Windows 11 Preview Adds Microsoft Account and DoH Discoverability Features
Microsoft's latest Windows 11 release to Windows Insider program testers in the Dev Channel includes a Microsoft account settings overview screen, plus an enhancement to the Domain Name System (DNS) over HTTPS feature.
Build 22489 of Windows 11 is now released to Windows Insider Dev Channel testers, Microsoft indicated on Wednesday. This build mostly brings a lot of bug fixes, but it has a few new features.
New 'Your Microsoft Account' Feature
One of those new additions is a "Your Microsoft account" screen feature, showing Microsoft account information under Windows 11's "Settings" menu.
The Your Microsoft account screen also lets people directly access their Microsoft accounts within Windows 11. Users will see various information associated with their Microsoft accounts, including "your subscriptions for Microsoft 365, links to order history, payment details, and Microsoft Rewards," the announcement indicated.
Not everyone in the Windows Insider program's Dev Channel will be getting access to the Your Microsoft account feature. It'll just be available to "a very small set of Insiders at first" before a more general rollout, Microsoft explained.
Online Service Experience Packs
Microsoft is planning to distribute the Your Microsoft account feature via its Online Service Experience Packs capability, which appears to be a new update approach.
Online Service Experience Packs are used to add Windows features outside of major operating system upgrade releases. Microsoft releases Windows 11 "feature updates" (essentially new OS releases) once per year.
Online Service Experience Packs are different from Microsoft's Windows Feature Experience Packs, per the announcement:
The difference between the two is that the Windows Feature Experience Packs can deliver broad improvements across multiple areas of Windows, whereas the Online Service Experience Packs are focused on delivering improvements for a specific experience such as the new Your Microsoft account settings page.
Former Microsoft employee and Windows deployment expert Michael Niehaus recently described Windows Feature Experience Packs as being modifications to "shell-related components" that get updated "separately from the OS." He listed the many different kinds of Windows updates Microsoft now uses in this blog post on the topic.
Niehaus didn't describe the Online Service Experience Packs in his list. However, Microsoft's did indicate in the announcement that it's new. Microsoft is just now "testing this mechanism out with the new Your Microsoft account settings page first." Further details about the packs weren't described.
New Designated Resolver Discovery for DoH
Windows 11 build 22489 added support for a Discovery of Designated Resolvers (DDR) capability. DDR is a way to make the security feature, Domain Name System (DNS) over HTTPS encryption (also known as "DoH"), discoverable by client OSes in a more secure way.
DoH adds encryption when resolving Internet addresses on DNS servers. Without DoH, these resolutions happen via plain text queries, which means that the queries are visible to Internet Service Providers. Plain-text queries also can be subject to man-in-the-middle types of attacks.
Windows 11 and Windows Server 2022 currently support DoH. The DDR capability added to build 22489 of Windows 11 is designed to help clients dynamically discover a DoH template without plain text getting exchanged, explained Tommy Jensen of the Windows Core Networking team, in this announcement.
Microsoft co-developed DDR "in partnership with Quad9 and Cisco's OpenDNS," and it's currently at the Internet Engineering Task Force in the draft stage, Jensen noted.
New SDK and NuGet Packages
Even developers got something with this Windows 11 Dev Channel release.
"We are releasing new SDK and NuGet packages for developers with this build," Microsoft's announcement indicated.
The NuGet packages include .NET TFM packages, "C++ packages for Win32 headers and libs per architecture," and a BuildTools package. Developers are getting "more granular access to the SDK," as well as better CI/CD integration, with the NuGet packages.
Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.