New wallpapers and better window alignment are coming in the latest Preview builds of Windows 11

Enlarge / A PC with Windows 11.

Windows 11 has calmed down a lot since its original release, but Microsoft continues to test new features and tweaks to the operating system in its Insider Preview program. So far this month’s builds have focused on bug fixes and UI tweaks, but a few notable changes are noteworthy enough to stand out.

This week’s build, version 22598, contains relatively few user-visible changes. One is that “a limited number of Windows Insiders” doing clean installs have their desktop wallpapers set to rotate Windows Spotlight images by default. The other change is that Microsoft is experimenting with 4K wallpapers via Spotlight. There’s also a new album-centric view for artist pages in the redesigned Media Player app.

Last week’s preview, build 22593, brought some changes to File Explorer and some window management improvements. The default view for new File Explorer windows is now called “Home”, although the available content doesn’t change significantly. Folders can still be pinned to your Start window, but the “Quick Access” label has been moved from the navigation sidebar to the main window, and “pinned” files are now labeled “Favorites” to make them more consistent with the label used in OneDrive and Office .

Snap layouts are becoming more keyboard-friendly.  Press Win+Z and then a number to start snapping windows.
Enlarge / Snap layouts are becoming more keyboard-friendly. Press Win+Z and then a number to start snapping windows.

Andrew Cunningham

When you invoke the snap layout popup with the Win + Z keyboard shortcut, the preview build also labels each layout option with a number, making it easier to select a layout from the keyboard without lifting your hand to your mouse or your to move the trackpad.

These preview builds of Windows 11 also actively start by recommending that you enable the Memory Integrity Security feature and show you a notification if it’s disabled (as it will by default on all but the latest Windows 11 PCs will). As we’ve written, the memory integrity feature (also called HVCI) runs best on newer CPUs that support a feature called mode-based execution control (MBEC). But even with MBEC support, you might notice a slight drop in performance for gaming and other CPU-intensive tasks. It’s an easy call to enable on a general-purpose laptop or a desktop you use primarily for work, but the trade-off might be more obvious for a gaming PC or workstation that needs all the CPU power.

Enabling the memory integrity feature habit Be a prerequisite for installing or updating Windows 11 on these PCs and the warning message can be closed. If you’re running Windows 11 on a PC with an unsupported CPU, it’s probably for the best not to enable the memory integrity feature. Running on older processors without MBEC support can result in a more noticeable performance hit.

If the memory integrity feature is disabled, Windows 11 will inform you about it.
Enlarge / If the memory integrity feature is disabled, Windows 11 will inform you about it.

Andrew Cunningham

The latest Windows 11 Insider Updates have been released for the Dev and Beta channels. The two will eventually separate again; The Dev Channel will get more experimental and less stable features, and the Beta Channel will be a place to experiment with likely public Windows features. Dev Channel users who want to switch to the more stable Beta Channel should do so now while both channels are still getting the same builds.

Some of the new tested features in the Insider Preview channels will likely be awaiting the next major Windows 11 servicing update, which will be released sometime this fall. Others, particularly the bug fixes, “may find their way into” updates for Windows 11 21H2, the current public release of Windows.

New Technology Era

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