Closer Look to several apps or settings of Windows 11

Gandalf_The_Grey

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New closer look articles are posted.
The latest:
Closer Look: Settings app UI in Windows 11
Overall, I think that Microsoft has done a really good job with the Settings app revamp in Windows 11. It's not perfect as you will come across some inconsistencies and wastage of space in specific sections, but I definitely think that the company is on the right track. I love the colorful icons and the presence of breadcrumbs as they have increased the speed at which I can quickly navigate through different menus. Moving all the settings and profile information to the left and keeping it consistent across all Settings pages regardless of what page you're on also ensures that you can quickly jump through all kinds of settings without having to navigate to the landing page (which is absent in Windows 11) every time. I'm eager to see how Microsoft further evolves this down the line via updates.
All previous ones:
 

Gandalf_The_Grey

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A new closer look article:
Closer Look: Windows Update in Windows 11
Overall, I like the changes made to the Windows Update UI in Windows 11. It's much better organized and it's relatively easier to locate the configuration you're looking for. Less space is wasted on the interface and the information about how long an update will take to install is just a godsend.
 

Gandalf_The_Grey

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A brand-new closer look article:
Closer Look: Start menu App folders in Windows 11 Dev Channel build 22557
During the weeks leading up to the general release of Windows 11 and for some weeks after it, I did a series of Closer Look articles in which I explored several features of the OS and discussed what I liked and disliked about them. However, I decided to put that series on hold after I felt like I had talked about most of what Microsoft's latest OS had to offer and that I was close to scraping the bottom of the barrel.

However, with Microsoft's release of Windows 11 Dev Channel build 22557 a couple of days ago, I was tempted to switch to the Insider channel once again. As this build contains a lot of stuff to unpack, I felt that it is only natural that I resume the Closer Look series so we can talk about features that are not generally available (GA). This is why the title of this article explicitly mentions the Insider channel and the build number so people have a clear idea that anything we talk about from this point onward in this series might not be in the same state when, or if, it hits GA.
All in all, I appreciate the fact that Microsoft is apparently listening to feedback once again and returning useful functionalities - that should not have been stripped away in the first place - to Windows. Although it's pretty bare-bones right now, it's important to keep in mind that this is a Dev Channel build and that Microsoft will likely update it with more functionalities. Furthermore, since this channel is not tied to a particular version of Windows, it's not yet known whether we'll see it in the major update for Windows 11 planned later this year. That said, I hope it hits GA soon because it will definitely improve productivity for a lot of people who utilize the Start menu in Windows 11.
 

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Closer Look: Task Manager in Windows 11 Dev Channel build 22557
All in all, I'm a fan of most of the changes that have been to the Task Manager in Windows 11 Dev Channel build 22557 right now. Sure, the UI isn't fully consistent yet as some three-dotted menus don't even serve any purpose right now, but these are definitely steps in the right direction. We finally have dark theme and we finally have a UI that is more modern than the current legacy implementation, at the very least. It is also important to note that this is a Dev Channel build in which Task Manager will ideally be polished further before it is pushed to stable releases.

I only have one slight concern right now, and that is performance. Currently, swapping between different pages has a minor and nifty animation, but I have noticed at times that there is a slight jitter when I'm moving between pages or when I bring the Task Manager window back in focus after I have navigated away, which can be a bit jarring. I hope that this is something that the Windows development team can resolve before this hits general availability. But once again, this is an Insider build, so here's to hoping that Microsoft improves this further.
 

Gandalf_The_Grey

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Closer Look: Snap Layouts in Windows 11 Dev Channel build 22557
Personally, I love this change. It's a minor improvement but one that could improve the UX in many multitasking use-cases, especially those that are touch-based. You can still use the Maximize button but I think the new implementation is much more intuitive. I think it makes more sense to see Snap Layouts when you are dragging around your window rather than when you are minimizing or maximizing it.

One thing I would like to see improved further in this implementation is that rather than showing a blurred area, maybe there is more utility in showing an actual preview of your desired window? I think that would allow me to make a better decision about whether snapping the window in a slot would still make it usable for me without having to squint my eyes too much. But then again, this is an in-development build so hopefully, Microsoft expands upon this idea further in future iterations.

Of course, you can still use the "old school" method of Win + directional keys if that's what you're used to, but I personally prefer this implementation. And at the end of the day, it's all about giving the customer more options, right? The new implementation coupled with the ability to see a preview of occupied space is a neat improvement and I'd love to see it make its way to the GA version of Windows 11 eventually.
 

silversurfer

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Closer Look: Focus in Windows 11 Dev Channel​

The Windows 11 Dev Channel has received quite a few features in recent iterations, namely build 22557 and build 22563. As such, we are discussing them in more detail via dedicated Closer Look pieces.

So far, we have talked about App folders in the Start menu, Task Manager, Snap Layouts, and File Explorer. Today, we are going to talk about a couple of enhancements that Microsoft made to Windows 11's Focus capabilities with build 22557. Naturally, these improvements are present in the latest build 22563 as well.

For starters, I should clarify that the Focus experience in the Clock app seems to be exactly the same as when I talked about it back in September 2021, so I don't harbor many positive feelings about it. What Microsoft has changed with Dev Channel build 22557 is that the company has integrated the feature more tightly with the Windows 11 Taskbar. [...]
 

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Closer Look: Bluetooth Quick Settings in Windows 11 Dev Channel​

In a nutshell, Microsoft is enabling Windows 11 users to manage their Bluetooth settings and devices directly through the Taskbar. You can click on the system icon tray in the Taskbar to launch the Quick Settings menu, and click on the caret icon next to the Bluetooth to open the dedicated menu for this.

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silversurfer

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Closer Look: Tabbed File Explorer in Windows 11 Dev Channel build 22572​

[...] the basics of a tabbed interface are there. It's nice to see that the overall UI is quite similar to a browser window, which is good because it means that there's not a significant learning curve to familiarize yourself with the interface. You will notice the familiar Windows 11 design aesthetics too, such as rounded corners. Overall, I think it's quite aesthetically pleasing, even in its current unfinished state.

You can click on the "+" icon in the window to open more tabs. I did notice a slight stutter while the new tab populated with icons, which was a bit jarring, but then again, this is an early look so we can't fault Microsoft for this just yet.

I was pleased to see that if you copy and paste files between the same directories open in different tabs, both tabs automatically get refreshed to show you the updated view. Similarly, Snap Layouts work as expected too. I didn't notice any bugs in either of these processes which means that Microsoft has at least nailed the basics already.

Screenshots of File Explorer in Windows 11