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The big picture: Windows 11 Insider previews have frequently hinted at what features users can expect from Microsoft’s eventual public release. Now, with the rollout of this first major feature update, Windows 11 users can finally access Android apps via the Amazon Appstore Preview, as long as they’re in the US. Meanwhile, other features rolling out across the globe include Taskbar enhancements, refreshed Notepad and Media Player apps, and a more powerful Teams experience.
Official Android app support in Windows 11 got plenty of attention during Microsoft’s reveal of the feature last year. The capability, however, was notably missing from the first official release of the OS and could only be found in Insider builds, until now.
In its first major Windows 11 update, Microsoft has rolled out the feature to the public, albeit still in limited fashion. For a start, it is only available to US users, giving them access to over 1,000 Android apps and games from the Amazon AppStore.
The latter is also currently in ‘Preview’ state, meaning more finishing touches can be expected before a wider rollout for the global Windows 11 user base. Moreover, those looking to sideload Android APKs can do so now after installing this update.
Microsoft also shipped two redesigned native apps in this release: the Notepad, which now comes with refreshed, simplified menus, a dark theme, and several typing improvements; and the new Media Player, which replaces Microsoft’s Groove music app and is designed to be a central hub for music and videos.
In terms of Taskbar enhancements, the update brings back the weather widget, which now serves as the entry point for the Windows 11 widget panel. In the case of the default centrally-aligned Taskbar, this widget appears to the extreme left, while users with a left-aligned Taskbar will find it to the right of the task view icon.
Additionally, those with dual/multi-monitor setups will now be able to view the date and time across all their screens. Microsoft is also enticing Windows 11 users with exclusive improvements to the Teams app. Meetings conducted with the latter can now be muted/unmuted instantly with a new mic icon located in the Taskbar.
The addition of window sharing, meanwhile, lets users quickly hover any open app icon in the Taskbar and share content with a couple of clicks. Microsoft notes that these features are only available to Team users with a work or school account.
Windows 11 users can also expect more feature updates outside the annual release schedule. In addition to making the OS the best open platform for innovation, Microsoft says it’s also focused on making Windows the best place for gaming and a ‘gateway’ to the metaverse. What the latter entails remains to be seen.