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Microsoft to roll out Windows 11 improvements next month

Android on Windows public preview and task bar enhancements predate major release later in year

Microsoft's new Windows 11 OS on a tablet

Microsoft is planning to introduce a slew of features in Windows 11 next month, before a large update later in the year.

The updates, announced in a blog post by Microsoft's chief product officer for Windows and devices, Panos Panay, have been in testing for months and were teased during the initial Windows 11 launch. They will predate the major 2H update this year, which now happens on an annual schedule.

Perhaps the most anticipated feature is the public preview of Android on Windows 11. The feature, which emerged from the company's Project Latte software and was originally considered for Windows 10, will allow users to install the Amazon App store and download Android software.

Microsoft has been previewing the Android Apps for Windows feature with testers since late October. The company has already said that the functionality won't be installed by default.

The company is also bringing some improvements to the task bar. It will offer a mute/unmute toggle button directly on the task bar that will make it easier to participate in conferences and calls without embarrassing yourself on a hot mic. The universal mute button first appeared in Windows Insider Preview 22494, but began as a Microsoft Teams-only feature. Microsoft has said that other application vendors will be able to take advantage of it.

Users can also expect to see the return of the weather widget, which the company removed from Windows with the upgraded widget panel in version 11. It already reintroduced the widget in the Windows Insider Preview build in December.

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Panay mentioned easier window sharing as an addition that will appear in Windows 11 next month. This likely refers to a feature that enables users to share screen content on a Teams call by hovering over a window. It said in November that other communications applications will be able to use the feature in their software.

Finally, the February release will see two new redesigned apps, Notepad and Media Player. Like the other features outlined in the blog post, Microsoft has been testing these redesigns with Windows 11 Insiders. Notepad will include an enhanced search and replace feature, while Media Player, which replaces the Groove app, will support both audio and video. Both applications will include dark modes.

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