- Windows 11 build 26040 brings a new design to the Windows setup screen, with a white background and updated UI elements.
- Voice Clarity is a new feature that enhances the quality of your voice during video calls and meetings by cancelling background noise and echo.
- The Narrator in Windows 11 now has improved image consumption capabilities, including the ability to move between images using keyboard shortcuts and improved text recognition.
Installing Windows on your PC has looked the same for over a decade, but that’s finally changing. Microsoft has just released a new Windows 11 build to Insiders in the Canary channel, and it comes with an all-new design for the setup experience, in addition to many other new features and changes.
The Windows Setup finally looks different
Build 26040 of Windows 11 introduces a totally new Windows setup screen, which has looked nearly identical since the release of Windows 8. You might be familiar with the classic purple background with a window border that looks like it came from Windows 7, and yes, that’s a part of Windows that’s been unchanged throughout Windows 10 and Windows 11, at least looks-wise.
With this build, though, there’s a new look for this experience, with a white background and some other UI changes. These include a more visible option to repair your PC rather than perform a new installation of Windows 11, as well as a confirmation prompt for the user to acknowledge that installing Windows 11 will delete all of their data from the computer. The window border design still looks the same, though.
Windows 11 can make you sound better now
Another big feature in this build is called Voice Clarity, which can enhance the quality of your voice during a video call or meeting, or basically in any app that uses the Communications Signal Processing Mode, which is to say, any app designed for communication purposes. Voice clarity cancels background noise and echo to help your voice sound clearer to your audience, so it can be pretty useful.
Voice Clarity is enabled by default for apps that support it, but apps can provide a toggle to disable the feature, in case you want to play music or other audio through your microphone without the risk of it getting cut out.
Voice Clarity has already been available on Surface devices in the past, but this build brings it to adjust about any laptop.
Improved Narrator image experience
Those with special accessibility needs, specifically those using Narrator, also have some good news with this build. The Narrator in Windows 11 now has an improved experience for consuming images, with the ability to move to the next or previous image on a screen/page using a keyboard shortcut, plus improved text recognition in images. This should mean narrator will more accurately read what’s written in an image, which is obviously better for those who can’t see it.
Narator can also now announce draft and resolved comments in Word, as well as bookmarks and accessibility suggestions for the current document.
Notably, Microsoft is also making it possible to use Narrator and voice access at the same time, so you can open apps or interact with the screen using your voice. You can also interact with Narrator, such as by saying “speak faster”.
New features for Windows LAPS
The Windows Local Administrator Password Solution (LAPS) is also getting a bunch of new features with Windows 11 build 26040. For starters, there’s a new automatic account management feature, so LAPS can automatically create a local managed account. There’s also a new PasswordComplexity setting level, now going up to 5, which disables certain characters that can cause readability issues for long passwords, such as 1 and I. The front for displaying the account password has also been updated to be more easily readable.
On the topic of passwords, Windows LAPS also now has a passphrase option, allowing admins to create a more easily repeatable long password with actual words. Admins can choose the maximum length of the password in characters and words to suit their needs. Finally, LAPS can also now detect when the Windows image has been reversed and the local password doesn’t match the password stored in Active Directory. This will let the user know that they can’t sign into the device using that password until the password is automatically refreshed in LAPS, which can take days or weeks.
There are many more changes
In addition to these, Windows 11 build 26040 comes with a lot of smaller changes, including some that were previously available in other channels. This includes the ability to see photos from your phone pop up on your PC through a notification, which made its debut last week in the Dev channel.
Additionally, support for USB4 80Gbps (or USB4 version 2) is now available, and the new Cast experience, which suggests using the Cast feature when multi-tasking, are now available.
Of course, the build includes some smaller changes, such as WordPad being removed if you perform a clean install of this build or Copilot moving to the left corner of the screen.
There are some brand-new changes, though. For starters, Task Manager has a new icon that aligns with the Windows 11 design language and looks much nicer.
Microsoft has also added new compression options for files, so you can choose the level of compression, format, and more settings for compressed archives. Additionally, clicking the Share button in a browser that uses the Windows 11 share window now gives you the option to share directly to Facebook, X (Twitter), WhatsApp, LinkedIn, and Gmail. Additionally, for those using Microsoft Entra ID, you can now share items directly to a Teams channel.
Finally, Nearby Share performance has been significantly improved, so you should see files transfer much faster between devices on the same network.
Of course, the build also comes with the usual share of known issues and fixes, which are always to be expected in the Insider program, and even more so in the Canary channel.