Microsoft confirms Narrator issue in Windows 11 version 23H2
Windows 11 users who install the latest version of the operating system via ISO or media may not be able to start Narrator during installation. Microsoft confirmed the issue today on a support site that it uses to list known issues publicly.
Narrator is a key accessibility feature of the Windows operating system. It may read aloud text that the operating system displays on the screen. It is commonly started with the keyboard shortcut Ctrl-Windows-Enter. Other options include opening the Start Menu, typing Narrator and selecting the result, or by typing Narrator in a command prompt window or the run box (Windows-R). Narrator is also baked into the setup process of the operating system to assist users who want to use it or require it.
Tip: you can stop Narrator from reading aloud with the shortcut CapsLock-Esc.
Microsoft notes that Narrator is present on the Windows installation, but that it may launch in an "unresponsive state" when it is started using any available option during setup.
The issue may affect Windows 11 installations only if the operating system is installed using physical media or disc images, e.g., from an USB stick after using Microsoft's official tool or third-party tools such as Rufus or Ventoy. The installation via media or ISO images offers some advantages over installations via Windows Update. Besides the ability to reuse the installation media as often as necessary, it also supports making some configuration changes, e.g., to bypass hardware requirement checks.
Only Windows 11 version 23H2 appears to be affected by the issue. No other client or server version of Windows is affected, at least according to the information that Microsoft provides.
Microsoft notes that Narrator should work fine after setup furthermore saying that the assistive tool "should continue to work as expected once the installation is completed".
A workaround is not available at this stage. Some Windows 11 users may overcome the issue by installing the latest feature update using Windows Update. Others may want to wait with the installation, if possible, until the issue is resolved.
The Narrator issue is the first Windows 11 version 23H2 issue that Microsoft confirmed publicly.
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