Almost a year after Microsoft launched its Windows 11, the tech giant has officially rolled out its first major operating system update.
The update, which is available for free to current Windows 11 users, was rolled out to more than 190 countries on Tuesday. Many of the new features focus on Microsoft’s vision for the future of hybrid work.
“We formed new habits; and crashed,” wrote Panos Panay, EVP and product director of Windows and Devices at Microsoft, in a blog post announcing the update. “Our work is never done to make sure Windows evolves and adapts to you.”
Panay, who said Windows 11 is the most used version of Windows in its history, detailed how the latest update aims to make working remotely on PCs even easier and more secure. For example, a new tool called Smart App control uses artificial intelligence to block malicious or unsafe apps from running on devices. Microsoft calls Windows 11 the most secure version of the operating system yet.
Other changes include improvements to Snap layouts, which help people optimize their viewing when they need to have multiple apps or documents in front of them at the same time. It also introduces a ‘Focus Sessions’ and ‘Do Not Disturb’ feature to help minimize distractions that take you away from the task at hand. When you start a new focus session, it will activate Do Not Disturb, which cancels all notifications and disables badges from the taskbar.
The Start menu is also refreshed, including a faster and more accurate search function and new ways to customize the menu. There are also now tabs available in File Explorer, which Panay said is the most requested question from Windows users.
Meanwhile, a new tool called Windows Studio Effects helps enhance video and audio calls using AI technology that filters out background noise, such as lawnmowers and babies crying, and blurs background objects. It also subtly lifts a speaker’s eyes to make them appear to be looking directly into the camera during video calls.
Microsoft is also rolling out some of its previously announced accessibility features, including system-wide Live Captions that automatically generate subtitles from any form of audio content on Windows 11, and an update to Natural Voices for Narrator that more closely mirrors natural models of speech and helps to read documents or surf the web.
Microsoft previously told CNN that many of its new inclusion features were developed in part by Microsoft employees who have disabilities.
The update is being delivered through a “measured and incremental rollout” approach, Microsoft said in a separate blog post. Users with eligible devices can simply get the update by opening “Windows Update” in their settings.