Microsoft released a new Windows 11 Insider Preview build today, dubbed 22518, to the dev channel. This build has quite a few additions which we are going to talk about here. Sadly, the build won’t go live for ARM64 PCs yet due to a bug that causes a rollback when installing the build.
Spotlight Collection for Windows 11
Spotlight was first introduced in Windows 10 as a tool to change the lock screen wallpaper periodically, and this was later extended to the desktop background also. Build 22518 brings this feature to Windows 11. This feature can be enabled from the “Personalize” window, and is listed under the “Personalize your Background” dropdown menu, where you have to select “Spotlight Collection”.
Spotlight collection hasn’t been optimized for most languages yet and will only show text in English. Hence, the feature is only available to Windows Insiders in limited countries.
Please note the Spotlight collection experience is not yet localized and will show text in English only. Full localization will come in a future update. Spotlight collection is available to Windows Insiders in the following countries: Australia, Canada, China, Finland, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Korea, Norway, Spain, Sweden, U.K., U.S. More countries will be added over time.
New Way to Access Widgets on Windows 11
Widgets were introduced with Windows 11 and are very similar to the “News and Interests” feature on Windows 10. Although in Windows 11, the “Widget” feature has a different interface.
With Build 22518, “Widgets” can now be accessed from the live weather counter on the left side of the taskbar. Just hovering over the Weather Counter with the cursor will open the “Widgets” menu.
This won’t be enabled for all Insiders who update to the new build as Microsoft plans to gauge feedback from the limited roll-out.
Offline Voice Access
Voice Access is probably the most significant addition to the new Insider Build. This can be accessed from the settings menu (Settings > Accessibility > Speech).
With the new Voice access feature, users can use voice commands to control their Windows computers, something like modern smartphone assistants. The even better news? The new Voice Access feature doesn’t require an active internet connection. Users only need to download the speech model during initial setup.
There are a host of commands like “Open Application”, “Minimize Windows” and more. You can find the entire list of commands here.
Voice access leverages modern, on-device speech recognition to accurately recognize speech and is supported without an internet connection. Voice access supports English-U.S. language only, so the Windows display language should be set to English-U.S., otherwise voice access may not work as expected.
Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) Can Now be Installed From Microsoft Store
WSL lets developers run a Linux environment (ELF) directly on Windows, giving them access to applications and command-line tools.
In the new Windows 11 Insider Build, Microsoft has made installation easier. Earlier, users had to enable WSL from the control panel before installing distros from the Microsoft Store. Now, this is enabled by default and users can directly download Linux distros. Microsoft has also added additional commands to make the configuration easier.
Starting in this preview build, we’ve made it easier for new users to get started with the WSL in the Microsoft Store by changing the `wsl.exe –install` command to install WSL from the Microsoft Store by default. Additionally, we’ve added some additional arguments to `wsl.exe –install` to make it easier to configure your install, such as `wsl –install –no-launch` which will install a new WSL distro without immediately launching it.
You can read the entire changelog for the new Windows 11 Insider build here.