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Windows 11 Insider Release Spotlights Focus Sessions, ISO Installers

Snippets of the new Clock app and its functionalities courtesy of Microsoft.
Snippets of the new Clock app and its functionalities courtesy of Microsoft. (Image credit: Microsoft)

Microsoft just released the latest Windows Insider preview build, version 22000.160. Besides the usual assortment of bug and stability fixes (as well as the still enormous list of known issues, which you really shouldn't skip if you plan on giving it a test run), two key features make this build an important stepping stone in the path towards a public release. First, Microsoft is now officially releasing ISOs for Windows 11's Insider Previews - no need to jump through hoops to get a clean Windows 11 install anymore, even if we at Tom's Hardware made the process as seamless as possible in our article on how to download a Windows 11 ISO. Second is the addition of a new clock app with a focus sessions feature.

The ISO version available isn't the latest release, however - it's build 22000.132. However, nothing should prevent you from installing the available build and then forcing an update to the latest version through the Windows Update feature. To do so, go to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Insider Program on your device. Set it to the Dev Channel. Go to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update to check for the latest update, and update your device to the latest build available in the Dev Channel.

But the new clock app is the Focus, so to speak, of this release. The new and improved Clock app for Windows has been spruced up in line with Windows 11's design philosophy. The result? Besides looking - well, beautiful, your mileage may vary - the Clock app should now prove to be much more than a glorified digital watch thanks to its new Focus Sessions feature. Focus Sessions come as Microsoft's way to try and reduce overstimulation, enabling users to focus on the task at hand by allowing you to set custom Focus Session timers - essentially, a countdown clock until your next break, during which you should remain, well - focused. There are traces of gamification here: Microsoft allows users to set up daily Focus Session goals which keep count of the overall time they've spent in Focus Sessions, as well as a streak counter (how many days in a row users have achieved their Focus Session goals). This writer here could have a daily Focus Session goal of two 30-minute runs to write an article such as this one, for example.

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Snippets of the new Clock app and its functionalities courtesy of Microsoft.

The new Focus Session timer. (Image credit: Microsoft)
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Snippets of the new Clock app and its functionalities courtesy of Microsoft.

The gamification elements of the new Windows 11 Clock app (Image credit: Microsoft)
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Snippets of the new Clock app and its functionalities courtesy of Microsoft.

Seamless Spotify integration for users who need music to enter "the zone". (Image credit: Microsoft)
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Snippets of the new Clock app and its functionalities courtesy of Microsoft.

And a seamless To-Do integration for that feeling of accomplishment. (Image credit: Microsoft)

Some of you may not be able to concentrate on a given task if you're listening to music; for those that do use music to enter "the zone", the updated Clock features Spotify integration, enabling you to choose just the right melody for whatever you need to get done. Finally, an integration with Microsoft's To-Do application enables users to create or conclude Focus Sessions for particular tasks that might require them. The To-Do integration is also seamless in that you'll have access to your entire To-Do list from inside the Clock app, meaning that you don't have to switch contexts to add a task, and then work on it via a Focus Session on the Clock.

Another step on the way towards Windows 11's full release, then. The road is long; and if you need some tips on how to customize Windows 11 your preferences, we've got you covered with articles on how to enable Dark Mode; how to Reset your Windows 11 installation; and others.