With Windows 11 approaching its next full feature update (version 22H2, codenamed Sun Valley 2), users who have signed up to the Windows Insider Program are experiencing what the new version has to offer. 22H2 is the first major Windows 11 update since its launch in late 2021.
Overall, it’s a pretty neat update, with some behind-the-scenes improvements and small new features rather than a complete overhaul. We’re getting drag and drop to the taskbar, Windows Spotlight, and a new ‘Stickers’ feature that lets you place fun stamps on your desktop.
Potentially the most exciting part of the update is a revamped Windows Task Manager, adopting the fluent design system (opens in new tab) for improved user operation and a more consistent look and feel with the rest of Windows 11. It certainly looks more modern, with the old top tabs shifted to a left-hand column, like the Settings menu and File Explorer, and common tasks moved to a bar at the top.
These changes are reported to make the tool more touchscreen friendly as Windows 11 continues to expand its reach on 2-in-1 tablets and laptops. The new Task Manager also uses the new ‘Virtual Design Material’ from Microsoft called Mica, which aligns the window’s color scheme to match the desktop background. There’s also new support for Dark Mode, which is great.
The biggest change is undoubtedly the addition of a new ‘efficiency mode’ for individual processes, allowing you to limit the use of system resources by specific programs that might be consuming your CPU or memory. It’s potentially very useful for battery efficiency, giving you the ability to deprioritize resource-intensive tasks so your CPU can prioritize the processes you want.
Analysis: Should you sign up for WIP?
Well you would look into that. It’s certainly no coincidence that the acronym for the Windows Insider Program is commonly used to mean ‘work in progress’, because that’s exactly what it is. Admittedly, I’m running the Windows 11 ‘dev build’, which is notably less stable than the other builds available to Insiders, but this is a decidedly unfinished iteration of the OS.
Ultimately, the trade-off in system stability isn’t worth accessing small new additions; at least not for the average user. The new efficiency mode will be a boon for system efficiency min-maxers, but enabling Eco mode in Windows 11’s battery settings will be more than enough for most.
The Windows Insider Program isn’t for everyone, to be fair. If you’re a serious tech enthusiast or really work on software development for Windows systems, it’s a great option to stay ahead of the curve. But having loaded myself to check out the new Task Manager, I can safely say I’ll be back to my nice stable version 21H2, thanks.