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Microsoft has announced the release of Windows 11 Insider Preview Build 23481 to the Dev Channel. This latest build brings several exciting improvements and enhancements to Windows Ink, and Folder Options in File Explorer, and introduces a new widget called Focus Session.


In addition, it includes changes and improvements to the Taskbar & System Tray, File Explorer, and Voice Access. The build also addresses various issues and provides a list of known issues that users should be aware of. Let's dive into the details of what's new in this release.


Get Ready for Windows 11 Build 23481: Unleash Your Pen, Streamline File Management, and Boost Your Workflow
Windows 11 Build 23481 Introduces Enhanced Ink, Streamlined File Explorer, and Game-Changing Widgets


What's new and improved in Windows 11 Build 23481?

Folder Options Changes in File Explorer

In an effort to streamline File Explorer settings, Microsoft has removed several legacy settings from the Folder Options section. These settings, which have been around for ages and are rarely used by Windows 11 users, clutter the interface unnecessarily. By eliminating these outdated options, Microsoft aims to simplify the user experience and make File Explorer more efficient.


The following settings will no longer appear under Folder Options in File Explorer:

  • Hide Folder Merge conflict
  • Always show icons, never thumbnails
  • Display file icon on thumbnails
  • Display file type information on Folder tips
  • Hide protected OS files
  • Show drive letters
  • Show popup description for Folder and Desktop items
  • Show encrypted or compressed NTFS files in color
  • Use sharing wizard



Windows Ink Enhancements

Windows Ink Enhancements


Windows Ink, the digital inking feature of Windows, receives significant improvements in Build 23481. Users can now enable inking directly onto edit fields, providing a more seamless and intuitive experience. The accuracy of the ink recognition technology has been enhanced, ensuring more precise and reliable results.


Additionally, a scratch-out gesture has been introduced, allowing users to make edits and corrections with ease. While these improvements currently support English (U.S.) only, broader language support is expected in the future. Users can access these new Windows Ink features through Settings > Bluetooth and devices > Pen and Windows Ink under "Shell Handwriting".



Introducing Focus Session Widget

Windows Insiders in the Canary and Dev Channels will receive a new widget called Focus Session as part of an update to the Clock app (version 11.2305.6.0 and higher) via the Microsoft Store. With this widget, users can easily start and stop focus sessions on their devices. Whether you need to concentrate on work, study, or any task that requires undivided attention, the Focus Session widget provides a dedicated tool to enhance productivity.



Other Changes, Improvements, and Fixes

Build 23481 also brings several changes and improvements to existing features. The "Never combined" mode, which allows users to see each window of their applications individually on the taskbar, is now available to all Windows Insiders in the Dev Channel. Microsoft Teams – Free is now the default pinned app on the taskbar, and users can easily unpin it like other apps. Microsoft is committed to enhancing the Teams experience by adding more features and improvements in the future.


File Explorer has received some attention as well. The ability to tear out and merge tabs, which was introduced in a previous build, is now accessible to all Dev Channel users. Additionally, the new text authoring experiences in voice access are now available to all Windows Insiders in the Dev Channel. These improvements enhance accessibility and provide users with more options for interacting with their Windows devices.



In terms of fixes, Build 23481 addresses several issues reported by Windows Insiders. Some of the fixes include resolving blurry icons in the File Explorer context menu, ensuring a reliable display of sync status icons for files backing up to a storage provider, and fixing authentication errors on File Explorer Home. The update also resolves issues related to the modernized address bar and File Explorer Home, providing a smoother and more stable user experience.



End Notes

As Microsoft releases Windows 11 Insider Preview Build 23481 to the Dev Channel, users are given a glimpse into the ongoing evolution of the operating system. The improvements in Windows Ink, Folder Options, and the introduction of the Focus Session widget highlight Microsoft's commitment to enhancing user experience and productivity.


By modernizing Windows Ink, users can now seamlessly use their pen to write and draw in any text input area, while the removal of legacy settings in Folder Options streamlines File Explorer. The new Focus Session widget adds a valuable productivity tool, allowing users to easily start and stop focused work sessions.



Windows Insiders play a crucial role in providing feedback and shaping the future of Windows 11. Microsoft's dedication to addressing reported issues and implementing fixes ensures a more refined and stable operating system.


As Windows 11 progresses toward its official release, users can anticipate further improvements and enhancements based on user feedback and the ongoing development efforts by Microsoft. The combination of user-centric features and a commitment to refining the user experience positions Windows 11 as a promising operating system for both productivity and creativity.


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