And we just heard from Windows Central (Zac Bowden) that Moment 5 should arrive in February (indeed its alternative name is the ‘February 2024 Moment’).
That said, the catch is that this will be the initial preview release, late in the month, so the full version of the Moment 5 update won’t actually arrive until March. On the second Tuesday of the month if the typical release cadence of Microsoft’s cumulative updates is adhered to – which would make the date to mark in your diary March 12.
What will this update pack in the way of new features? Well, don’t get your hopes up for anything too exciting, as we’re told this will be a more minor release compared to some of the previous Moments.
Even so, there will be a healthy dollop of tweaks and additions, and one smart piece of functionality is targeted at stylus users – namely the ability to write directly into text fields with their pen (something Microsoft has promised will eventually be an OS-wide capability in Windows).
Voice Access is also receiving some laudable attention, including support for multiple monitors, and powerful new voice shortcuts. The latter are customizable commands allowing for the opening of files, folders, or pasting a section of boilerplate text, for example (and they can be chained together for multiple steps).
Microsoft is set to make a bunch of minor tweaks – some of which are useful, like giving Notepad a character count, and being able to rename devices with the Nearby Share feature, to make them more easily identifiable at a glance (‘Darren’s PC’ for example) – but some of the work elsewhere is purely about complying with European regulations.
Specifically, these changes are bound up in compliance, and destined for the European Economic Area (EEA). They include the choice to uninstall the Edge browser from Windows 11, as well as the ability to strip Bing out of the taskbar search box (and instead have web results piped through from an alternative, like Google).
Analysis: March of progress
Unfortunately, Windows 11 users outside of the EEA won’t get those latter options, but they will benefit from another move to let the user uninstall a larger number of default apps – like Photos, for example.
Furthermore, Microsoft is introducing an option to specify that the widgets panel contains just widgets, with users being able to remove the news feed. Interestingly, we’re also told that Microsoft will make it possible for other third-party services to be integrated into the panel – so you could infuse the widget board with Google news, if you wanted to.
These widget-related possibilities are coming for everyone, fortunately, not just the EEA – and we can keep our fingers crossed that the other mentioned Europe-bound changes will be rolled out more widely, too. Plenty of folks would like the ability to declutter Windows 11 a bit more by getting rid of Edge, no doubt.
Of course, we must bear in mind that these changes are all rumors, though we’ve seen all the mentioned features going through testing of late, so all of this makes sense. The release date of February (for preview) and March is the nugget of info that needs more salt applied, but Bowden is one of the more reliable sources out there for info from Microsoft. It’s always possible that an intended timeframe might slip a bit, mind.
From what we’ve heard, this could be the last Moment update before the next-gen version of Windows is launched later in 2024. Whether that will be Windows 12, or something else (Windows AI?), or if Microsoft might stick with Windows 11 (making the upgrade version 24H2), we don’t yet know, but the theory is this might be the last Moment before that next big move arrives.
As per another of Bowden’s recent rumors, Microsoft is supposedly set to switch away from Moments, releasing fewer of these updates going forward, and making more changes and feature additions in the big annual upgrade. (And yes – in short, this is returning more to the way things used to be).
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Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).