The latest preview build for Windows 11 shows off a new Settings homepage, complete with fresh backup capabilities for the OS.
This is build 22631 in the Beta channel, and the Settings homepage is a major move that’s been in the works for a while (it was previously seen in earlier test channels).
The homepage shows some status details along the top – the name of the PC, internet connection status, and when Windows Update last checked for updates – and a bunch of panels with various bits of info underneath.
Those panels (Microsoft calls them ‘cards’) include cloud storage details (OneDrive) – and how full it is – and a personalization panel that offers the ability to quickly change the Windows theme or color mode.
Another important card offers up recommended settings, providing access to recently used settings, or ones that you use a lot based on your past history of tweaking Windows 11.
Microsoft has also implemented panels for Xbox (with details like your Game Pass subscription, if you have one), and a card for Bluetooth devices to give you quick access to all the peripherals you might hook up wirelessly with.
The other big introduction here is a revamped backup system for restoring your Windows 11 environment to a new PC (or your existing one, should the OS somehow crash and burn irrevocably).
The Windows Backup app is on hand for beta testers to back up their PC. When restoring Windows 11, the app will pull in all your settings and customization, as well as your pins on the taskbar and Start menu, and Microsoft Store apps. (Third-party apps from elsewhere will still get their pins kept on, but you’ll be directed to download the relevant installer from the web when you first fire them up).
Elsewhere in build 22631, there’s been a change to Dynamic Lighting whereby the Windows 11 accent color can be synced with your RGB peripherals, a neat little touch.
As expected, there are a bunch of bug fixes and other minor features, all of which are summarized in Microsoft’s blog post about the preview build.
Analysis: Time is of the essence
The theme here is timesaving. The new Settings homepage lets you easily adjust customization elements, and change commonly used settings in a single click, all in one place (rather than having to hunt in different Settings submenus, and let’s face it, these can be a bit of a maze to navigate at times, perhaps requiring Googling to find things).
Another major timesaver is the ability to have all your bits and pieces where you left them when restoring your PC from the Backup app. Having to redo all your customization and pinned elements is a real drag – a potentially lengthy process, and you may even forget stuff – so this is very helpful.
With these features progressing to the Beta channel, they’re coming close to arrival now. The next step is the Release Preview channel, and from there, it’s a short hop to what’ll surely be inclusion in the Windows 11 23H2 update due later this year.