- Windows 11 22H2 receives builds 22621.2129 and 22631.2129 (KB5029359) in the Beta Channel.
- This update introduces a slew of new features and changes coming to version 23H2.
- Some of them include Windows Copilot AI, Dev Drive, and Adaptive Dimming for Presence Sensing.
- The update also brings visual changes to the Start menu, Taskbar, Task Manager, and more.
Windows 11 build 22631.2129 (KB5029359) is now rolling out with a slew of new features enabled by default expected to arrive with version 23H2, and the preview build 22621.2129 (KB5029359) with features turned off by default for computers enrolled in the Beta Channel.
Build 22631.2129 for Windows 11, according to the official changes, introduces the first preview of the Windows Copilot in the Beta Channel. This flight also rolls out Dev Drive, which is a new experience in the Settings app to create storage environments using the Resilient File System (ReFS) technology. Windows Narrator enhances interaction with Excel, and Voice Access gets new text authoring experiences and is now accessible from the Lock Screen.
In addition, Windows 11 build 22631.2129 includes a new policy that promotes a user experience on AAD-joined machines for core authentication scenarios without requiring a password for Windows Hello for Business (WHFB). The Cast feature receives changes to make it easier to find and use, and the Presence Sensing feature now includes Adaptive Dimming, and you can configure the experience through the out-of-box experience.
Finally, the Start menu improves the “Recommended” section with a richer preview when hovering over files, the System Tray gets a new icon for Notifications, Task Manager updates the design of the settings page to match the design language of Windows 11, and you will find some improvements in the Settings app.
Windows 11 build 22631.2129 new features
Here are all the new features and improvements for the latest release of Windows 11 in the Beta Channel:
Starting with build 22631.2129, Windows 11 is finally introducing a preview of the Windows Copilot. The company notes that this release aims to present the interface, but “additional functionality is coming down the road in future previews.”
To get started with the Windows Copilot, you only have to click the new “Copilot” button in the Taskbar or use the “Windows key + C” keyboard shortcut. The experience uses “the same Microsoft account (MSA) or Azure Active Directory (AAD) account used to sign in to Windows.”
The chatbot appears as a sidebar docked to the right where it won’t overlap with your desktop content and runs unobstructed alongside your apps.
In this flight, you can ask the Windows Copilot things, such as: “Change to dark mode,” “Turn on do not disturb,” “Take a screenshot,” “Summarize this website” (Active tab in Microsoft Edge), “Write a story about a dog who lives on the moon,” and “Make me a picture of a serene koi fishpond with lily pads.”
The feature relies on Microsoft Edge, so the device must have version 115.0.1901.150 or higher in addition to build 23493.
If the feature isn’t available on your installation, you can enable the Windows Copilot with these instructions.
As part of the Start menu changes, the “Recommended” section now offers a richer preview when hovering over files for devices enrolled using an AAD account, but the company says that the feature will also come to users with a Microsoft account. Additionally, when right-clicking on cloud file recommendations, there is now an option to quickly share these files.
Furthermore, the “All apps” menu will now show a “System” label for system components.
Starting on Windows 11 build 22631.2129, the bell icon for notifications will no longer show the counter. Instead, Notifications will now show as a bell in the system tray, and when new notifications come through, the bell will colorize based on your system accent color. When there are no notifications, and the clock is visible, the bell will be empty.
On Excel, the Windows Narrator now provides a more succinct and efficient reading experience. Announcements are prioritized based on the information you need to skim a workbook and are customizable using convenient keyboard shortcuts.
To enable the enhanced announcements, you have to install the latest preview of Windows and the preview of Office and start Narrator using the keyboard shortcut “Control + Windows + Enter.”
Microsoft has also published a page with more details about using the Enhanced Narrator support on Excel.
On build 22631.2129, it’s now possible to use Voice Access from the Lock screen using the Accessibility menu from the bottom-right corner.
In addition, you can follow the instructions on the voice access bar to get your focus on the password field and use your voice to dictate your password or PIN. Furthermore, it’s possible to say “show keyboard” to bring up the touch keyboard with number labels on it. You can say the numbers on the keys to enter the letters associated with it.
Finally, you can also use other commands, such as “show numbers” or “click [element name]” to access other elements on the Lock screen or UAC prompt.
Windows 11 build 22631.2129 introduces various changes for Cart, which is the feature that allows you to wirelessly extend your display to another nearby computer, TV, or other external displays.
The company says that it’s improving discoverability and making it easier to use by adding a suggestion to use Cast with a toast notification when it detects that you’re doing multitasking activities, such as often switching between windows to complete a task or using Snap Assist.
In addition, the feature will provide inline guidance within the Cast flyout in Quick Settings to install the Wireless Display optional feature and offer better discoverability of the computer to other devices through the “Projecting to this PC” settings page.
On devices with presence sensors that support attention detection, Windows 11 build 23516 introduces Adaptive Dimming.
Furthermore, Wake-on Approach, Lock-on Leave, and Adaptive Dimming are part of Presence Sensing and can now be enabled through the out-of-box experience setup process when choosing your privacy settings for your device.
In this flight, Task Manager brings an update to the settings page to match the design of Windows 11.
Date & time
In addition, the development is improving the user experience when changing time zones, including cases of low confidence in location data. According to the company, the new change displays a non-dismissible notification for accepting or rejecting the change and prompts the user for confirmation before adjusting the time zone.
Also, you will find some changes while changing the time zone. If location settings are disabled, a warning will be shown to the user, advising them to enable location settings to ensure accurate time zone adjustments.
As part of the changes and new features for the Settings app, the “Disks & volumes” page introduces the “Dev Drive” feature that allows developers to create spacial virtual drives using Resilient File System (ReFS) technology and includes file system optimizations and features that enable developers to better manage their performance and security profile.
According to the company, this feature is not designed for general workloads such as document libraries, installing packaged applications, or non-developer tools. Instead, it’s been designed specifically to meet the needs of developers to host project source code, working folders, and package caches.
You will find this feature on Settings > System > Storage > Advanced Storage Settings > Disks & Volumes, or through Command Prompt or PowerShell. As a requirement, the Dev Drive must be at least 50GB (or higher) in size, and the computer must have at least 8GB of memory.
Windows Hello for Business
As part of the Windows Hello for Business, Windows 11 build 23506 includes a new “EnablePasswordlessExperience” policy that promotes a user experience on AAD-joined computers for core authentication scenarios without requiring a password.
Once the policy is configured, it removes passwords from the user experience, both for device login as well as in-session auth scenarios like password managers in a web browser, “Run as” administrator or as a different user scenario, and User Account Control (UAC). Users will navigate through their core authentication scenarios using Windows Hello for Business in place of passwords.
Windows 11 build 22631.2129 fixes
This rollout also brings a bunch of fixes and improvements for both builds:
- The keyboard shortcuts to set focus to the search box (CTRL + F, CTRL + E, F3) should work now.
- Fixed an issue where the dropdown in the address bar could appear totally blank.
- Fixed an issue that was causing quick settings not to open when selecting the network, volume, and battery icons in the system tray.
Fixed a few issues causing explorer.exe crashes and leading to taskbar reliability issues.
- Microsoft notes a couple of known issues for the Taskbar, File Explorer, Narrator, and Input.
- Fixed an issue causing Insiders to unexpectedly see a notification suggesting you turn off notifications for an app named NotifyiconGeneratedAumid_*.
- Adjusted the desktops, switching animation to ease into the animation a little more.
- Fixed a high-hitting ctfmon.exe crash in the last two flights, which could impact the ability to type.
- Fixed an issue where some of the app icons in the Startup Apps section of Task Manager were very tiny.
- Fixed an issue where the selection color wasn’t displaying correctly if you were using a contrast theme.
- Fixed an issue where the focus wasn’t getting set correctly to search if the Task Manager window was small enough that the search was collapsed to an icon.
- Fixed alignment of the Task Manager icon and name in the title bar.
Install build 22631.2129
To download and install the Windows 11 build 22631.2129, enroll your device in the Beta Channel using the “Windows Insider Program” settings from the “Update & Security” section.
Once you enroll the computer in the program, you can download build 22631.2129 from the “Windows Update” settings by clicking the “Check for Updates” button. However, you will need a device that meets the minimum system requirements to receive the update if you are new to the Windows Insider Program. If the device receives build 22621.2129, you can turn on the “Get the latest updates as soon as they’re available” toggle switch to switch to build 22631.2129.