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Microsoft releases new Windows 11 Insider build with Dev Drive, Backup and Restore improvements and more

Microsoft Windows Dev Drive

Microsoft today announced the release of Windows 11 Insider Preview Build 23466 to the Dev Channel. This new build comes with brand-new features such as Dev Drive, Backup and Restore improvements, new text authoring experiences in voice access, new natural voices in Chinese and more. Find the full change log below.

What’s new in Build 23466

Dev Drive

Dev Drive is a new form of storage volume available to improve performance for key developer workloads. Dev Drive is built upon Resilient File System (ReFS) technology and includes file system optimizations and features that enable developers to better manage their performance and security profile. It has been designed to meet a developer’s needs to host project source code, working folders, and package caches. It is not designed for general consumer workloads such as document libraries, installing packaged applications or non-developer tools.

To setup a Dev Drive, you can create one in free space on an existing drive or create a VHD/VHDX. This is done via Settings app under System > Storage > Advanced Storage Settings > Disks & Volumes, or via the command-line. A Dev Drive must be at least 50GB or higher in size and we recommend having 8GB or higher RAM on your device.

Performance mode, a new capability of Microsoft Defender Antivirus, is designed for Dev Drive to minimize impact on developer workloads.

Backup and Restore improvements

Building on the app restore feature we announced last year, we are introducing additional backup and restore capabilities in this build to make moving to a new PC easier than ever and to help app developers retain users across this new PC transition. The goal of these changes is to land users on a desktop that feels familiar to them and get them back to productivity within minutes on their new PC.

The Windows Backup app.
  • Windows Backup app – we’re introducing this new app to quickly get your current PC backed up and ready to move to a new PC.
  • App pins – your Store apps from your prior PC will be pinned where you left them, both on taskbar and in the Start menu.
  • Settings – Settings from your previous device will restore to your new PC to help you get back into the flow as quickly as possible.
Welcome back screen showing PC restoring from backup.

Once you’re backed up either via the new Windows Backup app or by visiting Accounts/Windows Backup in settings, you can try out the new restore during the out-of-box- experience (OOBE) when setting up a new PC or by resetting an existing PC with this build.

NOTE: An easy way for Insiders to try this experience out is by running the Windows Backup app on a PC running this build and then setting up a new VM using the ISO for this build provided here (or clean installation of this build on another PC) and going through OOBE for the new restore experience.

New text authoring experiences in voice access 

We have added two new experiences to make text authoring easy with voice access. Users can now use “correction” commands to correct words that are misrecognized by voice access.

You can say “correct [text]” or “correct that” to correct a specific piece of text or last dictated text. The correction window appears with a list of options labelled with numbers.

You can say “click [number]” to select any option from the list. If you choose an alternate word from the window , the selected text will be replaced by the word. You can also say “spell that” to dictate the correct spelling of the text.

A word document showing corrections window with candidates for the text “cereals”.

Users can directly use the “spell that” or “spell out” command to dictate the right spelling of non-standard words such as usernames, topics, etc.  A spelling window appears where you can dictate letters, numbers, symbols, phonetic alphabet, etc. You get suggestions as you spell out the text. You can say “click 1” to enter the text you spelled out or say “click [number]” to pick a suggestion (if any). All words and phrases dictated using spelling experience are added to Windows dictionary and show up as suggestions when you try to spell the text next time.

Spelling window is floating on top of the Word application.
Spelling window showing suggestions as few characters are dictated.
To do this Say this
Correct a specific word or text “correct [text]”, e.g., “correct site”
Correct selected text or last dictated text “correct that”
Spell a word letter by letter. , “spell that”

 

Narrator natural voices in Chinese

We are introducing new natural voices in Chinese that allow Narrator users to comfortably browse the web, read, and write mail, and do more. Natural Narrator voices use modern, on-device text to speech and once downloaded are supported without an internet connection.

To use one of the natural voices, add it to your PC by following these steps:

  1. Open Narrator Settings by pressing the WIN + Ctrl + N hotkey.
  2. Under Narrator’s voice, select the Add button next to Add natural voices.
  3. Select the voice you want to install. You can install all voices, but you must install them separately. The new Chinese voices are Microsoft Xiaoxiao and Microsoft Yunxi.
  4. To start the download of the selected voice, select Install. The new voice will download and be ready for use in a few minutes, depending on your internet download speed.
  5. When the new voice has downloaded, in Narrator settings select your preferred voice from the drop-down menu in Narrator’s voice > Choose a voice.
New natural voices in Chinese in Narrator.

Note: If your display language is not set to Chinese, then in step 3 you will first need to select “Choose a different language” and then select the Chinese language followed by the specific voice.

Changes and Improvements

[General]

  • To minimize distractions from notification toasts, we now detect if the user is interacting with toasts or not and provide a suggestion to turn the toast banners off for such apps. This will only stop the banners from appearing, and you can still find the toasts in the notification center. This feature is beginning to roll out, so not all Insiders in the Dev Channel will see it right away.
Suggestions to turn the toast banners.

[Start menu]

  • We are trying out a different model for ranking the most recently used files in the Start menu’s Recommended section that considers when the file was last used, the file extension, and more. This means you may not see files purely in reverse chronological order of when they were last used.

[Taskbar & System Tray]

  • We’re excited to bring you an early version of one of our most requested features for Windows 11, never combined mode. In never combined mode, you’ll be able to see each window of your applications on the taskbar individually, as well as their corresponding labels. You can find this feature by navigating to Settings > Personalization > Taskbar > Taskbar behaviors. This feature is beginning to roll out, so not all Insiders in the Dev Channel will see it right away.
Taskbar in never combined mode.

[Search on the Taskbar]

  • We are beginning to re-roll out the exploration of a new hover behavior for the search box and search highlight gleam. This originally began rolling out with Build 23440 but was disabled to address a bug. The proposed interaction model aims to create a more engaging search experience by invoking the search flyout when you hover over the search box gleam. This behavior can be adjusted by right-clicking on the taskbar, choosing “Taskbar settings” and adjusting your preferred search box experience.

[File Explorer]

  • The Windows App SDK version of File Explorer is now fully rolled out to Insiders in the Dev Channel and as a result, we are removing the “pizza” icon on the command bar.

[Emoji]

  • We have seen your feedback and are updating a few emoji in our current set. Everything from making the eye more recognizable to changing our alien to be out of this world. We know there are a few bugs in this release which will be resolved in future flights.
Examples of updated emoji in our current set.

[Windows Security]

  • We have updated the Windows Security (firewall) notification dialogs that match the Windows 11 visuals.
Updated Windows Security (firewall) notification dialogs.

[Networking]

  • Added support for bridging adapters via command line via netsh.
  • Passpoint Wi-Fi networks will now support enhanced connection performance and will display a URL in Quick Settings to provide information to users about the venue or event.
  • We added WPA3 support to the Phone Link instant hotspot feature for more secure connections to a phone’s hotspot. Also made fixes to respect metered connection settings, reduce duplicate profiles, and show the phone’s display name in the network list.

[Settings]

  • We have added links to advanced properties for network adapters and internet properties under Settings > Network & internet > Advanced network settings.
Link to advanced properties for network adapters in Settings.
  • We have added a way to view Wi-Fi passwords for your known networks via Settings > Network & internet > Wi-Fi and “Manage known networks”.
View Wi-Fi passwords for known wireless networks in Settings.
  • We added the ability to join Bluetooth Personal Area networks under the Settings > Bluetooth & devices > Devices This option will appear for paired devices like Phones that are sharing internet over Bluetooth.
  • Based on your feedback, we have added additional options to the Data Usage page that allows for daily and weekly data limits. The page will also now show how far a data limit has been exceeded.
  • Updated the design of the lists displayed under Settings > Apps > Startup Apps and Settings > Apps > Advanced App Settings > App Execution Alias pages to be more consistent with other Settings pages.
  • Updated Settings > Apps > Startup to make it easier to access more information about the apps listed.
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