What you should know about the latest Windows 11 update

What you should know about the latest Windows 11 update
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Almost a year after Microsoft launched its flagship Windows 11, the tech giant has officially rolled out its first major update to the operating system.

The update, which is available free of charge for current Windows 11 users, was released in more than 190 countries on Tuesday. Many of the new features are based on Microsoft’s vision for the future of hybrid work.

“We have developed new habits; and they got stuck,” wrote Panos Panay, EVP and chief product officer of Windows and Devices at Microsoft, in a blog entry Announcing the update. “Our job is never done making sure Windows evolves and adapts with you.”

Panay, who said that Windows 11 is the most used version of Windows in its history, detailed how the latest update aims to make remote work on PC even easier and safer. For example, a new tool called Smart App Control uses AI to prevent malicious or untrustworthy apps from running on devices. Microsoft calls Windows 11 the most secure version of the operating system to date.

Other changes include improvements to the Snap Layout program, which helps users optimize their view when they need to have multiple apps or documents in front of them at once. It also introduces a “Focus Sessions” and “Do Not Disturb” feature to minimize distractions that distract you from the task at hand. Starting a new Focus session activates the Do Not Disturb feature, which silences all notifications and disables taskbar badges.

The Start menu also gets refreshed, including a faster and more accurate search function and new ways to customize the menu. Tabs are now also available in File Explorer, which Panay says was the most frequently asked question by Windows users.

Meanwhile, a new tool called Windows Studio Effects helps enhance video and audio calls using AI technology that filters out background noise like lawnmowers and babies crying, and blurs background objects. It also subtly lifts a speaker’s eyes to make it appear as if they’re looking directly at the camera on video calls.

Microsoft is also rolling out some of its previously announced accessibility features, including System-Wide Live Captions, which automatically generate captions from any form of audio content on Windows 11, and an update to Natural Voices for Narrator that better reflects natural speech patterns and helps when reading documents or while surfing the internet.

Microsoft previously to CNN that many of the new inclusivity features were developed in part by Microsoft employees with disabilities.

The update will be offered via a “measured and phased rollout” approach, Microsoft said in a separate statement blog entry. Users with eligible devices can get the update simply by opening “Windows Update” in their settings.

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