The big news this week is the release of NVDA 2023.2, so let’s dive in!
NV Access is pleased to announce that Version 2023.2 of NVDA, the free screen reader for Microsoft Windows, is now available for download. We encourage all users to upgrade to this version.
This release introduces the Add-on Store to replace the Add-ons Manager. In the Add-on Store you can browse, search, install and update community add-ons. You can now manually override incompatibility issues with outdated add-ons at your own risk.
There are new braille features, commands, and display support. There are also new input gestures for OCR and flattened object navigation. Navigating and reporting formatting in Microsoft Office is improved.
There are many bug fixes, particularly for braille, Microsoft Office, web browsers and Windows 11.
Beta and RC updates
We are trying something different with the release of NVDA 2023.2. Those on beta or release candidate builds, if you would like to stay on the “pre-release” build path and automatically get the first 2023.3 beta when it comes out – please stay on 2023.2rc1. We regularly say that the last RC build is the same as the final stable release and I should stress that is absolutely true (aside from the version number obviously). So 2023.2 rc1 is identical in terms of functionality to 2023.2 (stable). 2023.2 rc1 won’t detect the stable release as an update so you can leave it to check updates and it will automatically pick up 2023.3 beta 1 when it is out. If you’ve already installed 2023.2, don’t worry, we’ll announce the next beta when it comes out. We’re trialling this in order to hopefully encourage more people on that track. We would like more people to trial beta and RC builds. Doing this will make it more likely we will pick up serious issues before the stable build.
The intention is to have an option for this in the future. There is already an “Add-on update channel selector” add-on which does a similar thing if you would like the ability to change update paths as an option.
Hopefully that’s not too confusing but as always, do please reach out if you have any questions.
We’ve mentioned the new add-on store a couple of times, but now we’re very excited to see it out in the wild and available to all NVDA users! With the release of NVDA 2023.2, the add-on store makes it possible to download add-ons right from within NVDA itself. The store also includes the ability to search by add-on or publisher. You can find the add-ons store in the Tools menu, in the same place the add-on manager used to be.
The add-on store includes the ability to override the warning about an add-on being incompatible with the current version of NVDA. By doing this, you can install and run an add-on which has not been tested with the current version of NVDA. Please note that this does NOT make an incompatible add-on work with the current version! It simply ignores the check. If you run an incompatible add-on and it does not work, we are not able to make it work. You will need to report that to the add-on developer. The benefit of the option is that soon after an API breaking .1 release, some add-ons will still be compatible but may not have been updated yet. These are generally discussed in the user group. If this is the case and an add-on has been widely tested but not yet updated, you may with to override the check. Please do proceed carefully if you do this. Just because an add-on appears to work initially, does not guarantee anything.
Preparing for 2024.1
And that leads us into our preparations for 2024.1. I know we’re just announcing the release of 2023.2, and we’re still planning 2023.3, but we’re already looking ahead. This means that Alpha releases are starting to include 2024.1 breaking changes. It is very important, if using alpha, to ensure any bugs are reproducible with add-ons disabled before filing them. Please note, these breaking changes are aimed for inclusion with NVDA 2024.1.
Restarting after updating
And now an important note that we share each time a new version comes out. After updating any software, it is a good idea to restart the computer. Restart by going to the Shutdown dialog, selecting “restart” and pressing ENTER. Updating software can change files which are in use. This can lead to instability and strange behaviour which is resolved by rebooting. This is the first thing to try if you do notice anything odd after updating. We have had reports this week of odd things not working. These have all turned out to be rectified by restarting the PC.
Thanks to Association Valentin Haüy
This week, we would like to publicly thank Association Valentin Haüy for their support.
Frenchman Valentin Haüy created the first school for the blind in the world in 1785 in Paris, France. It was at this school that Louis Braille studied before creating the writing system which bears his name. Today Association Valentin Haüy are a major provider of services to blind and vision impaired people in France. Association Valentin Haüy recognise the need users have for a screen reader that they can afford. A charity themselves, they were keen to help us as well and ensure that we are able to continue to provide NVDA for free to anyone in the world who can use it. If you would like to give as well, we would very much appreciate your one off or ongoing donation for as much or as little as you can afford. Find out more at the NV Access donation page.
That’s all for this week. Do please try out the new and improved features in NVDA 2023.2. We’ll be back soon, with a little surprise for you!