Windows 11 could get big changes to one of its most important apps

Windows 11 desktop showing on a laptop
(Image credit: Microsoft)

Windows 11’s Settings app could be getting a sizeable overhaul if changes spotted in testing are anything to go by.

A bunch of tweaks for the Settings panel were posted on Twitter by a reliable source for all things Microsoft, Albacore, who discovered the various additions in the latest preview build for Windows 11 (version 25300).

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For starters, the ability to create a Virtual Hard Disk (VHD) has been seen in Settings, under Storage > Disks and Volumes, although this functionality is hidden. In other words, it’s not in testing yet, but lurking in the background, ready to go live in beta at some point (unless it gets scrapped, and the same goes for all the features highlighted here which are similarly hidden).

There’s also a Home page for the Settings app, but right now, it’s populated with next to nothing save for a notification about when Windows updates were last checked. Again, this is pre-testing, as it were, so expect it to be made much busier (and actually useful, we hope) in the future.

Albacore further pointed out Presence sensing options tucked away in the Privacy & Security menu, letting the user allow apps to employ this ability, and keeping a log of recent activity of the software which has done so. (This feature senses when the user leaves or returns to the device, and turns it off or on as appropriate, with supported hardware).

Neowin further reports that an update is coming to the Keyboard section of Settings, allowing those who use more than one keyboard language to change the order in the input language fly-out, and to choose a default language to be used at the sign-in screen right after boot-up.


Analysis: Setting up for a boat-load of changes

So, that’s quite a bit of work Microsoft has got going on underneath the hood of Windows 11. Remember, all these capabilities and rejigging of the interface are hidden away in preview builds, so even testers can’t see them (not without poking around and messing with configuration tools).

It’s a good bet that there are a fair few other such hidden bits of functionality in the Settings panel that haven’t been uncovered yet, and Microsoft could be angling to perform a pretty thorough overhaul of the app in the future, if these clues are anything to go by.

Naturally, the features in question are hidden for a good reason, and when enabled they will likely be unstable and generally wonky, if they work at all. So, these are best not used, really, serving simply as a useful indication of what Microsoft’s future plans are for Windows 11.

It’s also worth mentioning that recently, we saw another hint of a potentially incoming change in the form of a new (hidden) recovery option, namely the ability to run an in-place upgrade to repair problems with your PC directly from Settings (which would be quite a timesaver).

This Settings panel revamp is most likely to debut in the big update for Windows 11 that’ll land later this year (23H2), because we already know that work has already begun on that major upgrade (or so believable rumors suggest, anyway).

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).