Microsoft PowerToys update improves accessibility

The entrance to one of Microsoft's offices
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Microsoft has upgraded its PowerToys software with three new utilities to improve accessibility and usability.

PowerToys is a collection of utilities that adds functionality to Windows not included by default. It was originally a proprietary Microsoft product, but is now open source.

Version 0.55 of the software now includes an option to put a crosshair over the mouse pointer. This feature, developed with Microsoft's accessibility team, will give users with visibility issues a better indicator of cursor movement and position.

The software also offers two new add-ons for File Explorer. The first offers support for around 150 developer files in the preview pane, while the second offers thumbnail support for files in STL, which is a common file format used for CAD applications and 3D printing.

Under the hood, the open source product's developers are also working towards support for the ARM64 architecture, explained the GitHub page for the latest release. They have upgraded the .NET runtime that the product uses to version 5, with plans to adopt version 6 in the next release.

This not only makes ARM64 support easier but also reduces the number of moving parts in the software and improves performance, they added.


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The company previously updated PowerToys last month with support for built-in web search and an 'Always on Top' feature that toggles a focused window to stay in front of all the others. The latest update fixes a bug that caused borders to show incorrectly in the Always on Top feature, and also reduced its demand on the CPU and GPU. Developers said that there is more work to do in reducing these processing demands.

"Not done improving, we know we can do better," they said.

This update also adds transparency to thumbnails showing files in the G-code format. Developers announced support for the numerical programming language, used to control industrial cutting machines, in the January update.

Danny Bradbury

Danny Bradbury has been a print journalist specialising in technology since 1989 and a freelance writer since 1994. He has written for national publications on both sides of the Atlantic and has won awards for his investigative cybersecurity journalism work and his arts and culture writing. 

Danny writes about many different technology issues for audiences ranging from consumers through to software developers and CIOs. He also ghostwrites articles for many C-suite business executives in the technology sector and has worked as a presenter for multiple webinars and podcasts.