Microsoft has released a new test build of Windows 11 that brings its more feature-filled search to the taskbar.
Search in Windows 10 and Windows 11 is now more than a tool to find files and apps, becoming a space where Microsoft can show graphical search highlights like anniversaries, special dates and related content to users. For the enterprise, it will also show work-related contacts and files.
Microsoft rolled out search highlights to Windows 11 on the Windows Insiders Dev Channel in March (and later to Windows 10 testers, too). It has now released the feature to the more stable Release Preview channel with Windows 11 Build 22000.776 (KB5014668).
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The Release Preview Channel is the version of Windows prior to its mainstream release. This build is for the original release of Windows 11, version 21H2, rather than the upcoming Windows 11 22H2 feature update due out around October but still, somewhat confusingly, in the Dev and Beta channels. (Microsoft in May split the Windows 11 22H2 Dev and Beta channels in two separate tracks as it gears up for its generally available release.)
Search highlights is rolling out gradually under a "phased and measured" approach to Windows 11 customers over the next several weeks before becoming broadly available in "coming months", according to Microsoft.
"Search highlights will present notable and interesting moments of what's special about each day – like holidays, anniversaries, and other educational moments in time both globally and in your region. To see search highlights, click or tap on the search icon on your taskbar," says Microsoft.
"For enterprise customers, search highlights will also feature the latest updates from your organization and suggest people, files, and more."
Once it's rolled out, users will see the taskbar search box and search home periodically update with content, such as illustrations and text in the search box. Users can hover over or click on illustrations in the search box to see more information.
Microsoft details how admins can use group configuration for search highlights in this blogpost.
Users will be able to shut off these new "Search Highlights" features by going to Settings > Privacy & Security " Search Settings and toggle "Show Search Highlights." And admins will be able to shut this off for users via the Microsoft 365 Admin Center. Here is more information on how admins can control this.
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Users can disable "Search Highlights" by going to Settings > Privacy & Security "Search Settings" and toggle "Show Search Highlights." Admins can shut this off for users via the Microsoft 365 Admin Center as detailed in Microsoft's official documents.
This build also contains dozens of bugs fixes for issues affecting PowerShell, Cloud Clipboard, Windows 11 upgrades, DirectX 12, Windows Sandbox, and numerous enterprise security features.
It also features a new policy in IE mode in Microsoft Edge browser that enables 'Save page as' functionality in IE mode, which Microsoft is pushing customers towards now that Internet Explorer 11 has reached end of life on Windows 10.