Microsoft to test new experimental Windows 11 features


After revealing last week that Windows 11 will get a bigger than usual update in February with Android apps, taskbar improvements and more, Microsoft is now detailing its plans for testing Windows 11 in 2022. The software maker says it plans to do more. experiment with features for Windows 11 testers to evaluate that may never ship.

“As part of this ongoing evolution, Insiders will see us leaning more towards the Dev Channel as a place to incubate new ideas, work on long lead items, and check the status of individual features,” explains Amanda Langowski, the lead for the Windows Insider program. “In some cases, these concepts will never be delivered, but by experimenting more, we can better refine experiences and deliver solutions in Windows that really empower our customers to achieve more.”

We’ve seen this type of A/B testing before, where a subset of Windows Insiders gain access to a feature before Microsoft rolls it out more broadly for testers. However, in the future there may be variations on features that are not fully documented by Microsoft. A number of Windows enthusiasts look forward to new features every time Microsoft releases a new build, using flags in the operating system to enable hidden features and see what Microsoft is experimenting with.

A user types on the Surface Pro 8 from behind.  The screen displays the Windows 11 start menu on a white and blue background.

Windows 11’s features are about to get more experimental.
Photo by Becca Farsace / The Verge

“We also recognize that some of our more technical Insiders have found that some features have been intentionally disabled in the builds we’ve been running,” Langowski said. “This is how it’s designed and in those cases we’ll only communicate about features that we purposefully allow for Insiders to try out and provide feedback.”

The Dev Channel for Windows 11 testing will now really be where experimental features appear, bringing the Beta Channel features closer to what will ship for everyone. That could mean new features even appear first in the beta channel, as they get closer to shipping.

Microsoft now plans to give Windows 11 testers a window where they can switch from the Dev channel to the Beta channel, to avoid the more experimental features that are on the way. That will likely coincide with the release of features in February, including Android app support, taskbar changes, and the redesigned Notepad and Media Player apps.

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