December 2, 2023

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Microsoft Finally Unlocks Tabbed Explorer Windows, Other New Features for Windows 11

2 min read
Microsoft Finally Unlocks Tabbed Explorer Windows, Other New Features for Windows 11

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You might have noticed a few things were missing in the recent Windows 11 2022 Update, previously known as 22H2. Microsoft held back a few features that weren’t ready, including the long-awaited tabbed Explorer. Now, that and a few other delayed features are available in Windows 11. However, you’ll have to manually install what Microsoft says is a preview release.

This feature drop is the first example of Microsoft’s new “continuous innovation” approach to updating Windows. That’s why the recent update changed from 22H2 to simply the 2022 update. Now, Microsoft intends to release new features for Windows 11 as they’re ready, rather than packaging them up in discreet, bulky updates.

Microsoft initially announced most of the newly released features as part of the 2022 Update, but it clarified as the release approached that they’d only come to the bulk of users with a future update. That update is now available, but you’ll have to go into your Windows settings to install it manually. The preview update is labeled as KB5019509, and it will require a system restart to finish installing. However, it’s a much faster process than the main 2022 update that rolled out a few weeks ago.

After installing the update, you’ll immediately notice the addition of tabs to Windows Explorer. Like a browser, you can now click the “plus” button to add more tabs or right-click on folders in Explorer to open them in new tabs. This could really help reduce the window clutter when managing files.

The Taskbar overflow feature promised earlier this year is also part of the preview update. No more will your Taskbar simply run out of space for icons, and right-clicking will offer a shortcut to the Task Manager, which was the way it worked in past versions of Windows. However, I don’t see the Task Manager shortcut after installing the update — Microsoft says some of the new features will be made available via “phased rollout.” It’s the same for Suggested Actions, which are supposed to offer contextual options when you highlight text. For example, adding a calendar event when you highlight a date. But, this is still technically a preview update.

Microsoft says the full suite of new features will be made available for everyone as part of the November 2022 security update. As a security update, this one will install itself without a trip into the system settings.

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