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Microsoft Launcher gets big beta update with new features and tweaks

Microsoft has started rolling out another big update to its Android launcher, bringing a number of new features for beta testers to check out. Ticking the app up to version 4.4, the update adds the ability to create folders within the app drawer, multiple item selections on the home screen, and a few other notable improvements.

Here's a look at all of what's new in Microsoft Launcher beta version 4.4:

  • Enable creating folders in app drawer;
  • Batch mode of apps on home screen and app drawer - long press menu;
  • Enable/disable dock;
  • Open app animation;
  • Pill count improvements on Line, BBM, Instagram, Yammer, Textra, WhatsApp and more;
  • Weather / Time widget refinement to mitigate weather refresh issue

While no single feature may stand out for everyone, the combination makes this a pretty big update for anyone looking for more customization features at their fingertips. The ability to create folders in the app drawer alone comes as a welcome addition.

Microsoft Launcher delivers a beautiful Android experience

If you're enrolled as a Microsoft Launcher beta tester, you can pick up this update now on the Play Store (opens in new tab). And if you aren't yet a beta tester, anyone can sign up to become one (opens in new tab). These features will presumably make their way to the release version of the app before too long.

See at Google Play (opens in new tab)

Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the Editor in Chief for Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl. Got a hot tip? Send it to daniel.thorp-lancaster@futurenet.com.

36 Comments
  • I don't give two ***** about Microsoft apps on Android.
  • But you care enough to comment. I run across countless articles on a daily basis that don't interest me. I just move on to something else. I've never once felt the need to announce my lack of interest.
  • Now,,, if he's not a troll, then NOBODY HERE knows what one is.
  • Wish they were like this serious with their own!
  • Microsoft's platform was too locked down for these type of features, it seemed hard for even Microsoft to develop. Imagine if Windows phones allowed third parties to create software like this. It might not have flopped.
  • Hasn't hurt Apple. If anything, Windows' launcher was a selling point. I don't see how allowing alternate launchers would have helped anything.
  • Apple isn't selling to third party manufacturers.
  • It wouldnt have mattered. Even if they could have made apps like this, no one would have bothered because it was Windows Phone. That was the whole problem. It was just ignored as a platform. 
  • It was ignored because it was ignorable. You are a developer in 2011, which is more exciting? Locked down, can't do anything WP or totally open, create anything you want Android? You are Samsung in 2010. Are you going to choose a platform 100% controlled by Microsoft with no flexibility at all or Android that lets you do almost anything. You can use any hardware and develop any features as long as you bundled some Google apps. The issue with Windows Phone is obvious now. Hindsight is 20/20.
  • You are right
  • Microsoft's launcher was superb in wp 8x. All they needed to do was let third parties replace apps as defaults (which they partly did, but never fully). I'm digging my Android device, but lacking live tiles and deep linking sucks.
  • I liked my 8x too. There are a few launchers for Android that mimick the Windows Phone stile of tiles, but none that I've tried quite do the job for me. Fun to play with, but I always end up going back to a conventional Android launcher. Right now I'm using Microsoft's launcher and I'm happy with it. What does "Pill count improvements" mean?
  • I'm trying the SquareHome 2 launcher and I decided to purchase the "key" to unlock some as-yet-unneeded features. The live tiles for photos, calendar, and widget for CNN or NY Times are great. The Messages and Outlook tiles have numbers that indicate how many emails or messages you have. I think the Phone tile can show a pic of the caller, if you have that in your Contacts list. I don't use Facebook, so I can't tell you about its Tile. Launcher 10 is also quite good, but I decided to support SquareHome at this time. I'm using a Pixel 2, Android 8.1
  • I am using "Nova Launcher" for years and also the "Sesame Shortcuts" plugin. I think Microsoft's Launcher is really getting better from update to update, but still lacking lots of features that Nova + Sesame offer, which is why I can't get myself to switch to the Microsoft Launcher.
  • Its close between the 2 Launchers as far as functionality lately (Nova is more aesthetically adjustable) but the main 2 things I prefer with the MS Launcher are the double layer of apps in the dock (as opposed to Novas left/right swiping for additional docks) & that I can still use the full page Snote widget (individual notes being full screen on home pages). The main thing MS Launcher was missing IMO was being able to have App Folders in the actual App Drawer (that way not a single one of my home screens has to look like an iPhone screen full of icons)
  • Yeah, I love the dock in this launcher. Really, the only thing I don't like about it is the lack of scrollable wallpaper support.
  • Having app folders in the app drawer was something you could do in ver 4.3. I know because I had it. What interested me the most in this beta version 4.4 is the ability to disable the dock. I'm using an S8+ with the navigation buttons that you can swipe up for them to appear. This makes the dock really clumsy to use because when the nav buttons appear, they cover 90% of the dock icons. The only way I could solve this was to make the nav buttons permanent on the screen or disable the dock. I chose the latter and simply put my docked app icons at the bottom of the screen. I only have two pages on my screen anyway, so not having permanent app icons at the bottom isn't really that annoying. Looking forward to when ms implements the option to change dock height or just simply to respect the space for nav keys like Samsung's launcher does.
  • So, what is "Dock" and what is a "Pill count"? 
  • the dock is the bottom row of icons that stays in the same place regardless of you flipping pages from the main icon screen.  I'm not sure what they mean by pill count (even though i switched to android a few weeks ago) but they might be referring to the notification badges on the icons.  Basically the new message (etc) counter like win phone has for email, text app, etc.
  • Normally this is the little number that shows up on the icon showing how many unread messages you have. Often they are kind'a oval white, resembling a pill.
  • This app has received more new features in one month than my 950 has in one year. Lol
  • Cool. The weather bug was annoying me.
  • What they need is the people app and a dialer(My contacts from didnt migrate), i just switched last week from windows to android, and the only thing i'm happy with so far is android pay allows me to use the NFC funtion on my phone (tap and pay), i waited 2 years with my 950 for an app to use the NFC fuction but nothing ever came.
  • After been on windows phone for such a long time i thought switching over to Android would be a pain. Only been three weeks But it is far from being a pain to my suprise its a delight its actualy better. The only two microsoft apps i use are the launcher and onedrive. but will transfer everything over to G drive soon . I must admit Live tiles were cool other than that I dont mis WP
  • I thought the same thing.  However, over the years, WM10 became much closer to resembling Android anyways.  So, the change isn't nearly as drastic as it used to be.
  • I am also seeing an "Add App" button inside any app folder. It wasn't there before the update.
  • Does anyone else never get notification badges on their apps for some reason? Curious if it's related to launcher or Android OS.
  • Its the launcher. I was not getting notification badges on the phone app icon. I thought it was an Android issue but as soon as I uninstalled the launcher, I had them. The launcher is a great idea but still has a ways to go before you can rely on it or even imagine it as a viable replacement for Windows Phone. 
  • What I'm looking for in Microsoft Launcher is live tiles and deep linking support for functions and folders inside of Microsoft first party apps. Bring it!
  • I agree with Jasongw....i would love to see live tiles...  
  • Not me!! What I'd like to see is the next generation Windows Phone (Andromeda??) with a split, foldable Screen, running CShell, capable of sending the Screen to a TV with a flick of the wrists! Naturally, Live Tiles, the sliky-fluid TouchScreen, Camera with OIS and great low-light pic-taking ability, and the ease of using WinPhone 10 being preserved, enhanced further! I wouldn't want a paltry subset of all that on any blooming Android or any bloated-priced iOS device, No SIr! :P :D
  • I wish Microsoft Windows team put this much effort into Windows 10. UWP apps still lack so much and ton of useful features from Windows 8 start menu still missing.
  • I hate the new 'Add Apps' button that appears when you open the folders. I hope they take a better approach to it in future.
  • Rather promote Windows Phones and platforms and not android or Iphone
  • What Windows phones would you like to see promoted?
  • When the Microsoft Launcher prevented the phone app from showing missed call counter on the icon, I immediately uninstalled it.