Microsoft announces a bunch of new features coming to Windows 11 next month
Microsoft is preparing to roll out some new features to Windows 11 users in February, Windows chief Panos Panay announced today. In a blog post looking at the current state of Windows 11, the head of Microsoft’s Windows and hardware divisions also looked to the future, starting with Android apps.
However, the wording around Android apps is somewhat confusing. Here’s what Panay says in the blog post:
“Next month we’re bringing new experiences to Windows that include a public preview of how you can use Android apps on Windows 11 through the Microsoft Store and our partnerships with Amazon and Intel(…)”
This is strange because Android apps on Windows 11 are already available in preview right now. If you’re enrolled in the Windows Insider Beta or Dev channels, you can install the Windows Subsystem for Android and the Amazon Appstore and start installing apps. With some fiddling, you can even do that on non-Insider PCs. Most likely, this means that Microsoft is going to make Android apps available to all Windows 11 users, but you’ll have to install the Windows Subsystem for Android manually and it will still be labeled as a preview. If that’s the case, we still don’t know when Microsoft plans to consider this a “stable” feature.
In a recent article, our own Rich Woods noted that we’re three months into the experience of Android apps on Windows 11, and not a whole lot has changed. Maybe Microsoft is hoping to make some performance improvements in the future. We did reach out to Microsoft about this and will update this article if we hear back.
Beyond this, Microsoft also announced a couple of new features that Windows Insiders have been able to try for a while. There’s the new microphone mute icon on the taskbar, first seen in Windows 11 build 22494, which is currently only available for the work version of Microsoft Teams. Another Teams-exclusive feature is the ability to easily share a window during a meeting right from the taskbar, which debuted in build 22499.
Additionally, the new Notepad and Media Player apps will also be rolling out next month. The new Notepad app uses a new modern design and supports dark mode for the first time, in addition to including a new interface for the Find and Replace features. The new Media Player app replaces both Groove Music and Movies & TV apps, and it’s set to be the central destination for audio and video playback on Windows 11.
Finally, Microsoft is also rolling out the new entry point for the Widgets panel on the taskbar, displaying the current weather directly on the taskbar. This is reminiscent of the News and interests feature that was added to Windows 10 last year.
As to when exactly these features will roll out, there’s a good chance they’ll arrive alongside the Windows 11 Patch Tuesday updates in February. We shouldn’t have long to wait to know for sure.