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    • By Abhay V
      Windows 11 Dev build 22489 adds a new Your Microsoft account Settings page and more
      by Abhay V

      Microsoft today released Windows 11 Dev channel build 22489 that adds a new Your Microsoft account page to the Accounts section in Settings. The rollout of this new section is currently limited, meaning only a small set of users will be able to see the addition added to their build. The page allows users to view and manage Microsoft account settings such as subscriptions, orders, and more.

      The firm aims to improve the feature through Online Service Experience Packs that are similar to the Windows Feature Experience Packs, allowing the company to improve select features without major OS upgrades. Unlike Feature Experience Packs that bring improvements to components of the OS, the Online Service Experience Packs are "focused on delivering improvements for a specific experience", the firm adds. These packs will be served through Windows Update and are currently being tested for the new Microsoft account page in Settings but will be used for other features in the future.

      In addition to the new MSA page, there are other improvements to Settings including the splitting of the Apps & Features page into two pages, the renaming of the Connect app into "Wireless Display", and more. The firm is also bringing improvement to the DNS over HTTPS feature by adding support for Discovery of Designated Resolvers. Here is the complete list of improvements in this build:

      The build also brings a long list of fixes, which is always welcome. As is the case with every build, the company is promising to bring many of these fixes to the publicly available version of Windows 11, but there is no timeline on when that will happen or which fixes will be included specifically. Here are all the fixes:

      Lastly, there are a bunch of known issues, including one with the Windows Update settings page that the company says will impact how users check for updates. It is best for users to note the known issue and go ahead with installing this build, especially for those upgrading from a flavor of build 22000.

      Here are all the known issues:

      The firm has also made available the SDK preview for this build and NuGet packages for those interested. Additionally, the firm is also reminding users that Windows Sandbox now works with ARM64 PCs, a capability that was added last week. As usual, build 22489 should be available for Dev channel users via Windows Update.

    • By Usama Jawad96
      Windows 11's Microsoft Store is now available for Windows 10 Insiders
      by Usama Jawad

      Windows 11 comes with multiple new features including a redesigned Microsoft Store. As we discussed in our Closer Look piece earlier this month, it packs a UI revamp and the ability to support all apps, regardless of their packaging technology. However, as we have known for some time now, the storefront is also coming to Windows 10, and today, the first step has been made in this direction.

      Microsoft Store's Principal Architect Rudy Huyn has announced that the storefront is now available for Windows 10 Insiders in the Release Preview ring:

      Looking at the responses in the thread, the update is seemingly delivered via the regular Microsoft Store update mechanism. While Huyn hasn't revealed a firm release date as of yet, he has mentioned that the development team will "make sure that the app is bug free, it will be published to all Windows 10 users a little later".

      The new Microsoft Store is open to all applications, regardless of the framework or technology used to develop them. This essentially means that developers can publish Win32, .NET, UWP, Xamarin, Electron, React Native, Java, and Progressive Web Apps directly to the storefront, and will be responsible for its update mechanism.

      That said, Android app support is not available via the Microsoft Store in Windows 10. The feature is currently being tested in the Windows 11 Beta Channel, and will be exclusive to that OS. If you're on the Windows 11 Beta Channel, find out how to install Android apps via the Amazon Appstore using our brief guide here.

    • By hellowalkman
      Windows 11 could be getting a new Microsoft Defender, suggests leak
      by Sayan Sen

      Windows 11 is Microsoft's shiny new operating system for PCs and like many things new, Windows 11 also has many new features and changes with more expectedly in the pipeline for the future. Among such a list of upcoming changes is perhaps the Microsoft Defender too as hinted by a recent leak by Twitter leaker Aggiornamenti Lumia.

      As you can see from the tweet linked above, the application is seemingly in preview as it reads "Microsoft Defender Preview" with its purported codename being "GibraltarApp". With the new Defender, Microsoft hopes to offer users "simple, seamless, and personalized protection".

      Microsoft has been saying almost since it announced Windows 11 back in June that the firm is taking the security aspect of the new OS very seriously. There are strict requirements put in place like the need for TPM 2.0, VBS, Secure Boot, and a processor with support for Mode-based Execution Control (MBEC) or Guest Mode Execute Trap (GMET). The company even put up a demo video to showcase the benefits of the features.

      Interestingly, the current Microsoft Defender - which is the same experience as the one we have in Windows 10 (image above) - is causing issues for some users on Windows 11, so it is probably a good time for a new improved application to take its place. As far as availability is concerned, we simply don't know when the Microsoft Defender Preview could start rolling out, but it is likely to arrive in the Beta Channel for insiders first, given they also received Android apps on Windows 11 Preview ahead of the Dev Channel and the generally available consumer release.

    • By Usama Jawad96
      Microsoft is working on a new Surface laptop running "Windows 11 SE"
      by Usama Jawad

      What started off with the Microsoft Surface back in 2012 has expanded to cover multiple form factors and devices over the years including Surface Pro, Surface Go, Surface Laptop, Surface Laptop Studio, Surface Hub, Surface Duo, and more. Now, it appears that Microsoft is working on yet another Surface device, this one geared towards the educational sector.

      Surface Laptop 3Windows Central reports that Microsoft is developing a low-cost Surface laptop to compete with Chromebooks in the education sector. It reportedly features an 11.6-inch 1366x768 display, an Intel Celeron N4120 processor, and up to 8GB of RAM. The device will pack a full-sized keyboard and trackpad, a USB-C port, a USB-A port, a headphone jack, and an AC port. The Surface laptop will sport a plastic exterior, likely to keep the cost as low as possible, given the target market.

      According to the report, the Surface laptop is codenamed "Tenjin" and will be powered by "Windows 11 SE". Although we haven't heard of this SKU of the OS before, it will apparently be optimized for schools deploying lower-end Windows hardware in bulk. It's also unclear what the "SE" in the OS' name stands for, but it could mean "Student Edition" or "School Edition".

      Tenjin is expected to be announced by the end of this year and will feature competitive pricing in the zone of $400 or below. The move certainly makes sense given that the K-12 education market usually utilizes low-end hardware that is affordable for students. That said, it is important to note that none of these plans have been confirmed by Microsoft yet, so could change or not materialize at all.

    • By Usama Jawad96
      Closer Look: Storage settings in Windows 11
      by Usama Jawad

      It's been a few weeks since Windows 11 started rolling out generally (check out our review here), but since it's being distributed in a staggered manner, not everyone has it yet, even if they're on a supported machine. Although there are ways to skip the queue and trigger the update immediately, it's perhaps advisable to know what you're getting into before you decide to make the jump to Microsoft's latest OS. This is exactly why we have been discussing Windows 11's features in more detail in our ongoing Closer Look series.

      So far, we have taken a look at Search, Widgets, the Start menu, Snap Layouts and Snap Groups, the Taskbar, quick settings and notifications, Virtual Desktops, power and battery settings, default apps configurations, File Explorer, context menus, Teams integration, the updated Clock app in Windows 11, the Microsoft Store, the Snipping Tool, the Paint app refresh, the lock screen, the revamped Photos app, and the voice typing experience. Today, we'll be discussing storage settings in Windows 11.

      For the purpose of this hands-on, we'll be taking a look at the generally available Windows 11 build versus a publicly available and up-to-date Windows 10 (version 21H1 build 19043.1288).

      Although we usually follow a format in our Closer Look articles where we first discuss the Windows 10 offerings before comparing it to Windows 11, we'll be deviating a bit from that this time because, frankly, it's not worth it considering there are smaller enhancements here and there rather than a full revamp.

      Storage settings in Windows 11 When you launch storage settings in Windows 11, you'll notice that the landing page has been redesigned. Now, you get the most essential information - which is your drive's storage space on the top -, while other information is nested at the bottom. For some reason, Windows 10 showed Storage Sense at top, which is fortunately not the case here.

      Below the drive's storage, you'll get some more granular categories such as Apps & features and Temporary files, but if you want to see more categories, you'll be directed to a dedicated page rather than a list being populated on the same page like Windows 10.

      The nesting of information in menus that you can expand according to your liking is a very neat touch. It means that you can now view all essential data on the same page without scrolling and can dive into specific settings only if you want too. Space is utilized very smartly here, and I'm a big fan of these changes, particularly because it does not require me to scroll past or even see settings that I barely use.

      Temporary files management in Windows 11 If you click on any of the dedicated categories, you'll be taken to their respective dedicated page. I noticed that Microsoft has made some nifty changes to the color contrast here so now it's easier to read highlighted content, and there's a clear division between each list item too.

      Storage Sense in Windows 11 Apart from offering the regular configurations present in Windows 10 already, Storage Sense now integrates directly with your locally available OneDrive content too. It offers you the ability to make files online-only if your don't open them for more than a specific amount of time.

      Personally, I'm a bit paranoid about automatic deletion of files from local or cloud storage, so I don't use Storage Sense, but Microsoft offers a decent set of options for those who feel the need for this capability.

      Cleanup recommendations in Windows 11 Storage settings in Windows 11 provides a handy "Cleanup recommendations" section too, which does exactly what the name implies. It offers you recommendations about deleting temporary files, large or unused files, files synced to the cloud, and apps that you haven't used recently. I think this is a decent option to have if you want to quickly free up small amounts of storage while having manual control over what you are deleting.

      Going back to the landing page of the Storage settings menu, you'll notice that all of the capabilities from Windows 10 have been carried over and are now nested under "Advanced storage settings". That said, there are a couple of changes that I'd like to highlight.

      New Disks & volumes pages in Windows 11 There is a new dedicated page called "Disks & volumes". This shows you high-level information about your storage device, its partitions, and their respective health statuses at a glance. You can also click on any partition to view its properties such as BitLocker encryption status and also change the label. I find this to be a very useful page even though it's not part of my daily workflows.

      Backup options in Windows 11 "View backup options" from Windows 10 has been replaced by "Backup options" in Windows 11. It now redirects to the Windows Backup page, from where you can backup your content to OneDrive, and remember apps and preferences. Windows 10 also offered an option called "Backup using File History", and while that setting can still be accessed using the native UI, it's no longer directly visible inside Storage settings. I'm assuming that this was done due to low usage and to push people towards OneDrive backups, but this is just speculation on my part.

      New UI for Storage Spaces in WIndows 11 Another thing I noted was that while Windows 10 also allows you to create Storage Spaces where you can store your files redundantly across different drives via storage pools, it did so via the legacy Windows interface that opens in a dedicated window. Microsoft has changed this up significantly in Windows 11 so that you can now configure this capability directly inside the Storage settings page, complete with a native Windows 11-look. I know it doesn't make a huge difference, but I think it's a step in the right direction in terms of giving the OS a consistent look and feel.

      Unfortunately, this change has not carried over to "Drive optimization", which still opens a dedicated legacy UI. Yes, it has rounded corners but it's outside of the native Windows 11 Settings app, which is a bit jarring.

      Overall, I think that although Microsoft hasn't treated Storage settings to a full revamp, it has still made some notable and positive changes to the overall UI. Whitespace is utilized much better and the nested menus ensure that you can easily find what you're looking for. I welcome the tighter integration with OneDrive as it also gives a more unified feel across Microsoft products. The new pages for Disks & volumes as well as Storage Spaces are decent changes and tie in well with the overall Windows 11 design, while providing useful capabilities. Some may bemoan the absence of backup via File History but I personally never used it so I don't miss it. Eitherway, the capability hasn't been completely removed so you can still access it if you want via the legacy Windows UI.

      Take a look at the section here or select from the links below to continue exploring Windows 11 in our ongoing "Closer Look" series:

      Closer Look: Search in Windows 11 Closer Look: Widgets in Windows 11 Closer Look: Start menu in Windows 11 Closer Look: Snap Layouts and Snap Groups in Windows 11 Closer Look: Taskbar in Windows 11 Closer Look: Quick settings and notifications in Windows 11 Closer Look: Virtual Desktops in Windows 11 Closer Look: Power and battery settings in Windows 11 Closer Look: Default apps settings in Windows 11 Closer Look: File Explorer in Windows 11 Closer Look: Context menus in Windows 11 Closer Look: Microsoft Teams integration in Windows 11 Closer Look: Clock app in Windows 11 Closer Look: Microsoft Store in Windows 11 Closer Look: Snipping Tool in Windows 11 Closer Look: Paint in Windows 11 Closer Look: Lock screen in Windows 11 Closer Look: Photos app in Windows 11 Closer Look: Voice typing in Windows 11