Windows 11 PC is getting a ton of updates, including live captions, gaming upgrades

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Your Windows 11 PC is about to get major updates. Microsoft (MSFT) on Tuesday debuted a slew of changes for the company’s all-important software including security upgrades, improved accessibility, and upgrades for gamers.

Microsoft aims to beef up Windows 11, making it more appealing to consumers, businesses, and creatives. The update also helps the company ensure that the world’s most used desktop operating system stays on top of competitors like Apple’s (AAPL) MacOS and Google’s (GOOG, GOOGL) ChromeOS.

That’s not to say Microsoft will lose its crown anytime soon. The company’s Windows operating system controls 75% of global market share for desktop systems, according to StatCounter. MacOS has just 14%, and ChromeOS has roughly 2%.

The most impressive updates for Windows 11 are improved accessibility features across the operating system. Microsoft, and its fellow tech giants, have been adding accessibility upgrades to their software for years, ensuring that users who are hard of hearing or visually impaired can take advantage of their products.

Windows 11 is getting system-wide live captioning to users who are deaf and hard of hearing. (Image: Microsoft)

Windows 11 is getting system-wide live captioning to users who are deaf and hard of hearing. (Image: Microsoft)

With Windows 11, Microsoft is bringing system-wide live captioning to the operating system. That means that users who are deaf or hard of hearing can see what’s being said in meetings, movies, or other apps.

Microsoft says the software takes care of captions on your device, so you don’t need an internet connection to display text. That text will also be displayed at the top of the screen, so users can read it while participating in remote meetings — allowing them to see both the text and participants’ faces.

In addition to live captioning, Windows 11 also gets improved voice-controls. Users who have difficulty using a mouse and keyboard can now navigate the operating system, browse the web, open specific apps, and type in apps using just their voice.

The company has also added more natural-sounding voice narrators for text readers to ensure that people who are visually impaired can listen to articles or websites. Microsoft says its prior voice apps were lacking in terms of general appeal, so it’s worked to make them more pleasing to listen to.

Security is also getting an update in Windows 11 via Microsoft’s new Smart App Control. The feature is designed to block apps from running on your computer that Microsoft’s software determines are likely malware.

The company says Smart App Control does this via its own AI models powered by some 43 trillion security signals it receives. The idea is that by looking at the huge number of potential threats out there, Microsoft Smart App Control can predict whether the app you’re downloading will try to crash your system and steal your data.

Microsoft's Smart App Control will automatically stop certain apps from running on your machine if they're likely malicious. (Image: Microsoft)

Microsoft’s Smart App Control will automatically stop certain apps from running on your machine if they’re likely malicious. (Image: Microsoft)

Gaming is also getting a boost with the latest Windows 11 update thanks to a new Controller Bar that takes the place of the Xbox Game Bar. The option will make it easier for you to access your most recently played games or game launchers via your Xbox or other compatible controller.

Windows games also get improved graphics in Windows 11, and a new HDR calibration app will make it so gamers can change their display settings to get the most accurate colors. Then there are the improvements to Microsoft’s Edge browser that promise to make cloud gaming via the app crisper than before.

As for those Android apps, Microsoft says it’s now expanding the Amazon (AMZN) Appstore, which runs Android apps, to 31 countries including Australia, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. The feature is already available in the U.S. and Japan.

Finally, Windows 11 is receiving some overall functionality improvements including tabs in the Explorer app, and updated Start menu and search capabilities.

Windows 11 is one of Microsoft’s biggest products. The software falls under the company’s More Personal Computing business segment, which brought in $14.4 billion, or 27.7%, of its total $51.9 billion in revenue in fiscal Q4 2022.

Unfortunately for Microsoft, PC sales are slowing following the explosive growth brought on by the pandemic. Gartner projects that PC shipments will fall 9.5% this year, with consumer demand dropping 13.1%. That, in turn, could hit Microsoft’s bottom line, as fewer consumers and businesses scoop up new systems.

Despite that, there’s little doubt Windows will continue to stand as the world’s go-to desktop OS for the foreseeable future.

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