Windows 11 : Everything you want to know
Last week’s microsoft update, bought in a lot of changes, major upgrades, and the official announcement for Windows 11
Windows 11 features a more direct new design, with pastel-like colors, rounded corners, a new startup sound and overall a more Mac-like look.
The Windows Start menu has moved from the bottom left of the screen to the middle, with app icons arranged in the center next to it. You’ll also find lots of new desktop tools, like widgets that can give you at-a-glance information, and easier virtual desktop creation. And Android apps will be integrated into Windows and installable from the Microsoft Store.
The update marks the first major change to Microsoft’s operating system since Windows 10 launched back in 2015.
Rumors about a major Windows redesign have been circulating for the past year. At the Microsoft Build developers conference on May 25, CEO Satya Nadella said Microsoft was planning “one of the most significant updates of Windows of the past decade,” confirming that a major change was on the horizon for the 1.3 billion users of the OS in 2021.
And in mid-June, Microsoft quietly announced that it would end support for Windows 10 in 2025 as leaked images of Windows 11 spread.
A faster, more secure version of Windows
The new Start Menu, redesigned for Windows 11.
Today’s event confirms that the OS is officially called Windows 11. Nearly everything about the visual side of the operating system has changed, from new sounds to new icons. Under the hood, Microsoft said the OS is much faster, too. Waking from sleep has improved, Windows updates are 40% smaller and happen in the background, and browsers are faster across the board. Together, Microsoft says these features make it “the most secure Windows yet.”
Microsoft also unveiled the new centered taskbar, which isn’t just a visual change. The new Start Menu is powered by the cloud and Microsoft 365, allowing you to quickly switch from your desktop to your mobile device and work on the same content. It looks like this feature just works with OneDrive, but Microsoft didn’t clarify during the presentation.
As the leaked Windows 11 build showed, widgets are back, too. These are similar to the interests tab in Windows 10, showing you a curated list of news, weather, traffic, and other forms of content.
Microsoft didn’t announce a release date for Windows 11, but in a statement to press, the company said that it will be coming to general audiences this holiday season.
Android apps on the Microsoft Store
Android Apps are now available in Windows 11.
Perhaps the most exciting announcement to come out of the presentation is Android apps coming to the Microsoft Store. Microsoft showed Instagram and TikTok on Windows 11 and said that you’ll be able to use your favorite Android apps directly on the desktop.
The Microsoft Store itself isn’t offering the apps, though. Users can download Android apps via the Amazon App Store. Once installed, the app will function like any other native software. You can resize the window, drag it around your screen , or minimize it to the taskbar, all independently of your Android device.
Additionally, Microsoft announced that the updated Microsoft Store supports almost any kind of app. Developers no longer need to develop a Windows-specific UWP app for the store. You’ll be able to find popular Win32 apps like Google Chrome and Adobe Creative Cloud in the store instead of searching for them online.
Microsoft announced a new revenue sharing program for developers, too. Instead of giving up a cut of apps and services sold on the Microsoft Store, developers can opt to bring their own commerce platform and keep 100% of the revenue.
Xbox features coming to Windows
New gaming features are coming to Windows 11.
Many features available on the Xbox Series X and Series S are coming to Windows 11. The first is Auto HDR, which adjusts the color and contrast of non-HDR games automatically to make them appear as if they’re running with HDR. Microsoft says over 1,000 games will support the feature without any intervention from the developer, including Rocket League and Doom 64.
Direct Storage is part of Windows 11, too. This is an Xbox feature that allows the CPU the maximum amount of throughput, allowing developers to render more complex scenes based on what the player is looking at. It also decreases load times. Windows 11 includes the drivers for Direct Storage, but you’ll likely need a super-fast SSD to take advantage of it.
Microsoft also announced that Xbox Cloud Gaming is coming to Windows 11. Part of Game Pass Ultimate, this service allows you to stream Game Pass titles to your device from an Xbox in the cloud. That will allow PC gamers to play nearly all of the Game Pass library, even if a game isn’t on Game Pass for PC.
Improved multitasking and Microsoft Teams integration
Teams is now integrated right into Windows 11.
Windows 11 brings a slew of productivity improvements. Snap Layouts allow you to quickly snap a window to a certain section of the screen by hovering over the top of the window. Once you found a layout you like, you can save a Snap Group, which allows you to recall previous window configurations instantly.
Users can also save and recall different desktop configurations. You can save different apps to different desktops and quickly switch between them. You could have a gaming desktop with Steam and your favorite games, for example, and a work desktop with messaging applications and your browser.
When working between devices, Windows 11 will automatically adjust the window size to accommodate the display. If you dock a laptop, for example, Windows 11 will automatically minimize your Snap Layout and resize the window to match the display. The same works in reverse whenever you dock your laptop, automatically recalling your previous Snap layout.
Another feature that will help you stay more productive: Desktop integration with Microsoft Teams. Teams is located front and center in the taskbar as a core part of the OS. Microsoft says that users will be able to call and chat others regardless of the platform they’re on, and you’ll see any updates immediately reflected in the Teams app.
Windows 11 event: All of the major announcements from Microsoft
Improved touch use and a redesigned keyboard
A new touch-type keyboard for touchscreens in Windows 11.
Windows 11 is built to handle keyboard and mouse as well as touch. There are a handful of small improvements that should improve the touch experience, including transition animations when going from portrait to landscape mode, touch gestures, and a new on-screen keyboard.
The touch keyboard doesn’t take up the entire screen. Instead, it’s a mobile-like keyboard that you can drag around to a convenient spot. You can swipe between letters to type, and you can use the space bar as a trackpad.
Voice typing is improved, as well. The voice system can automatically detect and add punctuation, and it can accept commands. Microsoft didn’t reference Cortona at all throughout the event, but it looks like a lot of its functionality is being reworked into the voice typing experience.
Pictures of Windows 11
The new keyboard includes GIFs
Microsoft Store New Look
Multi Tasking Page
How to download the Windows 11 Insider Preview build
If you’re a member of the Windows Insider Program (you can sign up now for free), you can download the first Insider Preview build of Windows 11 now. However, it’s important to note that beta versions, particularly early ones like this, tend to be buggy. You should never download a beta on your primary device, only on a tester device if you have one. For most people, it’s best to wait for the public beta to arrive in July, or better yet, the general release later in the year. This first build also does not include every new feature that will eventually arrive with the general release.
1. Make sure you’re running a licensed version of Windows 10 on your device, and that you’re an administrator on the device. Register to join the Windows Insider Program if you haven’t already. Or sign into your Windows Insider account. Click Start flighting.
2. Go to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Insider Program. Click Get Started.
3. Under Pick an account to get started, select + to connect the Microsoft account you registered with and continue.
4. Follow the instructions to choose the experience and channel you want to get Insider Preview builds through: the Dev channel (for developers), the beta channel (for early adopters) or the release preview channel (for those who want to get the latest version just before it’s generally released). Note that this build is coming to the Dev channel.
5. Review the Privacy Statement and terms, and click confirm. Click Restart Now.
6. After restarting, make sure your data settings are correct so you can download preview builds. To do this, go to Settings > Privacy > Diagnostics & feedback, and make sure the Optional Diagnostic Data switch is flipped to On.
7. Go to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update. Click the Check for updates button. You should see the latest Insider Preview build based on the settings you selected.
From there, your device should update the same way it would with any other Windows update, and you’ll be good to go.
How to download Windows 11, once it’s generally available.
Once Windows 11 becomes available to all Windows users this fall, you’ll download it the same way you would with any new version of Windows. Most users will go to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update, and click Check for Updates. If available, you’ll see Feature update to Windows 11. Click Download and install.
What’s the difference between Windows 10 and Windows 11?
Windows 11 has all the power and security of Windows 10 with a redesigned and refreshed look. It also comes with new tools, sounds, and apps. Every detail has been considered. All of it comes together to bring you a refreshing experience on your PC.
When can I buy a PC that comes with Windows 11 pre-installed?
PCs with Windows 11 pre-installed will be available later this year.
How much does a PC with Windows 11 cost?
It depends! Many different manufacturers will offer a variety of devices that will run Windows 11, all at different price points.
Where can I buy a PC with Windows 11?
PCs that come with Windows 11 pre-installed will be available from a broad selection of retailers later this year. Details to come.
Will my accessories work with Windows 11?
If your accessories worked with Windows 10 and meet the Windows 11 requirements, they should work with Windows 11. If you want to be sure, please check with your accessory manufacturer.
I want to buy a PC now, will I be able to install Windows 11 later?
Most Windows 10 PCs currently being sold will be able to upgrade to Windows 11. For the PC to be able to upgrade to Windows 11, it must meet the minimum hardware specifications and specific hardware is required for some features. The upgrade rollout plan is still being finalized but is scheduled to begin late in 2021 and continue into 2022. Specific timing will vary by device.
How do I know if a new Windows 10 PC meets the minimum requirements?
There are a few ways to find out. If you’re currently shopping for a new PC look for “Free upgrade to Windows 11” on the fact tag. You can also ask your retail sales professional to confirm.
When will I be able to upgrade to Windows 11 on my Windows 10 device?
If your existing Windows 10 PC is running the most current version of Windows 10 and meets the minimum hardware specifications it will be able to upgrade to Windows 11. The upgrade rollout plan is still being finalized, but for most devices already in use today, we expect it to be ready sometime in early 2022. Not all Windows 10 PCs that are eligible to upgrade to Windows 11 will be offered to upgrade at the same time. To see if your PC is eligible to upgrade, download and run the PC Health Check app. Once the upgrade rollout has started, you can check if it is ready for your device by going to Settings/Windows Updates.
What are the minimum hardware requirements for Windows 11?
The minimum hardware requirements are available here.
How do I know if my current Windows 10 PC meets the hardware requirements for Windows 11?
If you’d like to see if your current PC meets the minimum requirements, download and run the PC Health Check app.
What if my PC doesn’t meet the minimum hardware specifications? Can I stay on Windows 10?
Yes! Windows 10 continues to be a great version of Windows. Microsoft has committed to supporting Windows 10 through October 14, 2025.
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