Windows 11 Insider build 22518 brings new Voice Access experience and more

Microsoft has just released the Windows 11 preview build 22518 for Insiders in the Dev Channel. This release includes several new features including Spotlight collection backgrounds, an updated entry point for Widgets with weather, and the ability to install Windows Subsystem for Linux from the Microsoft Store.

However, the big new feature in this build is Voice access, a new experience allowing people with mobility disabilities to control their PC and author text with their voice. “Voice access supports scenarios like opening and switching between apps, browsing the web, and reading and authoring mail,” the Windows Insider team explained today.

The voice access interactive guide.

Voice Access is currently US-only, and it’s accessible in Settings > Accessibility > Speech. Before getting started, Insiders will need to download a speech model for the on-device speech recognition, and there’s also an interactive guide explaining how to complete common tasks with your voice. The full blog post includes a long list of supported voice commands, and we invite you to check it for more details.

The other notable changes in this build include Spotlight Collection, which can automatically provide you with new desktop wallpapers every day. To turn it on, you’ll need to right-click on your desktop and choose “Personalize,” then go to “Background,” and choose “Spotlight Collection.” You’ll then be able to right-click on the Spotlight icon on your desktop to switch between pictures.

Right-click on the Spotlight icon on your desktop to switch to between Spotlight pictures or tell us whether you like or dislike a picture.

Spotlight Collection is currently only available for Insiders in Australia, Canada, China, Finland, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Korea, Norway, Spain, Sweden, U.K., and the U.S, and Microsoft plans to add more countries over time. This is a nice feature to keep your desktop fresh every day, and you can count on Microsoft to provide some beautiful pictures from around the world.

Another notable change in today’s build 22518 is a new Widget shortcut placed on the left side of your the Windows 11 taskbar with live weather content. This change will be rolling out gradually to Insiders, and those who prefer a left-aligned taskbar will see the Widgets entry point on the right of the Task view icon.

We’re trying out showing the Widgets entry point, with weather, on the left side of the taskbar.

Today’s build 22518 also makes it possible to install the Windows Subsystem for Linux from the Microsoft Store, which will make it easier to get the latest WSL updates going forward. All Insiders who install this build will also be able to see the clock and date on the taskbars of secondary monitors, a change that Microsoft first introduced for select Insiders in the build 22509.

You can learn more about the rest of the changes, bug fixes, and known issues in the build 22518 below:

Changes and Improvements

  • Starting with today’s build we’re rolling out an underlying platform change to improve the overall performance and reliability of the input switcher for Insiders using multiple keyboard languages and layouts. In addition to this, we’re updating the input switcher to now have an acrylic background. If you have any feedback for the input switcher, please file it in the Feedback Hub under Input and Language > Keyboard and language switching. [We are beginning to roll this change out, so it isn’t available to all Insiders just yet as we plan to monitor feedback and see how it lands before pushing it out to everyone.]
Input switcher UI with acrylic background.
Input switcher UI with acrylic background.
  • Updated the context menu in File Explorer to make these options top level based on feedback:
    • “Install” when right clicking on font files and .inf files.
    • “Install certificate” when right clicking on .cer files.
    • “Map network drive” and “Disconnect network drive” when right clicking on This PC.
    • “Disconnect” when right clicking on network drives.
  • The ability for personalized combinations of emoji based on face and skin tones of family members, couples with heart, kissing, and people holding hands which we began rolling out with Build 22504 is now available to all Insiders in the Dev Channel.
  • Starting with Build 22509, we began rolling out a change to display your clock and date will now also be displayed on the taskbars of the secondary monitor or monitors. This is now available to all Insiders in the Dev Channel.
  • We’ve added a new extra-large candidate height option for Simplified Chinese IME users under Personalization > Text Input in Settings.

Fixes

[Taskbar]

  • Fixed an explorer.exe crash related to having websites pinned to the Taskbar.

[Search]

  • Did some work to help address an issue where an invisible window frame for the recent searches flyout could end up stuck on the screen, consuming input in that area.
  • When you’re hovering over items in the recent searches flyout, truncated text in the flyout (for example, when using the accessibility setting to make text larger) will now have a tooltip so you can see the full text.
  • Improved visibility of the text in the recent searches flyout if a contrast mode was enabled.
  • The recent searches flyout now has an accessible name when a screen reader sets focus to it, instead of just saying button.
  • Fixed an issue which was causing the search icon in the recent searches icon to become a garbage character for people using the Chinese display language.
  • Fixed a high hitting Search crash.
  • Did some work to help reduce the likelihood of keystrokes getting dropped if you start your search by pressing the Windows key and start typing.
  • If you use Search to run commands, the “Run as administrator” and “Open file location” options should be visible again for you to select on the side of the search window. In addition, CTRL + Shift + Enter should work again now for commands.

[File Explorer]

  • Mitigated an issue that could lead to not being able to add network drives as a source in Media Player.
  • Fixed an issue that could lead to seeing an unexpected blank icon after compressing a file, instead of the one corresponding to your default app for handling that file type.
  • Right clicking on a folder and then quickly closing and reopening the File Explorer window should no longer lead to an explorer.exe crash when the “run as a separate process” option is enabled.
  • Removed some unexpected characters in the dialog when moving user account folders to another location.
  • If you right click on files like .htm in File Explorer, the icon next to Microsoft Edge Canary, Beta or Dev should now display correctly (if installed) under Open With, instead of showing a generic icon.
  • Addressed an issue that could lead to icons for app entries (like Windows Terminal) in the context menu going missing / being invisible sometimes.
  • Improved the consistency of the background color of the command bar and menu dropdowns when a contrast mode was enabled.
  • Made some more little improvements to help with File Explorer folder navigation performance.

[Input]

  • If you’ve pressed WIN + Period and have navigated to the emoji or gifs section with a search term, when you go back to the main page, we will now clear out the search query so you can start fresh.
  • The IME candidate window should now appear more reliably when typing into Search immediately after booting your PC.
  • Fixed an issue where u-mode/v-mode/name-mode wasn’t not showing candidates when typing with the Simplified Chinese IME.
  • Fixed an issue where the Japanese IME was unexpectedly displaying candidates in horizontal mode instead of vertical mode.
  • Fixed an issue where the IME toolbar might randomly show on the lock screen.
  • Addressed an issue where the keyboard focus wouldn’t always be in the right place after pressing WIN + Period, depending on where you’d left focus the last time the window was used.
  • When personalizing your family emoji in the emoji panel, the UI should no longer unexpectedly dismiss when you click the white space.
  • Clicking on your personalized family emoji in the most recently used list in the emoji panel should no longer unexpectedly invoke the customization UI.
  • If you try to start voice typing (WIN + H) without setting focus to a text box first, the popup suggesting you move focus should work again now.

[Windowing]

  • Fixed issue where snap group thumbnails weren’t updating in real time in Task View after you moved a group window to a different Desktop.

[Settings]

  • Fixed an issue that was causing Settings to crash when going to open options for added languages for some Insiders.
  • Fixed a few issues on the Text Input page under Personalization, including:
    • The preview image for your current set up should be showing now.
    • Added a few keywords to help search for this page.
    • Improved read out of the page for screen reader users.
  • Searching for the word widgets should return to the corresponding Settings page with that toggle now.

[Other]

  • Mitigated an issue believed to be causing Insiders with certain devices to be experiencing bug checks with the error SYSTEM_SERVICE_EXCEPTION in recent flights.
  • Fixed an issue where users updating from Builds 22000.xxx, or earlier, to newer Dev Channel builds using the latest Dev Channel ISO would receive the following warning message: The build you are trying to install is Flight Signed. To continue installing, enable flight signing.
  • Removed some excess padding on the left of the boot logo, which was causing it to look off-center compared to the progress wheel.
  • Addressed an issue where UAC was unexpectedly showing “Unknown program” when trying to elevate certain programs, despite them having proper names.
  • Fixed an issue leading to Narrator unexpectedly saying “No item in view” sometimes when tabbing to win32 text boxes.
  • Fixed a crash that was leading to login issues in OOBE (if you were to reset your PC), and well as issues resetting your PIN from the lock screen in the last 2 flights.
  • Fixed an issue leading to acrylic unexpectedly not working in certain places in the preview flight.
  • Mitigated an issue leading to some people unexpectedly seeing “Something went wrong” when trying to click the “stop recording” button when recording a message in Voice Recorder.

NOTE: Some fixes noted here in Insider Preview builds from the active development branch may make their way into the servicing updates for the released version of Windows 11 that became generally available on October 5th.

Known issues

[General]

  • We’re investigating reports from Insiders that DWM is crashing (causing the screen to flash repeatedly) when trying to use certain apps.

[Start]

  • In some cases, you might be unable to enter text when using Search from Start or the taskbar. If you experience the issue, press WIN + R on the keyboard to launch the Run dialog box, then close it.

[Taskbar]

  • The taskbar will sometimes flicker when switching input methods.
  • The network icon sometimes goes missing in the taskbar when it’s supposed to be there. If you encounter this, please try using Task Manager to restart explorer.exe.
  • If you have multiple monitors connected to your PC and right-click on the date and time on the taskbar on your primary monitor, it will crash explorer.exe

[Search]

  • After clicking the Search icon on the Taskbar, the Search panel may not open. If this occurs, restart the “Windows Explorer” process, and open the search panel again.

[Settings]

  • When viewing the list of available Wi-Fi networks, the signal strength indicators do not reflect the correct signal strength.

[Widgets]

  • Changing the taskbar alignment can cause the Widgets button to disappear from taskbar.
  • Widgets board may not have the correct resolution when hovering the entry point on a secondary monitor.
  • The Widgets board may be temporarily blank.
  • Links may not open properly when opening the widgets board using hover.
  • When having multiple monitors, Widgets content on taskbar may get out of sync between monitors.

[Voice access]

  • Voice access is not yet fully compatible with screen readers like Narrator, and you may experience gaps or unexpected behavior running these together.
  • Some text authoring commands, e.g., “select that” or “delete that”, may not work as expected across Windows applications.
  • You cannot use the command “press Windows L” to lock your PC via voice.
  • Recognition of some punctuation marks and symbols such as @ sign is not accurate.

Please note that today's Windows 11 build 22518 won't be offered to ARM64 PCs due to an issue that causes these devices to rollback when attempting to update to this build, but Microsoft is already working on a fix. In case you missed it yesterday, all Insiders in the Dev Channel can also try the redesigned Notepad app, which now comes with a cool dark theme.

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