With Windows 11, Microsoft realized that Windows should be a powerful desktop operating system. From enhanced multi-window multitasking and better multi-monitor support, improvements to PC gaming, and a store with traditional Win32 desktop apps, Microsoft is embracing reality. of the PC and improves it.

When will Windows 11 be released?

Microsoft said Windows 11 will begin arriving during the 2021 holiday season, which is towards the end of the year.

“Qualifying Windows 10 PCs” will get a free upgrade to Windows 11 from late 2021 through 2022 – this will be a phased rollout.

Will my PC be running Windows 11?

However, not all Windows 10 PCs will get Windows 11. While Windows 10 had broad backward compatibility dating back to Windows 7 PCs, the system requirements for Windows 11 are much more stringent. You will need a PC with UEFI Firmware This is Secure boot capable and version 2.0 TPM chip, for example. You will also need a “compatible 64-bit processor or system on a chip (SoC)”. 32-bit PCs are out of luck, although even many 64-bit PCs will not receive the update.

AT check if your PC will get Windows 11, download and run Microsoft’s PC Health Check app. If you have disabled Secure Boot or TPM in your PC’s UEFI firmware settings, you may need to re-enable it before the tool says your PC is compatible.

Microsoft says it will continue to support Windows 10 until October 14, 2025, so you can stay on Windows 10 even if your PC won’t receive the update.

How to download Windows 11 preview

According to Microsoft, Windows 11 Insider Preview versions will be available from the week of June 28, 2021.

If Microsoft’s PC Health Check app says your PC supports preview, you can get it from Microsoft at that time. You’ll have to join Microsoft’s Windows Insider program (it’s free) to get it. We recommend that you avoid installing it on your main PC, as it will likely be a bit unstable.

A new Start menu, in the center

The new Windows 11 Start menu.
Microsoft

Windows 11 has a new, simplified Start menu. Live tiles are gone, replaced with a list of recent apps and files icons. Documents that you edit in Office apps on other devices, even devices that aren’t running Windows, will also appear as recent files, thanks to Microsoft 365.

The taskbar icons, including the Start menu, have also been moved to the center of the taskbar. Microsoft’s Panos Panay said: “We put Start in the center, you are in the center. “

The good news is that you can move the icons to the left side of the taskbar if you want to, at least for now.

Powerful multi-window and multi-screen features

The Snap Layouts pop-up window on Windows 11.
Microsoft

Where Windows 8 was all about having a huge app on a big PC screen, Windows 11 is all about using multiple windows. Microsoft embraces productivity and improves Break. There is a “Snap Layouts” feature to quickly organize the apps on your screen. Just hover your mouse over a window’s “Maximize” button and you can easily choose a screen region for it.

Windows will also remember where you place your apps with “Snap Groups”. You can quickly click a single taskbar icon to view a group of captured apps. Additionally, when using Windows 11 on a tablet, side-by-side windows automatically stack on top of each other when you change the orientation of the device.

Several monitors are also improving, with a “new docking and undocking experience”. When you unplug a monitor, the monitor windows minimize instead of getting in your way. When you reconnect the monitor, Windows automatically restores the windows to their original position on that monitor.

Faster updates and one big update per year

Microsoft says Windows 11 will be better for updates. Updates will be 40% smaller and run in the background, much like a Chromebook.

Better yet, Microsoft is moving to a schedule of one big update per year. With Windows 10, Microsoft pushed two big updates a year, a process that has led to some huge bugs– and just general disturbances while you wait for your PC to update before you can use it.

Microsoft is now aligning its schedule with other operating systems like Google’s Android, Apple’s macOS, and Apple’s iOS and iPadOS, all of which get one big update per year, not two.

Maybe Microsoft finally realizes that Windows is not a service; it is an operating system.

A new store with desktop apps

The new Windows 11 Store app.
Microsoft

With Windows 11’s new Microsoft Store, Microsoft is finally doing what it should have done by launching Windows 8 with the first Windows Store.

The new Store will be “your one-stop-shop for apps”. Developers can offer traditional Win32 desktop apps in the Store alongside Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps and Progress Web App (PWA) applications. The applications can also be found in any other application framework that works on Windows.

Microsoft will allow developers to use their own business functions in these applications and keep 100% of the revenue. In other words, Valve could distribute Steam through the Microsoft Store and not have to pay Microsoft a dime extra.

Imagine getting all the apps you use, from Google Chrome to Steam, from the Store, which speeds up the installation of all the apps you use. Each app wouldn’t need its own unique updater to slow down your PC. That’s what Microsoft could have given us with Windows 8, of course, but it could finally happen with Windows 11. Nine years late is better than nothing.

The store has also been redesigned. It also offers TV shows and movies. But, more importantly, Microsoft says it was rebuilt for speed – in other words, even Microsoft agrees the old store was too slow.

Android apps are coming to Windows 11

Android apps from the Amazon Appstore in the Microsoft Store
Microsoft

Microsoft was working on support for Android apps before Windows 10 was released, but the company scrapped the project. Now support for Android apps will be available on Windows 11.

What changed? Well, Apple has activated IPhone apps on Mac with Big Sur, so maybe that changed Microsoft’s opinion.

You will be able to get Android apps through the Microsoft Store and run them on your PC. Microsoft does this in partnership with the Amazon Appstore, although the apps are distributed through the standard Microsoft Store app. Microsoft says it uses “Intel Bridge technology” to enable this.

Widgets and teams in the taskbar

Widgets on a Windows 11 desktop.
Microsoft

The taskbar also has a Widgets button. In the leaked version of Windows 11, it was disappointing – just a famous version of the News and interests widget which was added to Windows 10.

In the final version of Windows 11, you’ll be able to add widgets from other apps to it, making it a truly customizable interface and not just a panel for Microsoft to send you Bing news links.

The Microsoft Teams Chat pop-up window on Windows 11.
Microsoft

Microsoft also integrates Microsoft Teams into the taskbar. You can use the Chat feature to have text conversations and video calls with people. Microsoft Teams is widely known as a business communication tool, but Microsoft wants to extend it to everyone, probably because Skype is not doing very well under Microsoft ownership.

PC gaming improvements

Comparison of Standard SDR and Auto HDR in Skyrim on a Windows 11 PC.
Microsoft

Microsoft talked about some gaming features that already exist, like DirectX 12 Ultimate and Xbox Game Pass for PC, which offers unlimited access to a library of PC games for a monthly subscription.

But there are new things here. Two features of the Xbox x series make their way to the PC.

The first is Auto HDR, which will help “over 1000” games from the previous generation look better by automatically activating HDR. Without this feature, only games designed to support HDR would use HDR on an HDR capable display. Microsoft showed it in Skyrim, where he made the colors much more vivid and vibrant.

The second is DirectStorage. Some Windows 11 PCs will be “Optimized for Direct Storage” – they will need a NVMe SSD and appropriate drivers. On these PCs, games can quickly load data from system storage directly to the graphics card without straining the processor. Like on Xbox, it should speed up game load times and allow faster loading of resources while playing the game.

A smart upgrade

Windows 11 looks pretty good so far! It’s also full of other smart changes. For example, Cortana is removed from the PC setup experience, which will no doubt appeal to many system administrators.

When our biggest complaint is that we’re not sure we want the Start button in the middle of the taskbar, something you can change with just a few clicks, that’s pretty impressive.

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