Windows 11 just got a new preview update, and rumor has it that it’s the next big OS update – known as “Moment 3” – and will be available in just over a week (sort of – we’ll explain more in a moment).
The update in question is build 22621.1776, which appeared on the Release Preview Channel, the last test channel before release, as the name suggests.
There’s certainly a lot going on in this version, but most of it is minor stuff, so if you’re hoping for big changes, you might be a bit disappointed.
That said, there are some important improvements here, especially in terms of accessibility where Microsoft has implemented a whole bunch of additions, tweaks, and smoothings.
This includes the introduction of live captions for a range of new languages: Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), French (France, Canada), German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese (Brazil, Portugal), Spanish and Korean. Various English dialects are now also supported, including Irish.
Voice Access – controlling the operating system with speech and dictating text – has also received support for various dialects of the English language (Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand, UK).
The Voice Access command list help page has also been revamped to better explain the various bits of functionality offered by this feature (and lots of it).
Microsoft has also introduced several new text selection and editing commands, such as the ability to select a piece of text that begins with one specific word and progresses to another. There are also commands for making text bold and italic.
Away from the world of accessibility, we now have Content Adaptive Brightness Control (CABC) to help save energy for laptops and 2-in-1s, even when they’re plugged in (if you choose this option). As we’ve explained in more detail elsewhere, this feature intelligently dims certain areas of the screen to save energy with no noticeable difference in image quality (or so the theory is).
Another notable but minor addition is the presence of a VPN status icon in the system tray (right side of the taskbar).
This shows up when you’re connected to a VPN (or rather “recognized VPN profile”), which means you can tell you’re safe (and anonymous) when you’re online at a glance instead of looking in the VPN app’s menu main. (Not every VPN indicates connection status via a system tray icon, which would be ideal.)
Also in the system tray, Windows 11 users now have the option to display the seconds on the clock.
In short, there’s an absolute ton of stuff delivered in build 22621.1776, and if you want to go through a really comprehensive list, take a look at Microsoft blog post announcement.
Analysis: Looks like a groundbreaking update is imminent
There are some very convenient elements here, such as the VPN status icon and many other small but useful tweaks. (These also include new keyboard shortcuts for the context menu in File Explorer, and the ability to copy two-factor authentication codes directly from popup notifications in Windows 11.)
It’s also great to see improved accessibility, as we mentioned, with many new Voice Access supported dialects, and changes to live subtitles that include many more languages. Those who need these features will find them essential, so better support is greatly appreciated.
We’re very impressed with Voice Access in general – and Microsoft Word’s integrated dictation – all of which are powered by Dragon (our favorite voice recognition technology), which Microsoft has acquired.
Going back to the “Moment 3” thing we mentioned at the beginning, you might be wondering: what makes us think this build is just that update? Well, PhantomOfEarth, a well-known Windows leaker on Twitter, believes that’s the case.
Looks like May 23rd is going to be a breakout day, that’s when you should expect this feature to roll out as it’s the 4th Tuesday of the month and it seems to be an optional update for May…May 11, 2023
And given the number of changes, we’d be inclined to agree. We also knew that this next “Moment” was going to land soon enough anyway, so in theory we’ll see this transition from Release Preview to all Windows 11 PCs later this month on May 23, if the leaker’s guess is correct.
However, keep in mind that it won’t be a full release, but an optional update – that is, still in preview, in other words – for May. You can grab it early if you want with all the usual feature caveats still in preview, or wait for the full and finalized release to roll out in June.