Settings app, and windowing. 

Microsoft is also working on a fix for the taskbar widgets, which fails to display the temperature and other details if the taskbar is aligned to the left. 

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