What to expect from Microsoft’s Windows 11 event on April 5

Windows EventSource: Microsoft

Microsoft’s next Windows 11 event is happening next week. This time, Microsoft is expected to discuss Windows 11 for commercial customers, highlighting how the OS was built for hybrid work scenarios. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and chief product officer Panos Panay are set to take the stage, along with a handful of other presenters, touching on Windows 11 and Microsoft 365.

The event is happening on the Microsoft website on April 5 at 8AM PT. So, what should we expect to see at this event? Let’s put our thinking caps on.

An overview of the first big Windows 11 feature update

Windows 11 Update Windowsupdate Estimate New Light

Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central

Microsoft is currently testing the next release (version 22H2) of Windows 11 in the Insider Dev and Beta Channels, but it hasn’t “formally” announced the next version of its OS yet. This event will be a suitable place for Microsoft to do that, highlighting new features in testing, including improvements to File Explorer, Action Center, touch gestures, productivity enhancements, and under the hood improvements around security, performance, and more.

This event is designed for Microsoft to be able to sit down with commercial customers and essentially “sell” the Windows 11 vision to them. Expect lots of talk about how Windows 11 is great for the enterprise with enhanced security features and group policy additions. Plus, we also expect to hear more about Windows 365, and how Windows 11 can enhance businesses around the world via the cloud.

Additionally, we may see Microsoft talk about a small handful of new Windows 11 features that we haven’t yet seen in the Insider Program officially. Let’s break down what those could be.

Suggested Actions

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Source: FireCubeStudios

Microsoft has been working on a new smart feature called “Suggested Actions” that will present quick access to common tasks when copying dates, times, and phone numbers to your clipboard. For example, copying a date or time from a Microsoft Word document or website will present a quick action for creating an event using those details in the Calendar app. Copying a phone number will also present a quick action for creating a new contact in Outlook.

A new Outlook email app

Outlook Web App

Source: Windows Central

It’s possible that Microsoft will take the wraps off its new desktop Outlook email client, known internally as “Project Monarch” or “One Outlook.” This email client is expected to eventually replace the built-in Mail and Calendar apps on Windows 11, though we don’t expect that to happen right now. Instead, the new app will be pre-loaded in Windows 11 alongside the existing client for those who aren’t ready to make the switch right away.

The new Outlook client is based on web tech, offering a lightweight, fast, email experience that can be deployed across Windows, Mac, and Outlook Web. The app is expected to launch in preview in the coming weeks, so an announcement on April 5 looks likely.

Tabs in File Explorer

Win11 Tabs File Explorer Dark

Source: Windows Central

It’s an open secret that Microsoft is finally bringing tabs to File Explorer. We’ve already seen an early version in recent Windows Insider builds, so Microsoft might officially unveil the feature on April 5. It’s designed to make it easier to manage and organize files in File Explorer, making it possible to group different folders under one File Explorer window.

It’s a feature that users have requested for a long time, and given its presence on macOS and some Linux distributions, it’s about time Microsoft brought it to Windows as well. The question now is whether Microsoft is ready to talk about it on April 5, or if tabs in File Explorer are planned for next year, instead.

Third party widgets?

Widgets dashboard

Source: Windows Central

We’re filing this one under unlikely given this event’s intended audience, but Microsoft could detail its plans around allowing third-party developers to build and submit widgets for use in the Widgets panel. So far, the Widgets panel has been limited to a very small subset of first-party Widgets built by Microsoft, most of which aren’t commercial customers.

Opening up the platform to all developers could allow businesses to build their own widgets for use within the company and with employees. Again, this is a bit of a stretch, but you never know.

Microsoft 365 news and announcements

Windows 11 Review Msword

Source: Windows Central

It wouldn’t be a Microsoft commercial event without some announcements around Microsoft 365. I’ve heard Microsoft is planning to bring features such as Play My Emails to Outlook Web, and there’s been an internal redesign of Office Online in the works for well over a year. Perhaps we’ll see that officially announced at this event as well.

Microsoft will likely highlight how Microsoft 365 is designed for hybrid work scenarios, with integrations on Windows 11 that enhance your productivity flow thanks to built-in features such as Focus Assist and Do Not Disturb, improvements to docking, multiple monitor settings, and more.

New hardware?

Surface Laptop Go Surface Logo

Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central

We’re also filing this one under unlikely, but Microsoft could opt to announce new hardware at this event too. I hear Microsoft only has one new Surface on the agenda for this spring, that being the Surface Laptop Go 2. There’s some argument that could be made for it being announced on April 5, especially if the first version was a hit with commercial customers. But again, we think it’s unlikely.

Surface Laptop Go 2 is expected to be a relatively minor upgrade, with Intel 11th-gen chips on the inside and not much else in the way of new additions. If it’s not announced on April 5, we expect its announcement to follow in the coming weeks as I hear it’s pretty much ready to go.

We’ll have all the announcements…

That’s a rundown of what we’re expecting and hoping to see Microsoft talk about on April 5. Of course, we’ll know for sure what Microsoft is planning to talk about on the day, so be sure to check back here for live coverage of all the announcements coming out of Microsoft’s Windows 11 and Hybrid Work event.

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