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What’s coming in Windows 11 Accessibility

Today, I’m excited to share more information about the Windows 11 accessibility journey. Earlier this year, Microsoft announced its upped commitments and ambitions for accessibility. And, we recently introduced Windows 11. An early preview of Windows 11 is available to Windows Insiders today and will start to be generally available later this year. I’m excited…

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Today, I’m excited to share more information about the Windows 11 accessibility journey.

Earlier this year, Microsoft announced its upped commitments and ambitions for accessibility. And, we recently introduced Windows 11. An early preview of Windows 11 is available to Windows Insiders today and will start to be generally available later this year. I’m excited to share our ambition to empower people with disabilities to achieve more with Windows and more specifically, what’s coming in Windows 11. Note, this is a lengthy post, we’ve got a lot to share.

Beyond possible, efficient and yes, delightful

Accessible technology is a fundamental building block that can unlock opportunities in every part of society. A more accessible Windows experience has the power to help tackle the “disability divide” — to contribute to more education and employment opportunities for people with disabilities across the world.

Already, more than a billion people enjoy creating, connecting, learning and achieving on Windows. Beyond simply making these things possible, we aspire for each of our users across the disability spectrum to enjoy experiences that are efficient, fun and yes, delightful.

Windows has a great opportunity. Our ambition is shaped by you. We have a lot to do, and what’s outlined below is just the start. Information about how to reach us to provide feedback or for assistance with Windows is included at the end of this post.

Windows 11 is the most inclusively designed version of Windows

Windows 11 was redesigned for productivity, creativity and ease of use. While it will feel familiar, e.g., with a Desktop, Start menu, Search, Taskbar, Settings and many other features that you have come to expect, it is also simpler, with a modern, fresh and clean design. Accessibility was considered from the start, with inclusive design reviews of new and redesigned features. And, beyond designing for accessibility with and for people with disabilities, we employed Trusted Tester conformance tests, usability tests and other processes to help ensure Windows 11 is accessible at availability later this year. Meanwhile, we’re excited to gather additional feedback from Windows Insiders about how we can further improve the experience. If you’re not a Windows Insider yet, now is the time to join!

Windows 11 Start menu. Windows 11 is both familiar and simpler with a modern, fresh and clean design.

Windows 11 offers familiar assistive technologies like Narrator, Magnifier, Closed Captions and Windows Speech Recognition to support users across the disability spectrum. Windows 11 also supports assistive technologies created by our partners including popular screen readers, magnification programs, CART services, speech commanding and other experiences.

Windows 11 also includes many improvements.

People who are blind, and everyone, can enjoy new sound schemes. Windows 11 includes delightful Windows start-up and other sounds, including different sounds for more accessible Light and Dark Themes. People with light sensitivity and people working for extended periods of time can enjoy beautiful color themes, including new Dark themes and reimagined High Contrast Themes. The new Contrast Themes include aesthetically pleasing, customizable color combinations that make apps and content easier to see.

Deaf and hard of hearing, language learners, and people in noisy or in quiet environments can enjoy redesigned Closed Caption themes that are easier to read and customize.

And, multiple sets of users can enjoy Windows Voice Typing, which uses state-of-the-art artificial intelligence to recognize speech, transcribe and automatically punctuate text. People with severe arthritis, repetitive stress injuries, cerebral palsy and other mobility related disabilities, learning differences including with severe spelling disabilities, language learners and people that prefer to write with their voice can all enjoy Voice Typing.

Ultimately, everyone can enjoy Windows’ simplified design and user experience. It is modern, fresh, clean and beautiful.

Windows accessibility features are easier to find and use

Importantly, more than improving existing accessibility features, introducing new features and making users’ preferred assistive technology compatible with Windows 11, we are making accessibility features easier to find and use. You gave us feedback that the purpose of the “Ease of Access” Settings and icon was unclear. And you said that you expected to find “Accessibility” settings. We listened and we changed Windows. We rebranded Ease of Access Settings to Accessibility and introduced a new accessibility “human” icon. We redesigned the Accessibility Settings to make them easier to use. And of course, Accessibility features are available in the out of box experience and on the Log on and Lock screens so that users can independently setup and use their devices, e.g., with Narrator.

Windows 11 Accessibility Settings, formerly known as “Ease of Access” Settings.

Windows accessibility just works in more scenarios

Windows 11 is a significant step towards a future in which accessibility “just works,” without costly plug-ins or time-consuming work by Information Technology administrators. With Windows 10, we made it possible for assistive technologies to work with secure applications, like Word, in Windows Defender Application Guard (WDAG). With Windows 11, we made it possible for both Microsoft and partner assistive technologies to work with applications like Outlook hosted in the cloud, in Azure Virtual Desktop (AVD). For example, with Windows 11, Office is accessible as a Remote Application Integrated Locally (RAIL) using Narrator. While that may sound like a lot of jargon to most people, the impact is significant. People who are blind will have access to applications like Office hosted in Azure when they need it.

Windows 11 will also support Linux GUI apps like gedit through the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) on devices that meet the app system requirements. And, we enabled these experiences to be accessible. For example, people who are blind can use Windows with supported screen readers within WSL. In some cases, the assistive technology experience is seamless. For example, Color Filters, “just work.” Importantly, the WSL team prioritized accessibility from the start and committed to enable accessible experiences at launch. They are excited to share more with Insiders and to get feedback to continue to refine the usability of their experiences.

We look forward to sharing more about other new experiences we introduced last week like our partnership with Amazon to bring Android apps to Windows in the coming months.

Modern accessibility platform is great for the assistive technology ecosystem

Finally, I am happy to share that we have been working closely with assistive technology industry leaders to co-engineer what we call the “modern accessibility platform.” Windows 11 delivers a platform that enables more responsive experiences and more agile development, including access to application data without requiring changes to Windows.

We embraced feedback from industry partners that we need to make assistive technology more responsive by design. We embraced the design constraints of making local assistive technology like Narrator “just work” with cloud hosted apps over a network. We invented and co-engineered new Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to do both; to improve the communication between assistive technologies like Narrator and applications like Outlook that significantly improve Narrator responsiveness in some scenarios. The result is that Narrator feels more responsive and works over a network with cloud-hosted apps.

We also embraced feedback from industry partners that we need to increase assistive technology and application developer agility to increase the pace of innovation and user experience improvements. We made it possible for application developers, like Microsoft Office, to expose data programmatically without requiring Windows updates. With Windows 11, application developers will be able to implement UI Automation custom extensions, including custom properties, patterns and annotations that can be consumed by assistive technologies. For users, this means we can develop usability and other improvements at the speed of apps.

Try Windows 11 and give us feedback

An early preview build of Windows 11 is now available to Windows Insiders. And, later this year, Windows 11 will start to be generally available. I’m excited for your feedback — both positive and constructive — to create better experiences for each of us. Whether you’re using an Insider build, or a generally available version, Windows 10 and Windows 11 make it easy to share your thoughts and suggestions — just press the Windows logo key + F to launch the Feedback hub and share what’s top of mind.

Finally, if you are a customer with a disability and need technical assistance, the Disability Answer Desk is there to assist via phone (800-936-5900) and chat. In addition, we also have an ASL option available for our customers who are deaf or hard of hearing in the U.S. (+1 503-427-1234). Please contact us, we are always happy to help.

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Microsoft

Announcing Windows 11 Insider Preview Build 25151

Hello Windows Insiders, today we are releasing Windows 11 Insider Preview Build 25151 to the Dev Channel. TL;DR This build includes a small set of fixes that improve the overall experience for Insiders on their PCs. Fixes [File Explorer] Fixed a scaling issue which could result in the tabs being unexpectedly large. Right clicking a…

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Hello Windows Insiders, today we are releasing Windows 11 Insider Preview Build 25151 to the Dev Channel.

TL;DR

  • This build includes a small set of fixes that improve the overall experience for Insiders on their PCs.

Fixes

[File Explorer]

  • Fixed a scaling issue which could result in the tabs being unexpectedly large.
  • Right clicking a tab and then clicking somewhere else in File Explorer should dismiss the context menu more reliably now.

[Other]

  • We believe an underlying fix in Build 25145 addressed the recent issue where shutting down via the Start menu wasn’t working for some Insiders (unexpectedly rebooting instead), and as such are removing this from the known issues list. If you are continuing to encounter this issue with the latest updates, please report it in the Feedback Hub.
  • Fixed a high hitting Windows Security app crash.
  • Updated the Exclusions page in the Windows Security app so that file paths now make better use of the available space rather than truncating when space is still available.
  • Fixed an underlying issue which was causing a crash when trying to delete ports in printui /s.
  • Fixed an issue causing printing to not work from UWP apps for some Insiders in the last 2 flights.

NOTE: Some fixes noted here in Insider Preview builds from the Dev Channel may make their way into the servicing updates for the released version of Windows 11.

Known issues

[General]

  • We are working on a fix to address reports that the Mica material and Acrylic blur effect is not rendering correct in OS surfaces like the Start menu, Notification Center and other areas.
  • Some games that use Easy Anti-Cheat may crash or cause your PC to bugcheck.
  • [NEW] We’re investigating reports that some Insiders are experiencing bugchecks with error message KMODE_EXCEPTION_NOT_HANDLED in NetAdapterCx.sys starting with Build 25145.

[File Explorer]

  • The up arrow is misaligned in File Explorer tabs. This will be fixed in a future update.
  • We’re investigating reports that launching File Explorer in certain ways when using dark mode (for example, from the command line) is showing the body of File Explorer unexpectedly in light mode.

[Widgets]

  • We’re working on the fix for an issue causing Widgets preferences (temperature units and pinned widgets) to unexpectedly get reset to default.

[Live captions]

  • Certain apps in full screen (e.g., video players) prevent live captions from being visible.
  • Certain apps positioned near the top of the screen and closed before live captions is run will re-launch behind the live captions window positioned at top. Use the system menu (ALT + Spacebar) while the app has focus to move the app’s window further down.

For developers

You can download the latest Windows Insider SDK at aka.ms/windowsinsidersdk.

SDK NuGet packages are now also flighting at NuGet Gallery | WindowsSDK which include:

These NuGet packages provide more granular access to the SDK and better integrate in CI/CD pipelines.

About the Dev Channel

The Dev Channel receives builds that represent long lead work from our engineers with features and experiences that may never get released as we try out different concepts and get feedback. It is important to remember that the builds we release to the Dev Channel should not be seen as matched to any specific release of Windows and the features included may change over time, be removed, or replaced in Insider builds or may never be released beyond Windows Insiders to general customers. For more information, please read this blog post about how we plan to use the Dev Channel to incubate new ideas, work on long lead items, and control the states of individual features.

These aren’t always stable builds, and sometimes you will see issues that block key activities or require workarounds. It is important to make sure you read the known issues listed in our blog posts as we document many of these issues with each flight.

Build numbers are higher in the Dev Channel than the Windows 11 preview builds in the Beta and Release Preview Channels. You will not be able to switch from the Dev Channel to the Beta or Release Preview Channels without doing a clean install back to the released version of Windows 11 currently.

ALSO: Because the Dev and Beta Channels represent parallel development paths from our engineers, there may be cases where features and experiences show up in the Beta Channel first.

The desktop watermark you see at the lower right corner of your desktop is normal for these pre-release builds.

Important Insider Links

Thanks,
Amanda & Brandon

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Minecraft Marketplace 5 Year Celebration Sale now underway

Take advantage of the Minecraft Marketplace 5 Year Celebration Sale going on now through July 12. You’ll find more than 200 discounted packs and special doorbuster deals with 75% off selected content. Plus, you can claim 14 free Character Creator Items and a new adventure from Gamemode One: Spellcraft. Head over to Minecraft.net to find…

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Take advantage of the Minecraft Marketplace 5 Year Celebration Sale going on now through July 12. You’ll find more than 200 discounted packs and special doorbuster deals with 75% off selected content. Plus, you can claim 14 free Character Creator Items and a new adventure from Gamemode One: Spellcraft.

Head over to Minecraft.net to find out more and watch the trailer.

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Upgrades coming to Collections in Microsoft Edge

Summertime has arrived, and with that a chance to hopefully slow down a bit, get outdoors and make memories with our loved ones. During this time of year, some of us are also planning travels or perhaps are tackling projects around the house that we didn’t have time for during the busy school year. This…

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Summertime has arrived, and with that a chance to hopefully slow down a bit, get outdoors and make memories with our loved ones. During this time of year, some of us are also planning travels or perhaps are tackling projects around the house that we didn’t have time for during the busy school year.

This month, we’re introducing upgrades to Collections, with new ways to help you organize your ideas and find inspiration – all with the goal of helping you make the most of your time online so you can focus on what matters most to you.

Remember, if you’re running a Windows PC, you already have Microsoft Edge installed, so launch it and check it out and see why Microsoft Edge is the browser that puts you first and helps you do more of what you love. For those who want to try Microsoft Edge and are on a macOS, mobile or Linux device, download it and let us know what you think![1]

Here’s what’s new in web experiences this month:

We’re upgrading Collections in Microsoft Edge

There are so many reasons to love Collections in Microsoft Edge and we hear it all the time through feedback. It’s a handy tool that helps you collect and organize content you find across the web while keeping all your ideas organized neatly into folders. We’re always looking for ways to make great things even better, so we want to share some new enhancements to Collections designed to help you find and do more of what you love. Here is what’s new in Collections:

Collect all the things you love around the web

As the web has become increasingly visual, we want to make it even easier for you to save and organize more than links to websites. Now, you can save images and videos to your Collections as you browse the web – just hover over or right-click the item on a webpage and click the add button to save it to a Collection. Coming soon, you will also be able to share your collections with others so you can collaborate and brainstorm together, whether it be planning that next vacation or remodeling your home office.

Find inspiration at a glance

With Collections, we want to help you collect, organize and share information you find across the web. We also know that a huge part of our journey on the web is discovery and inspiration. That’s why I am excited to announce that we’re starting to roll out the inspiration feed coming soon to your Collections flow. Let’s say you just finished filling your Collections with must-see places for the trip you’re planning to Paris this summer. While in your Collections window, you will not only see your folders, but you will see a feed with content related to your research, helping you get inspired and discover additional places. Cool, right?

That’s not all we’re bringing this month to help you discover new content. Visual Search from Microsoft Bing is also now available when you hover over an image. Visual Search uses advanced computer vision technology to search with images instead of text. The on-hover update allows you to easily search for similar items by hovering over an image you find online, then clicking on the Visual Search icon. For example, when you’re browsing a renovation blog, and come across a light fixture you love, hover over Visual Search to find one just like it online. This is just another way Microsoft Edge can help you stay organized, but also help you find inspiration so you can do more of what you love.

Follow and get updates about the content you love

So far, I’ve covered how you can collect, organize, share and get inspired – but that’s not all. On top of all the cool features we’ve told you about, starting this month we’re also rolling out the ability to follow your favorite content creators on websites like YouTube, Bilibili and TikTok. This will be limited to a few websites to start, and more sites will be added in the future. To start, first be sure you’re signed in with your Microsoft account and then go to the address bar and click follow. To see the sites you’ve followed, simply navigate to your Collections window on the right-hand side of your browser and click on the Follow tab to see the latest updates.


All of these upgrades to Collections will be available on the desktop version of Microsoft Edge. If you haven’t used Collections before, you can start using and enjoying the upgraded Collections now. If you have existing Collections, these updates will be rolling out to you over the next few months, so look out for an update prompt within your Collections pane. Once you click update, you’ll immediately be able to enjoy all of these great upgrades.

Thank you, as always, for reading. Please continue to send us your feedback as we work to create web experiences and tools that help you save time and get things done online, so you can do more of what you love.

[1] You can share your feedback from the browser window by going to … menu > Help and feedback > Send feedback.

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