Officially in October 2021. The rollout is almost complete, and new features are being added regularly.
- > What is Windows 11 like?
- > Windows 11 trailers
- > When did Windows 11 come out?
- What are the new features of Windows 11?
- What does Windows 11 cost?
- > Upcoming Windows 11 features
- Wasn’t Windows 10 the ‘last ever’ version of Windows?
- > Tech Advisor’s guide for Windows 11
- > Can my laptop or PC run Windows 11?
The likelihood that Microsoft would release a successor to Windows 10 any time soon appeared very low at the beginning of 2021. This was the case until May when Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, began discussing openly “the next generation” of Windows.
The speculation surrounding Windows 11 quickly exploded, especially after Microsoft announced a 24 June event. Microsoft had some surprises in store, though a preview version was leaked before the official unveiling.
Members of the Windows Insider Program were able to access early builds shortly after. Microsoft then confirmed a release date 5 Oct 2021.
The company explained this in a blog post. However, not all eligible devices were updated immediately. Microsoft has slowed down availability to meet demand. Newer hardware will be prioritized. There is an easy way to get Windows 11 for compatible devices.
Microsoft released new Surface hardware at the same time as Windows 11. The Surface Pro8, Surface Notebook Studio, and Surface Go3 were among the first to get the new OS. There are many alternatives available within a matter of months.
Here’s all you need to know about Windows 11.
What is Windows 11 like?
Microsoft did not want to upset millions of people by making drastic changes, as it did with Windows 8, but has maintained the basic layout with significant redesigns. There will be rounded corners everywhere and a centrally placed Start Menu. However, you can always return it to the side.
A new widgets panel can display the weather, stocks and news – replacing the old Start menu’s live tiles. It also features improved grouping and snapping open Windows, so that you can concentrate more on what you are trying to do.
Windows 11 tablets are much better thanks to gestures and an on-screen keyboard that is more like the one you use on your phone. Amazon Appstore allows you to download and install Android apps. However, this feature is just beginning to be available.
Windows 11 is a visual upgrade that offers many visual improvements, but it should be easy for most users to switch from Windows 10.
When did Windows 11 come out?
- Initial release date: 5 Oct 2021
- All eligible Windows 10 PCs will soon be eligible for a free upgrade
- Download Insider Preview Builds now.
Microsoft had confirmed that Windows 11 would be released on 5, October 2021, as Microsoft previously stated.
OEMs (original equipment makers) will be able to begin releasing Windows 11 hardware on the actual date. Blog post stated in part that eligible devices will be offered the upgrade later, as part of a gradual and measured approach.
The official Twitter tweet from Windows Twitter confirmed that Windows 10 users will have to wait until 2022 for the upgrade.
An official blog posting from January 2022 confirmed this to be ahead of schedule. All compatible devices should be updated soon, as Windows 11 has entered “its final phase” of availability.
It doesn’t mean you have to wait for it to arrive on your computer. You can download the final version from the Microsoft website if you prefer to manually install it. You can find out more about how to download Windows 11 now . If you’re looking to install Windows 11 using a USB, this ISO file is the best option.
How much does Windows 11 cost?
- All eligible PCs are free
- Pricing for new hardware is dependent on the manufacturer
- Versions USB available starting at PS128.99/$139
Pricing was always going to be a big question, but the good news about it is that it is completely free for all eligible PCs. This will continue for as long as Windows 11 is in existence.
It’s not so simple. All Windows 10 devices will get Windows 11 – Microsoft has updated its hardware requirements.
Windows 11 is not just about upgrading to Windows 10. Many new PCs and laptops already run the operating system from the box. There are many more. It doesn’t appear that Windows 11 preinstalled has impacted the price.
You can now purchase Windows 11 standalone. For the most popular Home version, you can buy pre-loaded USB sticks for PS104.48/ £139. You can get the disc version at Amazon UK for PS128.99.
Reiterating this point is important, especially since Windows 10 offers a free upgrade.
Windows 10 wasn’t the “last ever” version of Windows?
Microsoft stated that when it launched Windows 10, yes. However, it seems to have changed its mind. These changes could have been included in Windows 10’s update. However, the company chose to not refer to it during the launch event. This may be because it hopes its customers have short memories.
This was a reference that Microsoft made at its April 2022 hybrid working event. The company said that the pandemic was the main driver of the change in strategy and added that “how, where, and when we work fundamentally changed overnight”.
After using Windows 11 for a while, it became clear has not changed much below the surface.
Can my laptop or current computer run Windows 11 on Windows 11?
These are the minimum hardware requirements to run Windows 11:
- 1GHz dual-core processor
- 4GB RAM
- 64GB storage
- Secure Boot, UEFI capable
- Trusted Platform Module (TPM) 2.0
- DirectX 12 compatible graphics card
- Displays larger than 9in with 720p resolution or higher
- Microsoft account + Internet connection
Are you unsure if your device supports the new version? Microsoft has updated its ‘PC Health Check app’ to make it easier for you to check. It can be downloaded from the main Windows11 page.
For more information, check out our separate guide: Windows 11 can still be installed on non-supported computers. You’ll likely see messages in Settings and on your desktop advising you that your device may not be compatible. However, it doesn’t appear to impact performance or app compatibility.
Windows 11 trailers
Two key trailers for Windows 11 are well worth the effort. The official introduction video for Windows 11 is available starting on 24 June.
A shorter, advert-style trailer was then released starting 9 September. A shorter version may have been shown on TV.
What are the new features of Windows 11?
There are many more to mention, but these are the most important ones.
The first is a major visual overhaul. Windows 10 will have a new look and feel. Windows 10’s design has been consistent throughout its history.
The new taskbar places icons in the centre of the screen, but it is possible to change this to a more traditional layout. Some functionality that Microsoft removed from Windows 10 cannot be modified, but Microsoft is working to correct this. With the February 2022 update, the date and time will be displayed on all external screens. Drag-and-drop functionality is expected to return with the 22H2 feature upgrade.
Although the brand-new Start Menu doesn’t seem to be lacking in any way, its new design is not for everyone. This design is very similar to the one Microsoft teased for its Windows 10X. This is what it looks like when dark mode is enabled.
It has a grid of customizable ‘Pinned” icons and separate ‘All Apps’ sections for all other installed apps. Below, the ‘Recommended heading’ displays recent used files, apps, and folders – even if they are from Microsoft 365 and OneDrive – allowing you to quickly pick up where your last device left off.
Many people were disappointed by this, particularly the inability to customize. Microsoft has since made it possible to choose between Recommended and Pinned sections. Below are official screenshots that will give you an idea of how it looks.
Snap Layouts multitasking functionality is a new feature that has been well received. As you can see, hovering over the maximize button will allow you to change the order of the apps on your screen.
Recent Windows versions have not had widgets as a main feature, but this is changing now. You can customize the panel to cover the entire screen by moving it from the left. This panel is designed to provide quick access to important information, but not distract you from what you are doing.
Windows 11 integrates chat and teams, with future updates allowing for you to share windows as well as toggle mute from the taskbar.
Teams integration now extends into Edge browser. This means that individual tabs will now appear in Task Manager. The GPU and crashpad data are also shown. The site, icon, and topic names will be displayed on tabs in the taskbar. However, this icon is removed during private browsing sessions.
Many stock apps, such as File Explorer and Microsoft Store, have undergone a redesign. This includes Android app support via Amazon Appstore. However, Epic Games Store is also available. Although there is no indication that the Google Play Store will be available on Windows 11, allows you to use it.
Google also has a dedicated Play Store Games app. It is expected that this app will be compatible with Windows 11 or Windows 10, and it will be released sometime in 2022.
As shown below by Panos Panay, Microsoft’s Panos Panay, the stock Photos app has been redesigned.
Windows 11 has a new Action Center that separates Quick Settings, Notifications, and a music controller. Its design is inspired by Windows 10X. This makes it easy to navigate with touchpad, mouse or pen.
Windows 11 has a new Snipping tool. It replaces Windows 10’s Snip & Sketch but provides a lot more functionality that the legacy Snipping Tool on older versions of Windows.
Many stock apps have been updated to better match Windows 11’s design. These include Calculator and Clock, Notepad, Media Player, File Explorer, Calculator, Clock and Notepad. The latter is shown below.
Windows 11 has a new startup sound. Take a look at the five second clip below.
We finally have a volume indicator that is updated nine years after the original version was released. Here are some things you can expect.
This was designed to match the rest of Windows 11’s UI. You can choose between dark and light modes. The same sliders will appear when you change the brightness using the keyboard shortcuts. This update also includes a new call window for the Your Phone companion app, additional keyboard themes, and the ability to uninstall it.
Although the integration with Microsoft Teams has been mixed reviews, it is now available for Edge browser. Individual tabs will now appear in Task Manager with GPU and crashpad data. The site, icon, and topic names will be displayed on tabs in the taskbar. However, this icon is removed during private browsing sessions.
Versions of Task Manager available since February 2022 include an ‘Eco mode. This mode allows you to assign more resources to certain apps by setting their priority to ‘low’. This prevents resource-intensive apps, such as those that use a lot of CPU and GPU power, from draining too much. This should improve battery life and performance.
Windows 11’s Dynamic Rate feature is available elsewhere. This feature allows panels with a refresh rate above 60Hz on compatible devices, including Microsoft’s Surface Pro8 and Surface Laptop Studio. It adjusts the refresh rate based on what you are doing. This prevents unnecessary power waste.
Windows 11’s first major update arrived in February 2022 and included several new features. These include new functionality in the taskbar, a redesigned Notepad app and Media Player apps, and native Android app support. The latter, however, requires at least 8GB RAM and an SSD. This is stricter than Windows 11.
Microsoft made it harder to modify the default browser after it launched Windows 11. However, the company reversed this decision in March 2022. Version KB50011563 will include a setting in Settings that allows you to choose a browser to be your default browser for HTTP, HTTPS and.HTM files. You’ll need to modify the location of PDF files separately.
These updates are 40% smaller than Windows 10, and run in the background. This means they won’t disrupt your work. Windows 11 is also less power-intensive, which should improve battery life. This means that it consumes less power, which should mean your laptop will last longer.
Windows 11 Features Coming Soon
Microsoft initially stated Windows 11 would switch to annual feature updates. However, it has become clear that the OS is going to get new features throughout the year. Numerous new features have been added to Windows 11 since its launch. More are on the horizon.
Many of these may be included in the 22H2 update as Windows Central reports. These are allegedly the following, with all new functionality being available for testing soon:
- Start app folders
- Drag and Drop on Taskbar
- Improvements to Quick Settings/Notification Center
- File Explorer allows you to pin files
- Acrylic title bars – This is something Windows New is also reporting
- Snap Bar snapping
- UX Gestures to Start/Quick Settings Using Touch
- Live captions now available
Microsoft released Preview Build 22567 in March 2022. It includes new features. Among them are new touchscreen gestures, accessibility-focused voice commands and a redesigned ‘Open with’ dialog box. Zac Bowden, Windows Central’s Twitter account, seems to confirm that they will be in the 22H2 update.
The February 2022 Insider build contained several disabled features, which suggests that they might be added in a future upgrade. You can hide the taskbar on Windows 11 tablets, enable sustainability mode in Settings and pin stickers to your desktop wallpaper. Focus Assist, formerly known as “Focus”, will get some new features. Priority notification sessions will also be easier to access.
Microsoft revealed that it was “reimagining” many of Windows 11’s pre-installed tools and apps in May 2022. There are updates to Photos, Notepad and Media Player as well as the Calculator, Paint, Paint, and Snipping tool. Sound Recorder’s update is currently being tested. It includes a new waveform view as well as support for changing the recording device/file format within it. Here is a preview of what it will look like:
Windows 11 is a well-known OS for gaming. Microsoft has added a feature to the Windows Insider Program. The Xbox controller can be connected to your computer and pressed the Xbox button. This will open a new “controller bar”, which allows you to quickly switch between games or launchers. This is how it will look:
If a early build is any indication, it looks like a web-search bar will be available on the desktop. Microsoft claims it’s only the beginning of many such features, but it will only work with Edge browser. This means that it will override any default browser settings you have. This is not clear as the search function in the taskbar will combine Edge results with locally saved files.
Microsoft is still working to improve the Widgets panel it introduced with Windows 11. FireCube, a Twitter user, believes that third-party apps will soon be supported by the Microsoft Store based on screenshots taken from the Microsoft Store.
Since then, Microsoft has confirmed that the feature will be available in Windows 11 “later in this year”. The Verge reports that Panos Panay, the head of devices and Windows, announced the feature during Microsoft’s Build conference in May 2022. A companion app for Windows will be required for any third-party widgets.
Microsoft has made it easier for you to transfer your apps to a new computer, as the Microsoft Store continues to gain popularity. In a blog posting, Microsoft announced that Windows 11 will soon allow you to restore apps from another device with the same Microsoft account. This is also a way for developers and customers to stay loyal when they switch.
Microsoft is also working to improve the Windows Subsystem on Android. This is where Android apps are built. Microsoft also announced that it will be updated to Android 12.1 or Android 12L in a blog. The current version of the software is believed to be built on Android 11. These updates will make Android apps feel more at ease on Windows desktops, with full integration of notification and permission tools.
Highlighted upgrades include instant resumption when your computer wakes up (rather that restarting) as well as a revamped Windows Subsystem settings menu. Smart home tech can now be managed from your desktop using the Android app, provided that it is available in the Microsoft Store.
There is an alternative. You can download Google Play Store applications.
It is not yet clear whether we will see all of these features in Windows 11’s next major upgrade. That’s expected to happen in the coming months. Here’s all we know so far about the 22H2 update.
On episode 85 of Fast Charge our weekly podcast, we discussed Windows 11 in depth.
There are many more places where all this came from. Tech Advisor will continue to provide Windows 11 coverage in the coming weeks, months.
Microsoft prioritizes accessibility in Windows 11. The Surface Adaptive Kit makes it easier for any laptop to use. While the new Adaptive Accessory helps people who can’t use a traditional keyboard and mouse, the Adaptive Accessories make it even more accessible. These tools are a great combination.
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