Windows 11 build 21996

Build of Windows 11
OS family
Works in
21996 Winver.png
Home (N, Single Language)
SE (N)
Pro (N)
Pro Education (N)
Pro for Workstations (N)
Education (N)
Enterprise (N)
Use a Windows 10 Retail serial
TCB.png TCBGallery.png

Windows 11 build 21996 is the earliest available build of Windows 11, which was shared online on 15 June 2021. Prior to its leak, it was mentioned in a GitHub issue posted by a Microsoft employee on 1 June 2021.[1]

It is currently the earliest available build to replace the older flag first introduced in Windows 8 with a new flat design; however, the old design is still present in certain areas presented within the build.

System requirements[edit | edit source]

This build raises the system requirements to 4 GB of memory and a dual-core processor or better. The setup also checks for Secure Boot and Trusted Platform Module support on UEFI systems in accordance with the announced Windows 11 system requirements, although the build doesn't actually require either to work. The requirements can be bypassed by using dism.exe to directly apply the install image, or by disabling the checks altogether in the registry before running the setup:


Alternatively, this build's install.wim can be used with an installer from a Windows 10 build, however, it may remove the ability to upgrade if an older build is used. Replacing the libraries responsible for the requirement checks, appraiserres.dll and appraiser.dll with a version from Windows 10 on the install media has also been found to work.

New features[edit | edit source]

This build contains many new and updated features in relation to the user experience. Windows 11 branding has been introduced throughout the operating system. The out-of-box experience from Windows 10X makes a reappearance in this build with slight visual updates, and other user interface elements have been updated bearing a resemblance with the Windows 10X aesthetic. The new boot animation, previously added in prior builds that replaces the progress ring from Windows 8 still remains disabled by default, however. There is also a new theme-dependent sound scheme present, which also introduces a new startup sound to replace the sound first introduced in Windows Vista but disabled by default in Windows 8, 8.1, and 10.

The Aero visual style has been updated with new neumorphic controls and widgets. The new design makes large use of elements such as rounded corners, shadows, as well as blue accents. Window frames have also been updated to use rounded corners, although they show squared when a graphics driver is not present and Desktop Window Manager is forced to use software rendering.

The File Explorer icon has been changed in order to be consistent with the new Fluent icon set design previously introduced with Windows 10 build 21343.

Start menu and Taskbar[edit | edit source]

A new taskbar, similar to the one featured in Windows 10X, has been introduced. Unlike previous versions of Windows, the Start button and application buttons are centered by default, rather than aligned to the left, although the old behavior can be re-enabled in Settings. The new taskbar also removes support for custom toolbars such as the Quick Launch panel.[2] The ability to open the jumplist for applications on the taskbar by dragging up on the icon is no longer present.

The options to change the location of the taskbar and show window/applications names in the taskbar have been removed. The setting to show the taskbar on all displays was also removed, although it can be toggled directly using a registry value:[3]


Similarly, the option to use smaller icons in the taskbar has been removed from Settings. However, this is likely a temporary change as a new registry setting has been introduced that adds a new, larger than default mode for the taskbar:

; Small taskbar

; Medium taskbar (default)

; Large taskbar

News and interests has also been removed from the new taskbar and is replaced by Widgets, a panel available from the taskbar that slides from the left and contains weather and news provided by MSN. Support for third-party widgets would not be implemented until Copper build 25217.

Together with the new taskbar, the Start menu has been greatly revamped. Live tiles have been completely removed, with the intended replacement also being the new Widgets panel. The main page shows icons of pinned applications in the top half, with the full list of apps being available by clicking the "All Apps" button in the top right corner. The lower half shows recommended apps and files, which can also be expanded by clicking the "More" button on the right side. The bottom panel contains the power button on the right and the user name and picture on the left, which when clicked reveals links to user account settings, logoff and lock features.

Similarly to the multi-monitor taskbar, the new Start menu can also be disabled using a registry value, reverting back to the Windows 10 design:[4]


Snap layouts[edit | edit source]

Hovering over the Maximize/Restore button in the window caption by default shows a new menu that allows the user to pick a snap layout, as well as being able to choose the current window's position in it. Furthermore, when multiple windows are snapped next to each other, the taskbar also shows a common window preview for all windows in the layout when hovering over the respective apps icons.

SE edition[edit | edit source]

This build renames the Cloud Edition SKU previously introduced in build 21354 to Windows 11 SE. The edition is intended for low-cost computers aimed at educational institutions to compete with Chrome OS. It can only be managed over Microsoft Intune for Education.

In this build, it removes customer-oriented features, such as Your Phone and Widgets, and disables the Microsoft Store. It is also required to log in using a Microsoft account during the OOBE. However, unlike Windows 10 S, there is no limitation that prevents running Win32 apps not downloaded from the Store.

Touch[edit | edit source]

The build also introduces many changes regarding support for touch devices, the largest of which is the complete removal of the legacy Tablet Mode start menu. The advanced multi-touch gestures (initially supported for touchpads only) can now also be used with a touch screen as well. Smaller improvements to simplify the experience of the Windows desktop for tablet users such as a larger window resize hitbox have also been implemented, making windows far easier to manage. In addition, while being moved, windows are encased in an acrylic border.

Settings[edit | edit source]

The new Fluent UI icon set has been implemented into the Settings app.

Setup[edit | edit source]

The Windows 10X out-of-box experience that has also been included in previous builds is now used by default. The WinPE-based setup has also received minor UI changes mostly resulting from the updated visual style.

When performing a clean installation from the installation media with the network connected, the OOBE will automatically perform an upgrade to a higher version of Windows.

Bugs and quirks[edit | edit source]

General[edit | edit source]

  • When explorer.exe is started from the SYSTEM account, the old Windows 10 taskbar will appear instead of the new one.
  • When updating folder options, the File Explorer window might flicker in the background.
  • The Widgets pane's contents may fail to render on certain devices, the user can still interact with them.
  • The Widgets pane may not load and instantly close upon trying to open it.
  • Sometimes the Search Box shows a black box instead of the search results.
  • Many areas still use the old Windows 10 branding, including the Setup and the boot menu.

Out of Box Experience (OOBE)[edit | edit source]

  • When installing N editions, the OOBE will fail to load due to the absence of Windows Media Player components.
  • The "Forgot your password?" link when setting up a Microsoft account or unchecking the option to receive promotional emails both lead to a blank screen.

Desktop Window Manager[edit | edit source]

  • The taskbar may become fully transparent on some configurations when installing graphics drivers.
  • Window frames appear squared with software rendering or during the close animation.
  • On some UWP applications like Settings, a small white corner may appear on the close button whilst pressing and holding on the Close button.
  • There are multiple glitches with application windows that use the DWM to expand the former glass frame into their client area, such as the Windows Mobility Center.
    • When not maximized, only a shadow or window frame is shown, although the taskbar thumbnails are rendered correctly.
    • When maximized, the window contents are shown correctly, however, the background may become fully transparent.
  • Dropdown menus may fall back to square corners in some applications after being shown once with rounded ones.
  • The animation that occurs when viewing two taskbar thumbnails next to each other does not render.

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Setup[edit | edit source]

Out-of-box experience (OOBE)[edit | edit source]

User interface[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]