It looks like you’re a developer. Would you like help upgrading Windows 11?
Microsoft adds a PC setup option and tools just for coders in Win 11 23H2, which debuted Tuesday
Microsoft has started to deliver Windows 11 23H2, aka the "Moment 4" update, bringing a host of changes – including an option to set up the OS in a configuration intended to delight software developers.
Windows already allows users to specify how they intend to use a PC when they boot Windows for the first time, then loads software Microsoft thinks is apt.
Microsoft has created just such tools for developers – principally Dev Home, which the company bills as a "control center for Windows providing the ability to monitor projects in your dashboard using customizable widgets, set up your dev environment by downloading apps, packages, or repositories, connect to your developer accounts and tools (such as GitHub), and create a Dev Drive for storage all in one place."
Dev Drive is a local storage volume based on ReFS tuned to the needs of developers with features like Copy-on-Write (CoW) linking, aka block cloning. Microsoft likes CoW because when copying a file, it "creates a metadata reference to the original data on-disk, so that disk space can be saved and less actual data is copied."
Users of Visual Studio will apparently notice improved performance when performing chores like cloning, building, copying files, and package restores.
One of Microsoft's selling points for Dev Home is that it includes widgets to monitor the performance of a system's memory, CPU, and GPU, and lists SSH connections available in the
ssh/.config file. There's also a Dev Home GitHub extension that links to GitHub credentials to provide customizable widgets and notifications.
Microsoft's also added a web search facility to Windows Terminal, which looks likely to save many ALT-TAB-CTRL-L combos.
Terminal also gains "Broadcast Input" which allows commands to be sent from one pane to another. The command line tool also gets a "Suggestion UI" that considers your most recently input command and suggests your next move.
Copilot sits down
The dev-centric stuff is of course a subset of the goodies Microsoft has packed into this release, with its generative AI Copilot very much the headliner – even though it's a preview.
Microsoft has billed it as capable of helping with chores like "summarizing a web page, composing an email to your daughter's new teacher … or generating an image for that unique idea in your head."
Copilot can also help to perform chores in Windows itself. Microsoft has mentioned turning on Bluetooth and connecting a new pair of headphones, taking screenshots, or implementing dark mode.
The need to have AI do that is interesting commentary on Windows 11's overall usability. But we digress.
Microsoft has also sprinkled some AI fairy dust on the Start Menu and File Explorer, which will suggest the files you might wish to access based on past behavior. Start already does that, based on recently accessed files and apps, but now it does it with AI.
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Windows admins may appreciate the ability to enforce biometric authentication by removing the option to add a password to the OS, or the "Config refresh" that regularly wipes any registry settings changes on the assumption they were inadvertent. Intune with App Control for Business – previously known as Windows Defender Application Control – tries to detect executable file-based malware and stop it from running until it can be proven trustworthy.
Another Windows 11 addition allows booting a local PC straight into a cloudy PC – an option The Register intends to test.
This release will receive 24 months of support for Windows 11 Home, Pro, Pro for Workstations, and Pro Education editions. Buyers of Enterprise and Education editions get an extra 12 months of support.
Enterprise users can choose to install the update. Microsoft advised that "Windows 11 devices will get new functionality at different times, as we will be gradually rolling out some of these new features over the coming weeks initially via controlled feature rollout to consumers."
That regime means many users will have time to enable Windows Update to install updates – as is required – and to visit Microsoft's release health service in case Windows 11 23H2 proves problematic. ®