Windows 11 is getting one of Windows 10’s most divisive features

Windows 11 has a new preview build which reintroduces the weather widget to the taskbar, plus it adds new voice features on the accessibility front.

Windows 10 users are familiar with the ‘News and interests’ widget, which shows the local weather (and temperature) on the taskbar, and by default when hovered over, highlights a full weather report, breaking news, sports and other miscellany which can be customized (or you can turn it off).

This was ditched from the taskbar with Windows 11, but now with the latest preview build 22518, Microsoft has brought back a weather widget, which is billed as a new ‘entry point’ for widgets on the taskbar.

It sits on the far-left of the default taskbar, and displays the weather just as with ‘News and interests’, and when hovered over pops up the widgets board, complete with whatever widgets you’ve loaded up, plus the headline news panel underneath.

This replaces the old (default) scheme of things with Windows 11, whereby the widget board had a normal-sized icon grouped with the Start button in the middle of the taskbar. Shifting it to the left to sit on its own, and giving it a full weather display, makes it far more prominent as was the case with Windows 10.

Other changes brought in with build 22518 include voice access, a feature that allows for control of core elements of Windows 11 using just your voice. So you can give voice commands to open/close or switch apps, to search via your web browser, plus they can be used to interact with buttons or menus, or to control the mouse, or dictate text.

There’s a lot of functionality here, and Microsoft has provided a full list of voice controls you can peruse. Note that this is only available to testers with Windows display language set to English-US.

Finally, Microsoft has brought the Spotlight collection to the desktop, so those enticing pics you get on the Lock Screen can appear as your background, and these will be switched for other “beautiful new desktop pictures from around the world” every day.


Analysis: Unnecessary clutter returns… But voice features are great

The ‘News and interests’ widget proved pretty controversial on Windows 10, and not popular with some folks, so there will likely be a number of Windows 11 testers grimacing to see its effective return to the taskbar. While it’s tucked away on the left, it’s quite a large presence on the taskbar, and sometimes an annoying one when you accidentally brush the mouse over it, and the panel pops up briefly.

Of course, it’s still only in testing, and might not make the cut for release based on feedback – we shall have to see. And you can still hide the widgets icon if you prefer, so there are options to deal with it, as ever. (It reverts back to a small icon if you’re using a left-aligned taskbar, sitting next to the Task view icon, by the way, as it would obviously be way too jarring for it to displace the Start button in that layout).

While the weather widget may remain divisive, implementing a whole new level of voice control with Windows 11 is great to see. Many of the controls here, incidentally, appear to have been brought over from Nuance’s Dragon speech recognition package; if you recall, Microsoft bought Nuance back in April 2021. This looks like the start of Microsoft really ramping up voice controls with Windows 11.

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Windows 10’s latest troublesome update is now reportedly causing boot failures

Microsoft has run into more trouble with Windows 10 updates, as a recent important security patch which had previously been problematic by failing to install for some folks, is now causing serious crashes – and even boot failures – in some reported cases.

Windows Latest spotted the fresh problems with update KB4528760 for Windows 10 May 2019 Update and the November 2019 Update, which has been failing to install for a number of users, providing only unhelpful error messages.

Worse still, it would now appear that these issues are not only widespread – with in excess of 100 complaints on Microsoft’s help forum – but for some folks, KB4528760 is causing grief like the dreaded blue screen of death and boot failure.

One user on the Windows 10 Feedback Hub observed: “The recent KB4528760 update for Windows 1909 [November 2019 Update] seems to be causing issues with some computers and stopping them from booting. Presenting the error code 0xc000000e. Increasing number of machines hitting this issue after installing this update.”

Connect flaw?

As to what might be going on with the KB4528760 update, one theory floated by a volunteer moderator on Microsoft’s Answer.com help forum is that the majority of the users who are encountering update failures (or worse) – even when attempting a manual install as a workaround – have “manually removed the Connect app from Windows”.

Connect is a default Windows 10 app which facilitates wireless display connections (allowing you to, for example, mirror your phone screen to the PC), but it’s not clear if this is what’s truly at fault – although this application has been blamed in previous Windows 10 update failures.

Indeed, another theory we’ve seen floated on Reddit is that those folks running AMD Ryzen processors might be more likely to be affected (in terms of this update failing, and previous patches for that matter). But take that with a hefty pinch of salt.

Whatever the case, it’s clear that Microsoft keeps messing up with these cumulative updates, and has been doing so since that infamous long run of patches last year which kept causing new problems while fixing the old ones.

In order to avoid a situation where Windows 10 users are going to start dreading installing cumulative updates for fear of what might go wrong, Microsoft needs to pull its patching socks up and do better than this.

The situation is worse than normal in this particular case, seeing as KB4528760 is an important fix for a glaring security hole.

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