Enable and Customize Your Windows 10/11 Startup Screen

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I’ve put together this guide to help you enable and customize the startup screen in Windows 10 and Windows 11, focusing on the 23H2 update. You’ll find easy steps to make the most out of the new Start Menu and Taskbar features, tailored to enhance your system’s interface. Whether you’re familiar with Windows or just getting started, this guide will assist you in creating a more intuitive and enjoyable computing experience on your system.

1. Overview of Windows 11 23H2 Update Features

The Windows 11 23H2 update brings a range of new features and improvements, enhancing both functionality and user experience. Key changes include:

  • Spotlight Redesign: The Spotlight feature on the desktop has been updated with a new interface. It now provides rich information about the background image and includes 4K portrait images.
  • Taskbar Enhancements: This update reintroduces some legacy Taskbar features, such as the ability to ungroup buttons and hide labels. Users can now customize the Taskbar display based on their preferences.
    • Show labels in different ways: “Never,” “When taskbar is full,” or “Always.”
    • New Taskbar context menu options, including the ability to end tasks directly from the Taskbar.
  • Quick Settings and Notifications: Windows 11 now includes an enhanced volume mixer in Quick Settings and a redesigned notifications system.
    • Improved audio customization per app with the ability to switch devices quickly.
    • Notifications are now indicated by a bell icon in the system tray, which colorizes based on the system accent color.

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2. Enabling the Start Menu Features

The Start Menu in Windows 11 23H2 has been significantly improved, particularly with the introduction of file thumbnail previews:

  • Thumbnail Previews: Users can now hover over files in the Start menu’s Recommended section to view thumbnail previews, similar to those in File Explorer.
    • Supports various file types like .txt, .pdf, .jpg, and .png.
    • Enhances the usability of the Start menu by providing quick previews of recently opened items.
  • Start Menu Layout: The Start menu now features three sections: All apps, Pinned, and Recommended.
    • All apps section lists all installed applications.
    • Recommended section shows recently opened files and applications.

3. Taskbar Customization

The Taskbar in Windows 11 23H2 offers greater customization, allowing users to tailor its appearance and functionality to their preferences:

  • Ungrouping and Labeling: Users can choose how Taskbar buttons are displayed.
    • Options include never combining buttons, showing labels always, or only when the Taskbar is full.
  • Enhanced Context Menu: The Taskbar context menu now includes more options for managing applications and system settings.
    • Directly terminate applications from the Taskbar.
    • Quick access to network troubleshooting and Task Manager.

4. Notifications and Quick Settings

The Windows 11 23H2 update has revamped the approach to notifications and introduced new features in Quick Settings:

  • Notifications Bell Icon: The notifications system has been redesigned with a bell icon in the system tray.
    • The bell icon changes color based on the system accent color when new notifications are present.
    • When there are no notifications, the bell icon appears empty.
  • Enhanced Volume Mixer: A new, modern volume mixer is available in Quick Settings, offering more control over audio settings.
    • Allows users to customize audio settings per app.
    • Provides options to swap audio devices quickly and easily.

5. Acquiring the Update

To upgrade to the Windows 11 version 23H2, users can follow these steps:

  • Checking Eligibility: Ensure that your device is running Windows 11, version 22H2 or earlier compatible versions.
  • Update via Settings: Go to Settings > Windows Update.
    • Enable the option for “Get the latest updates as soon as they’re available.”
    • Click on “Check for updates” to initiate the update process.
  • Servicing Technology: The update uses servicing technology for a faster installation experience, similar to the monthly update process.
  • Safeguard Holds: If potential issues are detected, such as application incompatibility, the update might be withheld until the issue is resolved.

6. Information for Commercial and Education Customers

Windows 11 version 23H2 is also available for commercial and education environments, with specific features and recommendations:

  • Deployment Channels: The update is accessible through Windows Server Update Services, Windows Update for Business, and the Volume Licensing Service Center.
  • Targeted Deployments: It is advisable for organizations to begin targeted deployments to test compatibility with their apps, devices, and infrastructure.
  • Support Duration: This version resets the support timeline, offering 24 months of support for Home and Pro editions, and 36 months for Enterprise and Education editions.
  • Additional Features: Some features initially disabled in version 22H2 are now enabled by default in version 23H2.

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