Windows 11 KB5027305 released for beta testers with a new network toggle

Windows 11 KB5027305 beta update is now available for those in the Beta Channel of the Windows Insiders Program. It doesn’t come with many new features or major changes, but there are two noteworthy tweaks – the introduction of Narrator natural voices in Chinese & Spanish and a new toggle to switch between cellular or Wi-Fi.

First, you don’t have to sign up for Windows Insiders Program to try these improvements or features. Microsoft releases updates like KB5027305 to test future updates for Windows 11 production builds, such as version 22H2 and the upcoming version 23H2, which is why you do not have to join the Insider’s program.

The flagship feature in the KB5027305 update is support for Narrator’s natural voices in Chinese & Spanish. The existing Narrator’s natural voices feature now works with Chinese and Spanish (Spain and Mexico), so you can browse the web and read/write content.

You can try out the feature by heading to Narrator Settings, looking for Narrator’s voice section, select the Add button next to Add natural voices. Finally, Choose the language and use it for Natural Voices.

Another new feature is a toggle that lets you switch between cellular and Wi-Fi when the wireless is poor but available. This feature can also be turned on via Settings. Head to Windows Settings > Network & Internet > Cellular to turn it on.

For those in the beta channel, remember that Microsoft uses enablement packages to turn on the features mentioned above, which means some of you may notice any difference between the production and beta builds. If you can access the secret enablement package, you will see build 22631 in the system settings.

The next feature update arrives in the fall

Microsoft is preparing Windows 11 23H2 update for the fall release. This would be the second big feature of the operating system, and it is not expected to change dramatically.

Still, it will introduce new features, such as a new File Explorer, taskbar ungrouping, etc.

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You can now try Windows 11’s new File Explorer in preview builds

The modernized version of File Explorer is now available to Windows 11 testers, and you can try it today by heading to Windows Insider Settings and then selecting Dev Channel after signing up for the program. The new version is designed to provide a more seamless and intuitive user experience.

File Explorer’s refresh comes with a new “Home”, which integrates Fluent Design System for a consistent, accessible, and interactive experience. A carousel of recommended files will be displayed if you’re signed into Windows 11 with an Azure Active Directory (AAD) account.

These recommended files are cloud files owned by or shared with the user, making the most relevant content readily available.WinUI, a native user experience framework for Windows applications, modernizes Quick Access folders, Favorites, and Recent in File Explorer.

The upgrade also introduces a modernized address bar and search box to File Explorer. The new address bar can intelligently distinguish between local and cloud folders, even highlighting OneDrive sync status and quota flyout for OneDrive users.

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This update is being rolled out to select insiders in the Dev Channel. Microsoft plans to gather feedback and assess user reactions before making it available.

Alongside the File Explorer redesign, Microsoft is also introducing Dynamic Lighting, providing native control of Lighting Devices by implementing the open HID LampArray standard. It aims to enhance the RGB device and software ecosystem for users by improving the interoperability of devices and apps.

The Dynamic Lighting settings page has been included, allowing users to customize their devices. Several manufacturers, including Acer, ASUS, HP, HyperX, Logitech, Razer, and Twinkly, have partnered with Microsoft on Dynamic Lighting, with several keyboards and mice from these manufacturers compatible.

Users can navigate to the new Dynamic Lighting page in Settings > Personalization > Dynamic Lighting to control and configure their HID LampArray device at both the per-device and all-device levels.

Microsoft encourages users to provide feedback on these updates via the Feedback Hub.

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Google Chrome is getting a major design refresh on Windows 11; how to enable it

Google Chrome is getting a significant design refresh called “Chrome Refresh 2023” on Windows 11, macOS and other platforms. Previously hidden via experimental flags, Chrome Refresh 2023 is now rolling out to testers in Canary via “Google Labs, ” a new way to test upcoming features.

So what exactly is Chrome Refresh 2023? Chrome is changing, says Google. However, Google developers and internal flags refer to the new design using the word “refresh” as it’s not a significant redesign of Chrome. The interface remains unchanged, so your favourite features aren’t moving to a new space.

Chrome’s refresh updates all existing design elements to align with Google’s Material design. You do not have to fear Chrome’s UI changes; the browser is still the same, and nothing changes dramatically. Google has retained the familiar interface, but you will notice larger right-click menus, more colours and a subtle dark theme.

Homepage of new Chrome | Image Courtesy:

And yes, there are rounded corners almost everywhere. Right-click anywhere in the browser, and you will notice the context menus have been refreshed with rounded corners and increased padding to support touch-screen devices.

Chrome’s visual effects are now more noticeable than ever, especially when you hover over tabs. Speaking of visual effects, the toolbar is finally getting some icons.

A new menu with icons in Chrome | Image Courtesy:

It’s pretty clear the search engine giant is looking to make the browser more colourful, so these changes, combined with Chrome’s new customization colours, should result in a more visually appealing experience.

Google officials confirmed users could test different colours, themes and settings in real time.

Profile menu to manage signed-in Google accounts | Image Courtesy:

Google is optimizing the browser for touch screens, and the address bar is now thicker. The profile menu is now more colourful too.

Chrome refresh also brings back icons to the main menu, and you will notice icons next to all options, such as a new tab, new window, new password manager, extensions, settings, and more.

How to enable Chrome 2023 design refresh

Chrome Refresh is now available via Google Labs, so you can install Chrome Canary and click the Labs icon. Finally, turn on the toggle and restart the browser to see the new look.

Chrome Labs menu

If you do not see it under Labs and still want to try these changes yourself, follow these steps:

In Chrome Canary, open chrome://flags (experimental flags menu).
Search “refresh 2023” and enable two flags – #chrome-refresh-2023 and #chrome-webui-refresh-2023. It is worth noting that chrome://flags/#chrome-webui-refresh-2023 needs to be enabled manually, even if you have access to Labs.

Enable flags to relaunch Chrome with a new look

Restart the browser.

You can now access refreshed Chrome experience if you follow the steps correctly.

Google is also experimenting with other design tweaks for Chrome’s address bar, but it’s unclear when those changes will be tested.

As for the release date, we don’t know when Google plans to roll out the changes to everyone, but it should happen in the coming months.

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Windows 11 responds to EU concerns, to allow removal of Microsoft Teams Chat from taskbar

Microsoft may let you remove “Chat”, a Microsoft Teams for consumer feature, in a future release of Windows 11. This move could be to avoid the threat of antitrust investigation by European Union regulators. The unannounced change is hidden in Windows 11 preview builds released in May, and it could begin rolling out to production soon.

Windows 11 has a Chat app, a new way to chat with friends and family via Microsoft Teams platforms. Chat was announced with much hype at Windows 11’s October 2021 event. This feature is integrated into Windows 11 Shell/taskbar and offers a user-friendly experience, allowing anyone to connect with friends and family outside of work for free.

Teams isn’t popular in the consumer space as people prefer Meta products like WhatsApp and Facebook to communicate with friends or families. Chat, which failed to gain traction in the consumer market, was part of a broader effort by Microsoft to remain relevant with consumers.

Instead of rebranding Teams, Microsoft changed the Teams app and added features for people looking to chat. The company also added “Chat” to Windows 11 taskbar, yet another effort to reposition the existing Microsoft Teams app to appeal to people looking for new ways to chat.

Microsoft Teams Chat in Windows 11 | Image Courtesy:

As you can see in the above screenshot, the Chat app is seamlessly integrated into the Windows 11 Shell/taskbar and requires an installation of Microsoft Teams from the Store. It lets you create and schedule meetings with friends or families and make group video and audio calls.

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Microsoft appears to be testing a new feature or option to remove Chat from the operating system. We have spotted references to “RemoveChat” hidden in Windows 11 preview builds rolled out in May. When activated, it completely removes the Chat app and its mention from Windows 11.

The toggle to turn off Chat is available in all versions of Windows 11

Microsoft currently allows users to remove the Chat shortcut pinned to the taskbar simply; the ‘RemoveChat’ seems to go a step further.

This seems to be an attempt to avoid potential antitrust scrutiny from the European Union regulators and may soon be implemented in the production version.

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Interestingly, ‘RemoveChat’ is linked to some geographical API, confirming our speculation that Microsoft may remove the feature by default or permit users to do so in certain regions (Europe?).

Our speculation finds additional confirmation in a previous Financial Times report which suggested that Microsoft might stop bundling Teams with Office software to stave off the EU investigation.

For those unaware, companies like Slack, a direct competitor to Microsoft Teams, have voiced concerns and protested against Microsoft’s alleged anti-competitive practices. Slack alleged that Teams being bundled with several Microsoft products provides a competitive edge to Microsoft’s offering.

Reports have previously suggested Microsoft may unbundle Teams from Microsoft 365 or Office 365 for businesses, and it looks like Windows 11 is next.

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