Announcing Windows 11 Insider Preview Build 22621.2129 and 22631.2129

Hello Windows Insiders,

Today we are releasing Windows 11 Insider Preview Build 22621.2129 and Build 22631.2129 (KB5029359) to the Beta Channel.

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you are a NEW Windows Insider joining the Beta Channel today, you will not be offered this update to prevent the possibility of your device getting into a bad state. A very small subset of EXISTING Windows Insiders may also not receive this update for the same reason. This issue will be fixed in a newer Beta Channel update soon. Thank you for your patience!

REMINDER: Insiders who were previously on Build 22624 will automatically get moved to Build 22631 via an enablement package. The enablement package artificially increments the build number for the update with new features getting rolled out and turned on to make it easier to differentiate from devices with the update with features off by default. This approach is being used for the Beta Channel only and is not indicative of any changes or plans for final feature rollouts.

Insiders who landed in the group with new features turned off by default (Build 22621.xxxx) can check for updates and choose to install the update that will have features rolling out (Build 22631.xxxx).

August 2023 Bug Bash: Starting today August 2nd, the bug bash begins and will run through Monday August 7th at 11:59pm PDT. The bug bash will span the latest features available in the currently available preview builds across the Canary, Dev, and Beta Channels. Check Feedback Hub for quests!

What’s new in Build 22631.2129

Windows Copilot Preview

Back in May at the Build conference, we introduced Windows Copilot for Windows 11At the end of June, we kicked off the first preview of Windows Copilot and today, we’re expanding the preview to Windows Insiders in the Beta Channel via a controlled feature rollout. This first preview focuses on our integrated UI experience, with additional functionality coming down the road in future previews. To use Copilot in this flight you must have Windows 11 Insider Preview Build 22631.2129 or higher in the Beta Channel, and Microsoft Edge version 115.0.1901.150 or higher.

To get started, just click on the new button on the taskbar (or WIN + C) to launch Windows Copilot. Windows Copilot will use the same Microsoft account (MSA) or Azure Active Directory (AAD) account used to sign-in to Windows.

Windows Copilot will appear as a side bar docked to the right where it won’t overlap with your desktop content and will run unobstructed alongside your open app windows, allowing you to interact with Windows Copilot anytime you need.

In this first preview, you can ask Windows Copilot a range of questions or to take actions such as:

Just click the “…” icon at the top right of the side bar in Windows Copilot to submit feedback on any issues you run into.

As we begin the rollout for the Windows Copilot Preview to Windows Insiders in the Beta Channel, please understand that not everyone in the Beta Channel will see it right away. We will continue to increase the rollout in the coming weeks. Windows insiders in the Beta Channel who log in and are managed by AAD (soon to be Microsoft Entra ID) will see Windows Copilot in a future flight.

Windows Copilot with Bing Chat generates responses that are contextual and improves your experience in Windows. You may see inline recommendations we think are relevant through ads in Bing. We’ll continue to learn and listen to customer feedback. Understand what Bing does with your data by visiting Microsoft Privacy Statement. Read more about our responsible AI journey, the ethical principles that guide us, and the tooling and capabilities we’ve created to assure that we develop AI technology responsibly at Microsoft’s commitment to responsible AI.

Please note that not everything shown at Build for Windows Copilot is included in this first, early preview. For example, Windows Copilot has a basic set of Windows settings plugins but no third-party plugin support yet. Over time, features will be added as we refine the Windows Copilot experience with Windows Insiders.

[We are beginning to roll this out, so the experience isn’t available to all Insiders in the Beta Channel just yet as we plan to monitor feedback and see how it lands before pushing it out to everyone.] 

Dev Drive

Dev Drive is a new form of storage volume available to improve performance for key developer workloads. Dev Drive is built upon Resilient File System (ReFS) technology and includes file system optimizations and features that enable developers to better manage their performance and security profile. It has been designed to meet a developer’s needs to host project source code, working folders, and package caches. It is not designed for general consumer workloads such as document libraries, installing packaged applications or non-developer tools.

To setup a Dev Drive, you can create one in free space on an existing drive or create a VHD/VHDX. This is done via Settings > System > For developers, or via the command-line. A Dev Drive must be at least 50GB or higher in size and we recommend having 8GB or higher RAM on your device.

Performance mode, a new capability of Microsoft Defender Antivirus, is designed for Dev Drive to minimize impact on developer workloads.

More details on Dev Drive, see this documentation on MS Learn.

FEEDBACK: Please file feedback in Feedback Hub (WIN + F) under Developer Platform > Dev Drive.

Narrator enhances interaction with Excel

Narrator now provides a more succinct and efficient reading experience while working in Microsoft Excel. Announcements are prioritized based on the information you need to skim a workbook and are customizable using convenient keyboard shortcuts. Review the Enhanced Narrator support in Excel documentation for further information.

To enable the enhanced announcements, you need to be on the latest Windows Insider and Microsoft 365 Insiders builds and start Narrator using the keyboard shortcut Control + Windows + Enter. The updated experience will be available through the Microsoft Store, so it may take a few minutes to be available on your PC. We look forward to you trying out our new changes and would love to hear your feedback and suggestions.

FEEDBACK: Please file feedback in Feedback Hub (Win + F) under Accessibility > Narrator.

New text authoring experiences in voice access 

We have added two new experiences to make text authoring easy with voice access. Users can now use “correction” commands to correct words that are misrecognized by voice access.

You can say “correct [text]” or “correct that” to correct a specific piece of text or last dictated text. The correction window appears with a list of options labelled with numbers.

You can say “click [number]” to select any option from the list. If you choose an alternate word from the window , the selected text will be replaced by the word. You can also say “spell that” to dictate the correct spelling of the text.

Users can directly use the “spell that” or “spell out” command to dictate the right spelling of non-standard words such as usernames, topics, etc.  A spelling window appears where you can dictate letters, numbers, symbols, phonetic alphabet, etc. You get suggestions as you spell out the text. You can say “click 1” to enter the text you spelled out or say “click [number]” to pick a suggestion (if any). All words and phrases dictated using spelling experience are added to Windows dictionary and show up as suggestions when you try to spell the text next time.

To do this

Say this

Correct a specific word or text

“correct [text]”, e.g., “correct site”

Correct selected text or last dictated text

“correct that”

Spell a word letter by letter.

, “spell that”

FEEDBACK: Please file feedback in Feedback Hub (WIN + F) under Accessibility > Voice Access.

Voice access is now available to use on more areas in Windows

We have added support for voice access to work right when you start your PC. You can use voice access to login to your PC and access other areas on the Lock screen. You can turn on voice access from the accessibility flyout on Lock screen or have it on automatically every time by checking the setting to “Start voice access before you sign in to your PC”  via Settings > Accessibility > Speech.

Note: If you have never tried voice access, we recommend you search for voice access in search on the taskbar and complete the initial setup before trying it first time on the lock screen.

You can follow the instructions on the voice access bar to get your focus on the password field and use your voice to dictate your password or PIN. Alternatively, you can say “show keyboard” to bring up the touch keyboard with number labels on it. You can say the numbers on the keys to enter the letters associated with it. This will mask the actual password you are entering from being heard by anyone in your vicinity.

You can also use other commands such as “show numbers” or “click [element name]” to access other elements on t.

And voice access now works for apps running with Microsoft Defender Application Guard.

FEEDBACK: Please file feedback in Feedback Hub (WIN + F) under Accessibility > Voice Access.

Passwordless experience with Windows Hello for Business

With Windows Hello for Business (WHFB), Windows provides organizations with a strong, phish-resistant credential, helping customers move to a passwordless future. Enterprise customers can now set the EnablePasswordlessExperience policy that promotes a user experience on AAD joined machines for core authentication scenarios without requiring a password. This new experience hides passwords from certain Windows authentication scenarios and leverages passwordless recovery mechanisms, such as WHFB PIN reset, if necessary.

Once the policy is set, it removes passwords from the user experience, both for device logon as well as in-session auth scenarios like password managers in a web browser or “Run as” admin scenarios, and User Account Control (UAC). Users will navigate through their core authentication scenarios using WHFB in place of passwords. If the user fails to sign in, recovery mechanisms such as PIN reset or web sign-in can be used to help the user recover their credentials without IT helpdesk engagement.

FEEDBACK: Please file feedback in Feedback Hub (WIN + F) under Security and Privacy > Windows Hello PIN. 

Improving the screen casting experience

Casting from your Windows PC allows you to wirelessly extend your display to another nearby PC, TV or other external displays. We are making some improvements that focus on educating people about the Cast feature, improving its discoverability, and simplifying the overall experience in Windows 11. Those improvements include:

FEEDBACK: Please file feedback in Feedback Hub (WIN + F) under Display and Graphics > Wireless Display and Casting.

Presence Sensing Improvements

For PCs with presence sensors that support attention detection, we are introducing Adaptive Dimming. Now your device can intelligently dim your screen when you look away and undim when you look back. You will find these settings under Settings > Privacy & security > Presence sensing here if your device supports it.

Wake on Approach, Lock on Leave, Adaptive Dimming are all powered by Presence Sensing in Windows and now can be enabled via the OOBE (“out of box experience”) setup process when choosing your privacy settings for your device. This will give more control of the presence sensing features and app access to presence information when setting up a new device with a compatible sensor.

As a reminder, app developers with devices with compatible presence sensors can target apps to request and read user presence information after requesting a human presence capability. Learn more about the API here.

FEEDBACK: Please file feedback in Feedback Hub (WIN + F) under Devices and Drivers > Sensors.

Changes and Improvements in Build 22631.2129

[Start menu]
[Taskbar & System Tray]
[Task Manager]

ALT-TEXT: Warning if location services are disabled on the Date and Time settings page.

About the Beta Channel

The Beta Channel is the place we preview experiences that are closer to what we will ship to our general customers. Because the Dev and Beta Channels represent parallel development paths from our engineers, there may be cases where features and experiences show up in the Beta Channel first. However, this does not mean every feature we try out in the Beta Channel will ship. We encourage Insiders to read this blog post that outlines the ways we’ll try things out with Insiders in both the Dev and Beta Channels.

Important Insider Links

Before you update your machine, visit the Announcing Windows 11 Insider Preview Build 22621.2129 and 22631.2129 | Windows Insider Blog today to view full details on new features, general changes, improvements, known issues and much more!