Windows 11 has a new preview build, this time in the Release Preview channel, which introduces a whole bunch of changes – both good and bad.
Most of this stuff has already been seen in earlier test builds (Canary, Dev, or Beta channels), and Windows 11 build 22621.1926 (KB5027303) represents all these features progressing towards release.
Now that they’re in Release Preview, this is the final step before these various features turn up in the full version of Windows 11 at some point in the near(ish) future.
So, let’s get the bad news out of the way first, namely that Microsoft has announced in the blog post for this preview build that adverts (which the company calls ‘badging’ – we’ll come back to that) on the Start menu are moving towards a broader rollout.
Microsoft explains: “This update expands the roll out of notification badging for Microsoft accounts on the Start menu. A Microsoft account is what connects Windows to your Microsoft apps. The account backs up all your data and helps you to manage your subscriptions.”
The company adds: “This feature gives you quick access to important account-related notifications.”
With that out of the way, the better news that caught our eye for gamers is that improved mouse performance is on the way.
Microsoft tells us that when using a mouse with a high polling rate – so any of the contenders for best gaming mouse in other words, designed for accurate and precise mousing – you’ll now get better performance. This is thanks to any stuttering being reduced for these kinds of mice, so that’s a big thumbs-up there.
Another interesting point to note with this preview build is a broad assertion that: “This update affects the reliability of Windows. It improves after you update the OS.”
Anything that ushers in better stability must be a good thing too, naturally.
Analysis: an ominous sign
It’s great to see the improvement for high polling rate gaming mice, which will help not just for shooters – where you might typically think accuracy is crucial, and of course, it is – but also for, say, real-time strategy games.
The ability to smoothly mouse around and quickly and precisely select units, for example, can’t be underestimated. Whatever game you play, smoother and more accurate mouse movement is a major plus point.
What’s bugging us here is the continued push with badging in the Start menu. Badging is a term Microsoft employs which basically translates to light-touch advertising. Yes, the company might argue these are simply nudges to help you sort out various elements of your computing life related to Windows, but really, they’re thinly veiled ads to use Microsoft products and services.
In this case, the cajoling is to push you towards signing up for a Microsoft Account, with Windows 11 telling you about the security (and other) benefits of doing so in these notifications which appear in the Start menu.
The expanded rollout of this badging previously happened in the Dev channel, but the fact that it has carried forward to the final preview stage before the release version of Windows 11 is rather ominous.
This further progression of the rollout in testing suggests that this is something Microsoft is determined to forge ahead with. If that does indeed play out, we can only hope that Microsoft gives users an option to disable this kind of ‘help’ feature (but we aren’t holding our breath on that score).