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The Windows 11 2022 update is what we should have seen from the start

Windows 11 is getting its first major update since it launched last year, and it brings a lot of new features. From tabs and Task Manager to a built-in video editor, Windows 11 is starting to take shape; it just took us a year to get here.

If you don’t remember the disappointing launch of Windows 11 last year, you’re lucky. Although Microsoft brought some new features to the OS, it’s mostly been a visual reskin of Windows 10. The 2022 update change that — it makes Windows 11 the OS that we should have had from the beginning.

Features make the difference

Windows 11's Phone Link on a Dell XPS Laptop.
Dung Caovn/Unsplash

Windows 11 didn’t launch in the best state. For starters, it was missing support for Android apps, which was the marquee feature, and the ongoing issues with TPM made installing the new OS confusing and frustrating. Add on top of that performance issues, like up to a 15% drop in gaming performance on Ryzen processors, and upgrading didn’t seem too enticing.

We’re past the growing pains, but the Windows 11 we’ve had for the past year isn’t the Windows 11 Microsoft is offering now. The 2022 update brings features to the OS, which is something the initial release seriously lacked. Press, analysts, and fans called it out as mostly a Windows 10 reskin, and for the past year, that’s been right. Now, Microsoft is adding the features that should have been in Windows 11 from the start.

Tabs in File Explorer is a good illustration of that. This has been a feature fans have requested for years, and we’re finally getting it with the Windows 11 2022 update. The original Windows 11 File Explorer was the same one we had in Windows 10, short of a few new icons. Now, we have a File Explorer that’s far more useful than what we had before.

Clipchamp video editor running on Windows.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

For creative types, Clipchamp is a huge win too. Windows has been starved for a built-in video editor since Windows Movie Maker bit the dust (rest in peace), and Clipchamp is the perfect solution to fill that gap. AI features are making a difference too, with Microsoft taking its background blur, automatic framing, and eye contact features available in Teams to the whole operating system.

Those are just a few of the features in the Windows 11 2022 update, too. Windows 11 had a rocky start, but the hesitation to upgrade for a lot of users came down to a lack of new features. This update brings the scales in balance, separating Windows 11 from Windows 10 and providing some tangible upgrades.

Delivering on promises

Live Captions in Windows 11.
Arif Bacchus/ Digital Trends

Although Microsoft is adding new features with its first major Windows 11 update, it’s also delivering on some key promises. Most notably, it’s adding several accessibility features to the OS. Now, you have access to systemwide automated captions that you can activate with a simple key command, and you can use your voice to fully control your PC.

Microsoft billed Windows 11 as its most accessible OS to date, which has only technically been true over the past year. There were more accessibility features than Windows 10, but not enough to write home about. Syste-wide captions and voice control are a huge boost, allowing those who struggle with traditional input methods to fully use the OS.

In addition to accessibility, the update brings Microsoft’s push for remote work full circle. Windows 11 was described as an OS built for how you work and how you play, but again, sparse features failed to make it feel that way. The update brings further support for Do Not Disturb, which you can now set to kick in automatically, as well as more features for Focus.

Tabs in the Windows 11 File Explorer

Focus was one of my most anticipated features, but it didn’t play out how I expected in the initial release. It’s now integrated into the clock in your system tray, and you can engage Focus for a set amount of time. You can also customize which notifications you get when Focus is turned on, as well as quickly access music and podcast apps. It’s a centralized tool to help you focus, which it wasn’t before.

Trending upwards

Windows 11 Insider Preview Build 25201 includes a new expanded view for widgets feature.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Windows 11 was off to a slow start late last year, but it’s finally starting to pick up steam. The latest reports say that around 23% of PCs are now running Windows 11, which is a major jump considering that number was closer to 15% at the start of the year. This update, along with the features it brings, should boost the adoption rate even more.

For the first time since Microsoft announced Windows 11, I’m excited about the future of the OS. This looks like the version we should’ve seen from the start, thanks to not only a visual overhaul, but also features built for PC users in 2022.

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Jacob Roach
Senior Staff Writer, Computing
Jacob Roach is a writer covering computing and gaming at Digital Trends. After realizing Crysis wouldn't run on a laptop, he…
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