Microsoft promotes Windows 11 version 22H2 to the Beta Channel with build 22581

Windows 11 Update Windowsupdate Estimate New Light
Windows 11 Update Windowsupdate Estimate New Light (Image credit: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Build 22581 is now available in the Dev Channel.
  • It's also the first version 22H2 build to arrive in the Beta Channel.
  • Not much is new with the build, specifically outside of bug fixes and under the hood improvements.

Microsoft is rolling out another Windows 11 preview build of version 22H2 for Insiders in the Dev Channel, and for the first time in the Beta Channel as well. This marks the beginning of the "window" that allows Insiders in the Dev Channel to switch over to the Beta Channel if they don't want to continue testing experimental Windows 11 features when Microsoft moves on to the next major update cycle in the coming weeks.

With build 22581 heading to the Beta Channel, Microsoft is signaling that development on this next release of Windows 11 is entering its final stages. My sources say that version 22H2 is scheduled to reach its "final build" milestone sometime in May. That leaves just a couple of months of mainline development before Microsoft switches to servicing this release with cumulative updates before shipping it to the public later this fall.

On the flipside, if you're already in the Beta Channel and not ready to start testing the next release of Windows 11, you should switch to the Release Preview channel immediately to avoid being automatically upgraded.

Wip 3 Finger Downup Minimizerestore

Source: Microsoft (Image credit: Source: Microsoft)

Top billing for version 22H2 so far includes huge improvements for tablet users, such as a new minimized Taskbar interface, new gestures for opening Start and Quick Settings, etc. Elsewhere, we have a new System Tray with consistent highlight effects, more settings in the Settings app, general UI consistency updates, a new Task Manager, and much more.

Microsoft is expected to talk more about this upcoming release of Windows 11 at its April 5th event titled, "Windows Powers the Future of Hybrid Work", where Chief Product Officer Panos Panay is set to take center stage.

How to switch from Beta to Release Preview Channel on Windows 11

For build 22581 specifically, not much is new over the last build. Top billing for this release is general fixes and improvements, though some of the features that went into testing a few weeks ago are now available to all testers in the Dev Channel.

Here's the changelog:

  • As described in our blog post here, Windows Insiders who use the Dev Channel may get to tryout new ideas, longer lead features, and experiences that may never get released. In this build, a limited set of Insiders will see the first of these experimental features as we explore additional ways to help people discover and get quick access to content they care about on the web with the Windows search box. If you see some of these concepts, be sure to let us know what you think via Feedback Hub (Win + F) and choose category Desktop Environment > Search.
  • The tablet-optimized taskbar feature which began rolling out with Build 22563 is now available to all Windows Insiders in the Dev and Beta Channels. As a reminder, this feature only works on devices that can be used as tablets. It does not work on laptops or desktop PCs.
  • Several fixes to taskbar such as the top border line now extending across the entire taskbar will be seen for everyone regardless of device type.
  • Keyboard focus and mouse hover for Win32 system tray icons and the "Show hidden icons" flyout have been updated to match the rest of the visual style of the taskbar. You may also notice that drag-and-drop is no longer supported to pin/unpin these items — you can show/hide these icons using by right clicking on the taskbar and choosing "Taskbar settings". We also introduced an optional setting to hide the "show hidden icons" button completely, supporting users who want a simpler taskbar.
  • Made a fix for another issue causing taskbar previews to use the wrong fonts for the window title in languages other than English.
  • Drag and drop to taskbar should now work with auto-hidden taskbars.
  • When dragging something to pin to the taskbar, the message on the dragged item (for example, displaying an X if it's not supported) will now have rounded corners.
  • Mitigated an issue where swiping to collapse the tablet-optimized taskbar might unexpectedly invoke the widgets board.
  • Fixed an issue that was sometimes causing the search box in the top of Start to flicker.
  • Mitigated an underlying issue where if you swiped to open the All apps list, sometimes it would think that you'd tapped one of the letter headers in the All apps list.
  • Updated the context menu when right clicking a pinned app to say "Move to front" rather than "Move to top", so it's more clear what will happen.
  • A Clock app update (version 11.2202.24.0 and higher) has rolled out that fixes the issue where the Clock app was unable to update the Windows Focus state when configuring focus sessions in the Clock app.
  • Fixed a few cases where icons were missing next to entries in the context menu and command bar (for example, for the Next Desktop Background entry in the context menu when right clicking on the desktop).
  • Made some small adjustments to some of the icons used in the context menu and command bar, including the copy icon.
  • Folders whose only content is other folders will now show an icon with a slip of paper to indicate there is content inside the folder instead of an empty folder icon.
  • Addressed an underlying issue that could cause File Explorer to crash when using the Group By option.
  • If you set keyboard focus to Desktops in Task View, the border shown around the thumbnails will now have rounded corners.
  • Fixed an issue where hovering over the Task View icon on secondary monitors wouldn't bring up the Desktops flyout when using the Arabic or Hebrew display language.
  • Fixed an issue where if you selected one of the Microsoft Edge tabs displayed in snap assist, the window would animate in from the wrong place.
  • Snap layouts should now minimize properly if you drag a window through the corner of snap layouts.
  • Fixed an issue where snap layouts would unexpectedly immediately display while dragging a window instead of just showing a hint for Insiders with an Arabic or Hebrew display language.
  • Addressed an issue where rotating your tablet before the previous screen rotation animation had finished would cause the rotation animation to abruptly cut out.
  • Mitigated an issue where using the 3-finger touch gesture to minimize all apps quickly could result in windows getting stuck in a shrunken state.
  • Reduced the size of the area above a notification where clicks weren't being passed through to the underlying window so it's the same sized area as the side of the notification.
  • Mitigated an issue leading to issues dragging the title bar of a maximized window with touch.
  • Fixed an issue where if the Open or Save dialog was open in an app, and you used ALT + Tab to switch away from the app and then back, keyboard focus might get lost.
  • Fixed an issue where the conversion option in the Korean IME context menu wasn't working.
  • Addressed an issue where the IME toolbar wasn't showing/hiding correctly if you'd chosen to use the previous version of the Japanese IME.
  • Improved reliability of showing the touch keyboard on the login screen after tapping the PIN or password field after rebooting or upgrade.
  • Fixed an issue where some of the text in the touch keyboard was difficult to read when using the "Black and White" text input theme.
  • Made another fix for the "size and theme" link under Settings > Time & Language > Typing > Touch Keyboard not working.
  • Mitigated an issue where the touch keyboard was still showing the previous text candidates when you switched to voice typing.
  • The "Press Enter" and "Press Tab" commands should be working when using voice typing for Chinese (Traditional) now.
  • Fixed an issue where the 3 or 4 finger touchpad gesture for adjusting your audio volume level wasn't working with certain paired Bluetooth audio devices.
  • Fixed an issue where tooltips did not accurately display the preferred visual setting when Task Manager is configured for dark mode.
  • Fixed an issue where Task Manager wasn't populating the details of the Status column in the Startup Apps page.
  • Fixed an issue that was causing the volume flyout that appears from using your hardware keys to be stuck on screen.
  • Mitigated an issue that could result in explorer.exe getting stuck and not fully initializing during first login.
  • Fixed a few more issues impacting explorer.exe reliability
Zac Bowden
Senior Editor

Zac Bowden is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. Bringing you exclusive coverage into the world of Windows on PCs, tablets, phones, and more. Also an avid collector of rare Microsoft prototype devices! Keep in touch on Twitter and Threads