Microsoft has released what it’s describing to be the “first major update” for Windows 11. Despite it rolling out nine months into the year, the company has opted to refer to it as the ‘2022 Update.’
This major new update for the year-old OS brings with it some quality-of-life improvements that enhance accessibility, productivity, gaming and more.
Open the (gaming) window
Let’s start with the gaming enhancements. Performance optimizations have been made to the OS in order “to improve latency and unlock features like Auto HDR and Variable Refresh Rate in windowed games.” Windows 11 users with higher-end monitors will particularly benefit from these specific improvements.
In terms of more general gaming improvements, all Windows 11 users can now use the new Xbox Game Bar, which now has a Controller bar view. Accessed by pressing the Xbox button on your controller, you can quickly see recently played titles and game launchers. Additional enhancements have also been made to DirectX 12 Ultimate and DirectStorage, with the latter receiving “support across more storage configurations, including RAID 0.”
Microsoft Edge even gets to join in on the list of gaming enhancements.
While most of the work here was already implemented over the summer, Microsoft has used this new update to heavily suggest that cloud gamers make use of Edge as their go-to browser. The reason being that it makes “gameplay from the cloud look sharper and clearer” due to a new Clarity Boost mode. Edge also has an Efficiency mode that Microsoft claims to “improve gaming performance” when you play a PC title natively. Players can also benefit from the new Gaming homepage that will “help [them] discover and engage with their favorite games, and the new Games menu enables one-click access to free casual and arcade games.”
Odds and ends
Beyond these gaming-focused improvements, the 2022 Update for Windows 11 also includes system-wide live captions to aid those who are hearing impaired. Users can also control their PCs and pen text with their voice. The Narrator feature also has new voices to make text-to-speech sound more natural.
For productivity, there’s the new Focus/Do Not Disturb mode that silences notifications, disables taskbar badges, and allows the user to track their elapsed Focus time. The Clock app will prompt you to take breaks every now and again.
New options for Snap layouts will also help with productivity, as you can now more easily send windows to specific locations to help spread out multiple applications at once.
With videoconferencing more popular than ever, Microsoft has also outfitted Windows 11 with a suite of Windows Studio effects for audio and video calls. This includes noise suppression for better audio clarity, background blur and more.
Other minor additions include the ability to once again create folders in the Start menu. File Explorer finally has tabs, as well as taskbar overflow, Nearby Share enhancements, security updates, and more. You can check out the full list of features over on the official Windows Blog.
The Windows 11 2022 Update is currently rolling out as an OTA update to different machines as they become eligible. You’ll know your PC has become eligible when you see the Windows 11 version 22H2 download prompt appear in the Windows Update menu.