Wed. Mar 29th, 2023

PC user

Image: Getty/MoMo Productions

Microsoft’s latest Windows 11 preview build in the Beta channel brings its new Windows Studio Effects feature to Quick Settings in the task bar, the new Energy Recommendations feature, and bigger widgets. 

Windows Studio Effects arrived with Windows 11 22H2 and uses AI to improve video and audio calls on apps like Teams, as well as creator tools and gaming features. But the feature depends on laptops having a Neural Processing Unit (NPU), which include the Surface Pro X with SQ1/SQ2 processors — co-developed by Microsoft and Qualcomm — as well as the latest SQ3 available as variant of the newly announced Surface Pro 9.        

Bringing Studio Effects to Quick Settings on the taskbar makes it quicker to configure camera effects such as background blur, eye contact, and automatic framing, while audio effects include Voice Focus, which is relies on audio processing. Processing of all of these effects happens in the NPU. 

Studio Effects can still be configured in Settings, so it’s a minor change, but putting it in Quick Settings supports Microsoft’s bet on NPUs being the future for mobile and desktop app development

For examplMicrosoft recently released its NPU-equipped $599 Windows-on-Arm dev kit, Windows Dev Kit 2023 (codenamed Project Volterra). Microsoft wants developers to build desktop apps that exploit the NPU for AI/ML workloads.     

Microsoft is also beginning to roll out Energy Recommendations for conserving power and battery usage. Users can apply all of Microsoft’s energy recommendations or a selection of them, such as turning on dark mode, and setting power mode for the best energy efficiency. It’s one of Microsoft’s environmental efforts. Microsoft notes it’s only available for some users at present as it’s currently gathering feedback. 

Other new additions in Build 22621.885 & 22623.885 include an expanded view in Widgets on the Windows 11 widget board for those who thought the original widgets in the board were too small. The change should make them more glanceable. There’s an expand and collapse button in the top right corner of the widget board, which stays the size once it’s been set. Again, this is gradually being rolled out. 

Build 22623.885 also has numerous bug fixes for the taskbar and system tray and File Explorer. Separately, there are also multiple fixes for both build 22621.885 and build 22623.885 for taskbar and system tray.     

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