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Microsoft to publicly preview upcoming Windows 11 features next month

Wednesday January 26, 2022. 07:12 PM , from PC World
Microsoft has said previously that it plans to issue feature updates to Windows 11 once per year, in the fall. But the company said Wednesday that it plans to issue a “public preview” of Android apps running on Windows, among other features, next month, to Windows 11 users. In other words, Windows 11 is receiving its first real update.

Microsoft’s announcement came at the end of a Wednesday blog post authored by Panos Panay, chief product officer of Windows + Devices at Microsoft. The blog post reiterated many of the claims made by chief executive Satya Nadella during the company’s earnings call, such as the claim that 1.4 billion users now use Windows. Panay also reiterated many of Microsoft’s thematic statements, such as how the world has evolved into a hybrid working environment.

It was what’s next for Windows, though, that was the most interesting part of his statement. “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, taskbar improvements with call mute and unmute, easier window sharing and bringing weather to the taskbar, plus the introduction of two new redesigned apps, Notepad and Media Player.”

All of these features have been “released” previously as part of the Windows Insider program, specifically for members of the Windows Insider Dev Channel, where Microsoft tests out new code. Microsoft has said previously that the Dev Channel is reserved for code that may not ever be released publicly, while the Beta Channel and the Release Preview channel are for those who wish to test builds associated with an upcoming release.

Microsoft doesn’t appear to be making these experiences available to the Beta Channel, as a way of offering them up for more public testing. Instead, Microsoft representatives said that most are coming to the stable channel of Windows 11. “The taskbar features and Notepad and Media Player apps mentioned in the blog will begin to ship next month to Windows 11 customers, outside of the Windows Insider Program,” a Microsoft representative said in a statement emailed to PCWorld. “As shared in the blog, Android apps, will be available through the Microsoft Store and our partnerships with Amazon and Intel as a public preview.”

When asked for clarification on how the Amazon apps would be delivered, the Microsoft representative reiterated: “The experiences are coming to Windows 11 customers, outside the Windows Insider Program. We will have more details to share next month.”

In any event, you can already test out these features by joining the Windows Insider channel. We’ve taken a look at how Android apps on Windows compares to Chromebooks, and described how the new “weather widget” (or News & Interests) feature will work on the Windows 11 taskbar. Microsoft has previously published details of the new Windows Media Player, as well.

This story was updated at 4:25 PM with a second statement from Microsoft.
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