Let’s look at some of the new (or new-ish) stuff in Windows 11. Widgets (again), Voice typing (Speech to text), Meet Now, Teams and putting Android apps on the Windows desktop.
See all the Office-Watch.com coverage of Windows 11
Widgets are returning or to put it another way, Microsoft is trying again to have little applets on the screen. Snippets of news, weather, stock info and other information. News will be selected by some Artificial Intelligence, which Microsoft is promoting as a good thing despite the troubles with the ‘News and Interests’ pop-up in the latest Windows 10.
Win11 Widgets are similar to the ‘News and Interests’ button in the latest Windows 10.
Microsoft has tried some kind of widgets at least twice before. Windows Vista had Gadgets. Windows 8/10 had Live Tiles on the Start Menu. The latter was so uninspiring that not even Microsoft’s own Outlook team bothered to support Live Tiles, let alone outside developers.
It’s up to third-party developers to make this new Widgets menu work. If and when Microsoft’s Outlook team supports Win11 Widgets, we’ll know to take them seriously.
‘Speech to text’, dictation or voice typing will be included in Windows 11. That will let (almost) any Windows program use voice to enter text. Start by pressing Win + H (for Hear ?).
Office 365 already has Dictation. It will be interesting to see what, if any differences there are between the Office 365 and Windows 11 features.
Voice typing launcher – opens voice typing whenever you click in a text area. Then either click on the microphone icon or press Win + H to start ‘speech to text’.
The multiple item Clipboard is the single best addition to Windows 10 for many years … in our humble opinion. You can copy several items to the clipboard then paste in any order via Win + V (instead of the usual Ctrl + V).
Optionally, the clipboard items can be syncronized between compatible devices linked with the same Microsoft account.
Of course, Clipboard History remains in Windows 11 with one change. Syncronization can be automatic (as in Win10) or manual (only done when you choose). That will satisfy some privacy and performance concerns about the current automatic sync.
Emoji Panel – a step backwards
The Emoji Panel from Windows 10 continues in Win11 with the same shortcut (Win + . ). Except now it appears on bottom right of the screen not near where the user is typing. It also includes the Clipboard History.
We’ll hold off judgement on the Windows 11 Emoji Panel for the moment but have to say that Microsoft seems to have ignored almost all the complaints about the Win10 version. At least there’s now a proper Search bar within the app but otherwise the current preview is a step backwards. See Emoji Panel is part of Windows 10 that totally sucks
What are the management in charge of the Emoji Panel thinking? We’re serious – can someone explain the logic behind the Emoji Panel besides pandering to a supposed ‘younger demographic’? Our Feedback page is available 24/7, all comments are private, naturally.
It’s amazing how a little competition will motivate Microsoft. Two rivals, Slack and Zoom, have done more to improve and expand Microsoft products than any amount of customer requests could ever do.
The popularity of Zoom forced Microsoft to improve their video calling and conferencing options. Skype is still available (and definitely has uses) but now there’s ‘Meet Now’ a hybrid of Skype’s computer to computer calling with meeting and collaboration tools in Teams.
Windows 11 is reportedly taking that a step further by integrating Meet Now into the operating system. A Meet Now button will be available on the taskbar.
Skype still has a place, especially for calling regular phone numbers, hopefully using the 60 minutes of ‘free’ calls available to all Microsoft 365 Family/Personal users.
The Teams app will be included in Windows 11 with a pop-up summary of recent chats plus buttons to Meet Now, Chat and open the full Teams app.
Android apps on Windows 11
Google Android apps will be able to run on Windows 11. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the Win11 announcement. This could be interesting for some people, mostly gamers who would like to play their favorite app on a bigger screen.
Some apps which don’t have a Windows or web equivalent like modern banking services and ride apps like Uber and Lyft.
Details on how this will work are trickling out. Microsoft’s initial announcement was that apps could be installed from the Amazon app store. Later they revealed a more complex situation.
- The Google Play store, where most Android users get their apps, won’t be available.
- Not all apps on the Amazon App Store can be installed on Windows 11.
- App developers will have to tweak their apps to make them Windows 11 compatible. Details on that to be announced.
- The Amazon app store is not compulsory. Windows 11 users will be able to install compatible apps via an APK download. APK’s are Android app install packages.
It will be ‘interesting’ to see how this works in practice.
We’d prefer to see a much simpler remote access option. The smartphone screen appearing on the Windows desktop so users can see and control apps directly would be easier and less trouble than trying to get smartphone apps to work in Windows.
See all the Office-Watch.com coverage of Windows 11