Notepad Dark Mode and Android apps arrive on Windows 11
Also, Taskbar tweaked and Groove music muted
Microsoft has attempted to smooth out some of the rough edges in Windows 11 while also releasing a mainstream preview of Android app support.
PC users with compatible hardware may already be running the operating system, and while Windows Insiders have been able to fire up Android apps via a combination of the Windows Subsystem for Android and Amazon Appstore for a while now, this is the first time that mainstream users will be able to get their hands on the technology.
Only 1,000 or so apps and games will be available in the US to start, but for those willing to jump through the hoops to make the technology work, it is undoubtedly a substantial step up from the Your Phone experience of running Android apps on Windows 11.
Sure, there are alternative ways of getting access to Android apps from other locations, such as the Google Play Store, as well as making Windows 11 work on non-supported hardware, but there's no way of knowing when Microsoft might pull the rug out from beneath your PC.
Windows 10 users must continue to run their Android apps on their phones and use Your Phone to enjoy them on the Windows desktop.
Other tweaks in the update include window sharing and mute controls on the taskbar, "available to Microsoft Teams users with a work or school account."
When the function was popped in a preview last year, Element COO Amandine Le Pape quipped: "It looks like it's more about muting the competition."
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To be fair, Microsoft did say in November that other communications applications could add the capability, but the focus of this week's taskbar tinkering was very much about the delight to be had from muting Teams.
Also muted once and for all is Groove music. The last vestiges of Microsoft's failed music streaming service have been replaced with a buffed-up version of old faithful Media Player (although music in the Groove library will be migrated across).
Another veteran, Notepad, has received its own facelift with support for dark mode and "simplified" menus. Multi-level undo is present and rather useful. The same could not be said about support for "colorful emojis," perhaps.
Other bits and pieces include a weather widget, ideal for offices without windows, and a clock on that taskbar of one's second monitor.
Microsoft has told users to expect an annual cadence for Windows 11. However, this week's update has shown it also determined to fiddle with the user experience all year round. "We will leverage the variety of update mechanisms we have in place including servicing and Microsoft Store updates," threatened Windows boss Panos Panay. ®