Windows App Essentials 22.05 is now available. While this is a minor release, it packs several bug fixes. As always, the new release can be found by checking for updates via Add-on Updater or on community add-ons website.
* NVDA will once again announce search result details in Start menu.
* In Windows 11, Taskbar items and other user interface controls can be detected properly when using mouse and/or touch interaction.
* Settings: In Windows 10, NVDA will interrupt speech and report updates to Windows Update status as download and install progresses. This may result in speech interruption when navigating Settings app while updates are being downloaded and installed.
In case of the first item, it is now part of NVDA 2022.2 (alpha build at the moment).
Also, the following is a tentative plan for northern summer:
- Next stable add-on release: if things go according to plan, the next version of the add-on (after 22.05) will be the first release to include support for features included in upcoming Windows 11 Version 22H2 (nickel/sun valley 2).
- Major change to installation message on Windows 10: as Microsoft is focusing more on Windows 11, it might be possible that Windows 10 will remain in maintenance mode, with a possibility that the next Windows 10 feature update (22H2) will be a minor update on top of 21H2. If this is indeed confirmed in several months, then the add-on will switch to displaying a different installation message on Windows 10 releases that will list supported public releases. For example, instead of the add-on saying “this add-on requires Windows 10 (version) or later”, it will say “supported releases: (a list of supported public releases)” e.g. “supported releases: 21H1, 21H2, 22H2”. Windows 11 users will receive the current message (telling you the minimum supported version) but that won’t show up until 2023. In fact, people running development releases may have encountered the new message recently.
- Speaking of supported Windows releases: support for Windows 10 Version 21H1 (May 2021 Update/build 19043) from the add-on is slowly coming to a close. People subscribed to dev channel for add-on updates (specifically, people downloading add-on development snapshots) will be notified of this soon (as early as mid-May). For stable channel subscribers, the last add-on release to support 21H1 is scheduled to be released in late summer (tentatively August). Microsoft itself will end support for 21H1 across all Windows 10 editions in December 2022.
- How about upcoming feature updates: Windows 11 Version 22H2 is being finalized (things can change at the last minute), and I assume Windows 10 Version 22H2 plan is being made. Although the next stable version of Windows App Essentials add-on will give you a sneak peak of the upcoming Windows 11 feature update, official support for 22H2 begins later this year. I’m also monitoring Windows 10 feature update closely as the nature of 22H2 will have an impact on the development plan for the add-on.
- NVDA 2022.1 requirement: as I noted above, one bug fix from 22.05 is now part of NVDA 2022.2. But why is this related to upcoming NVDA 2022.1? This is because the add-on supports at most three NVDA releases: current, immediate past, and development builds. As of time of this writing, 2022.1 beta 4 is considered current version (as far as add-on is concerned), 2021.3.5 is the immediate past release, and 2022.2 alpha is the version under development. At some point later this year, the add-on will ask you to use NVDA 2022.1, specifically a few days after 2022.2 stable version is released to acknowledge the fact that folks need more time to install updated add-ons compatible with 2022.1 changes. In some ways, recent and upcoming NVDA releases incorporate several things from the add-on; not only keeping up with recent releases helps you, but also helps me (the add-on developer) in reducing maintenance burden.
Two more things (long-term plan):
- I advise everyone using Windows 10 or 11 to install Windows App Essentials add-on as it is designed to make these Windows releases a bit easier to use and tasks more efficient. But consider the following…
- All things must come to an end. I foresee a time when I will no longer maintain Windows App Essentials myself, or if things align, discontinue the add-on altogether. Whether that can happen this year, next year, 2025 when Microsoft ends support for Windows 10, or at a future date, be prepared to put the add-on behind us. I may even end up asking NV Access to incorporate parts of the add-on into NVDA, but that’s not high on the list – the number one request on my list is bring add-on updating functionality to NVDA (won’t go into details in this thread).
The reason I say the above is because I’m about to accelerate my exit plan from NVDA development (I am currently testing a variation of the second bug fix (navigating Windows 11 interface with mouse and/or touch) in preparation for proposing a possible solution to NV Access in the form of a pull request, which may end up being the last planned code contribution; I might perhaps come back to teach NVDA to recognize 22H2 feature updates but that won’t be until fall). Recently (more so since middle of April), I began experiencing situations where I feel I’m not myself or somehow overwhelmed with priorities (or perhaps too early to say, but might be experiencing symptoms of burnout), more so as I go through graduate education while keeping up with NVDA and add-on developments. After assessing the situation, I came to the conclusion that I need a “clean break” from NVDA development i.e. no more screen reader code contributions so I can spend my energy on more pressing matters. Eventually I plan to discontinue the remaining add-ons I’m maintaining (Add-on Updater and Windows App Essentials), which I consider is my one last remaining link to NVDA code (and perhaps publish a best practices guide for pull request authors but that’s aimed at a different audience).
I understand that my recent statements, including the statement I made above, can come across a shocking, sometimes incomplete or incoherent, or perhaps something unexpected from someone who is energetic about the screen reader and this user (and developer) community. I also understand that some of you look up to me as a role model or a community leader, seeking guidance on all things NVDA, or perhaps talk about following my (and others’) lead and contribute code or write add-ons. But I believe in taking off the “occupational mask” to tell you exactly what is happening so you can make an informed decision and take necessary steps. By telling you what’s happening, my hope is that you can consider NVDA developers like myself as humans, not heroes, and despite the “fantasies of making a difference with programming”, code contribution (or in some cases, add-on development) is not for everyone. No, please do not take this as an elitist statement – I want you to see a clearer picture about NVDA development and the benefits and costs of this activity (if you still think that NVDA code contribution or add-on development is your calling after reading my statements above, then let’s have a private chat).
Hope all this helps. In the meantime, enjoy the new Windows App Essentials add-on release.