As Microsoft releases another Windows 11 preview build for the Windows Insiders program, it typically comes with a host of bug fixes and user experience upgrades. This time round though, Microsoft has added a new feature that will hopefully make Windows 11 more environmentally friendly.
The headline new feature is that the Windows Update tool will now only schedule updates and installations during times of day when it’ll contribute in lower carbon emissions. Most cities use electrical grids powered by multiple sources such as fossil fuels and renewable energy. During peak hours when electricity usage is high, it typically results in higher fossil fuel being used as renewable sources such as solar and wind are typically limited by mother nature. By scheduling these updates when there’s more clean energy ready to use, it will presumably help lower carbon emissions.
There’s a caveat though, which is that it’s only available when your computer is plugged in, and if your country’s carbon intensity data is available in the database of ElectricityMap or WattTime, both Microsoft partners. If available, Windows 11 users will get an additional line of text saying that Windows Update is committed to helping reduce carbon emissions. Unfortunately, a check on the ElectricityMap website shows that Malaysia’s data is not on it, though our neighbours Singapore and Indonesia are. Nevertheless, it’s still a good step that Microsoft is taking, as every little counts. It’s also just another step that Microsoft has taken since making the pledge to be carbon negative by 2030 two years ago.
Another notable change coming in the new Windows 11 preview build is that there’s an improved Microsoft 365 subscription management page. In the Settings app, heading over to the Account tab lets you see more of your Microsoft 365 subscription details with the ability to update information, check the fees you’re paying and who else is sharing your Family subscription. Those without paid Microsoft 365 subscriptions meanwhile will see the free benefits they currently have as well as access Office Web Apps from there.
Other than that, there’s a new phone linking page during the Windows 11 setup wizard too. This will give you the chance to link your Android smartphone to your PC during the device setup for Windows 11. This lets you access your phone from your PC itself, and should give you access to your messages, calls and more straight from your computer. There’s an update to the ‘Open with’ pop up too, with a design tweak to make it more in line with the rest of Windows 11’s design. It does make you wonder though just how incomplete Windows 11 was when it launched last year.
As usual, this new Windows 11 preview build is only for those participating in the Windows Insiders program for now, but we should see it sometime soon in the stable release as well. For more information about the new Windows 11 Dev channel preview build, you can check out Microsoft’s Windows Insider blog post here.