Microsoft's latest build for Windows 11 offers slew of new features


Why it matters: The latest preview of Windows 11 has reached the Canary Channel. It includes features such as AI-enhanced audio, support for USB 80Gbps, and new photo editing functionality. While the changes are not final, it is insightful to see what Microsoft thinks is essential for its latest generation of Windows.

Microsoft released Windows 11 Insider Preview Build 26040 to the Canary Channel. The beta has several changes, including AI-enhanced audio, select support for USB 80Gbps, and new photo editing functionality when using the snipping tool.

The “Remote Capture” feature introduced to the Phone Link app last year has moved to the snipping tool. Remote Capture allows users to access and edit their most recent photos and screenshots from an Android mobile device in the snipping tool on a PC. It delivers an instant notification on the PC whenever a new photo or screenshot is captured on the Android device.

To enable Remote Capture, go to Settings > Bluetooth & devices > Mobile devices and choose “Manage devices” to allow the PC to access the Android phone. The PC will get a Cross-Device Experience Host update in the Microsoft Store, which is necessary for the feature to work.

Microsoft is also expanding Voice Clarity, which up until now has been available only on Surface devices. Voice Clarity cancels echo, suppresses background noise, and reduces reverberation in real-time using rudimentary AI models. The on-by-default feature supports x64 and Arm64 CPUs in apps using Communications Signal Processing Mode, such as Phone Link and WhatsApp.

Build 26040 also supports the latest generation USB standard, USB 80Gbps, for select devices with Intel Core 14th Gen HX-series mobile processors, such as the new Razer Blade 18. Microsoft notes it is the first major version update of the USB4 standard, increasing performance from 40Gbps to 80Gbps and enabling the next generation of high-performance displays, storage, and connectivity. It is also backward compatible with peripherals built for older generations of USB and Thunderbolt.

Narrator gains a new keyboard command for navigating between the images or graphics on a screen or page. Users can now tap the keys “G” or “Shift + G” to navigate forward or backward between images in Scan mode (Narrator key + spacebar). The build also improved recognition of text in images, including handwriting, as well as improvements to overall image descriptions. To try out this functionality, navigate to the image and press the Narrator key + CTRL + D key combination when the focus is on an image.

There are also several changes to Windows Local Administrator Password Solution, or LAPS, with new features, including automatic account management, passphrase support, and image rollback detection. Check out the full list of features on Microsoft’s blog.

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