Microsoft has started rolling out its fourth feature drop, Moment 4, for Windows 11 version 23H2. This update introduces around 150 new features and enhancements to the operating system.
The Moment 4 update is being delivered in two parts - first as an optional cumulative update containing bug fixes, and second as a feature update for those who have enabled receiving feature updates in Windows Update.
Key Highlights of the Moment 4 Update
Here are some of the most notable new features and changes that Moment 4 brings to Windows 11:
Search Highlights Restored
The Bing chat button in the taskbar search box has been replaced with the Search Highlights feature. This allows you to easily access recent documents, frequent folders, and other useful information directly from the search box. The return of this feature will be welcomed by many users.
Websites in Start Recommended Section
For those who have the 'Recommended' section enabled in Start, Moment 4 will now populate it with website shortcuts personalized based on your browsing history. The aim is to surface relevant sites and web content.
Windows Co-Pilot Preview
A new Windows Copilot icon next to the search box provides a preview of centralized AR assistance features. This is essentially a web-based container similar to Bing chat that allows you to ask Copilot to perform basic tasks like taking screenshots, adjusting system settings like dark mode, and more. Copilot is still in early preview but shows Microsoft's ambitions for AI assistance.
Enhanced File Explorer
The File Explorer sees several upgrades in Moment 4, including a refreshed home page powered by OneDrive that recognizes local and cloud folders. The toolbar and address bar have swapped positions, and the new details pane provides additional file information. Support has also been added for viewing and extracting more archive file types.
Gallery View and Timeline in File Explorer
Additionally, File Explorer gains a new Gallery view that displays your OneDrive photos and videos, similar to the Photos app. An integrated timeline view also allows easy access to your files based on when they were edited or accessed. These changes really modernize File Explorer and make it more user-friendly.
New Volume Mixer Quick Settings
The updated audio volume flyout now launches an enhanced volume mixer that lets you control the volume of individual apps and system sounds. This brings a much requested feature to the Quick Settings panel.
Uncombined Taskbar Buttons
Moment 4 finally adds a 'Never Combine' taskbar button option, so app titles and windows can be displayed individually instead of grouped together. Many users will appreciate this customization option.
Hide Time and Date in System Tray
You can now toggle the clock and calendar visible in the system tray on or off. This allows removing them to declutter the taskbar.
Windows Backup App
The Windows Backup app from Windows 10 makes its way to Windows 11, providing a simple way to backup your files, settings, and more before migrating to a new PC.
Improved Windows Spotlight Experience
The Spotlight image rotation feature has also been improved with full-screen image previews, details about each image, and more. Additionally, Moment 4 fixes the Spotlight feature which has been broken in recent builds.
New Narrator Voices
Narrator, the screen reading accessibility feature, gains new natural sounding voices for several languages - Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, Portuguese, English (UK and India), French and German.
New Developer Features
For developers, Moment 4 adds a new Developer section in Settings providing tools like the new Dev Disk feature for hosting source code. The DevDisk uses a virtual hard disk format optimized for common developer tasks.
Dynamic Lighting for RGB Peripherals
Devices like keyboards, mice and PC cases with RGB lighting effects compatible with the Open RGB standard can now be controlled through Windows 11's new Dynamic Lighting feature. This integrates third-party RGB control into the OS.
Overall, Moment 4 provides a wide array of new features, both big and small, that improve the usability and customization of Windows 11. Key highlights like the refreshed File Explorer, Never Combine taskbar option, and Dynamic Lighting integration will likely appeal most to average users. But the update also caters to specialized audiences like developers with the new dev tools.
While not as sweeping as the original Sun Valley 2 feature release, Moment 4 continues Microsoft's steady cadence of rolling out interface refinements, new customization options, and productivity enhancements to Windows 11. And we can likely expect more features and updates to drop in future Moments.
With Moment 4, Microsoft appears to be responding to user feedback by restoring some beloved but removed features like Search Highlights. The company is also working to modernize core elements like File Explorer that have remained stagnant for years. And new functionality like the copilot preview and Dynamic Lighting show Microsoft's ambitions to integrate AI and extend the OS's capabilities.
But the incremental nature of the Moments format does mean major redesigns or overhauls aren't likely. So Moment 4 brings only gradual, incremental improvements rather than sweeping changes.
Overall though, the update appears to deliver meaningful improvements to the Windows 11 experience. And Microsoft is clearly invested in steadily improving Windows 11 over time based on real user feedback, not just their own internal vision. So consumers, business users, and developers alike should find value in this latest feature drop.