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Windows 11 update: New gestures, Start menu changes, and more

Microsoft has released a new preview of an upcoming update to Windows 11, and it showcases some great new features and changes that many will be excited about.

To be specific, this is Windows 11 Insider Preview Build 22557, and testers in the Dev Channel will get access to the latest Windows 11 software, which includes new touch gestures, live captions, a new experience called ‘Focus,’ and much more.

Hey Folks – We have a fresh #Windows11 build with all sorts of new experiences to try out for #WindowsInsiders in the Dev Channel. Check out Build 22557 and all the details in the blog post – https://t.co/sxsFqENCJ4 pic.twitter.com/NqAdltaiak

— Windows Insider Program (@windowsinsider) February 16, 2022

The new touch gestures are particularly interesting, and now include swipes directly from the taskbar. A swipe up from the right side of the taskbar brings up Quick Settings, while a swipe up from the middle of the taskbar launches the Start Menu.

Similarly, Microsoft has improved the animation of the Notification Center gesture, which is a swipe from the right of the screen. It now follows your finger rather than just triggering.

An animation showing the new Start Menu gesture in Windows 11.

There’s an interesting new productivity feature included in the build as well. You can now set your desktop to Do Not Disturb, or a new experience called ‘Focus,’ which in addition to DND (Do Not Disturb), integrates with focus sessions in the Clock app. This allows you to play calming music or view your task list from the To-Do app. Focus will also flash applications in the taskbar during timed sessions, all of which can be personalized within settings.

Beyond those two features, here are some other highlights in the Windows 11 Build 22557 changelog:

  • Live captions can be turned used as an accessibility tool for those who are deaf or hard of hearing, through audio or video content. It can be accessed via the WIN + Ctrl + L keyboard shortcut or through the Accessibility section of Quick Settings.
  • Drag and drop apps together to create folders in the pinned apps area of the Start Menu. Then organize folders by adding, removing, or arranging apps in folders according to preference. Future build might add the ability to name and rename folders.
  • Pinned files are now shown above Recent files in File Explorer for easier access.
  • Integration of OneDrive cloud storage, synced right into File Explorer

The Windows 11 public build is expected to become available later this month; however, there is no guarantee that features showcased in the developer build will make it to the official version.

Microsoft released the Windows 11 Build 22000.526 (KB5010414) to Windows Insiders users in the beta and release preview channels last week. That preview is expected to be one of the last before the public build is released.

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