- Windows 11 is finally official, and it features subtle visual tweaks and a few nifty features to deliver a better user experience.
- Redesigned Start, new widgets, all-new Chat app, revamped Microsoft Store, and the ability to run Android apps are some of the biggest highlights of Microsoft’s latest release.
- Windows 11 is slated to release to the public this holiday as a free upgrade for eligible Windows 10 PCs and new PCs.
Microsoft today unveiled Windows 11, officializing some of the details and features from a leaked ISO image last week.
Although the company previously announced that Windows 10 will be its final release and that it’ll switch to a bi-annual update cycle moving forward to deliver experience-improvement features to its users, it now appears to have changed its mind midcourse.
And with Windows 11, which mainly comprises subtle visual tweaks and a few nifty features thrown in here and there, it’s reverting to the annual update cycle to make it easier for its users to keep up with the changes.
Speaking of changes, the latest update brings along a handful of exciting updates for the users, covering everything from visual changes to additional features.
Windows 11: New and Exciting Features
Unlike a majority of major operating system updates, where companies usually undergo visual redesigns to give a new visual flair to their latest releases and cram in a bunch of features to expand its usability, Microsoft’s strategy for Windows 11 appears otherwise. Instead, it seems geared toward improving the overall experience for its users while also bringing in the much-requested changes from Windows 10.
Here’s a rundown of all such highlighting features of Windows 11 to get you excited for its release later this year.
1. Redesign to Improve Multitasking
If you’re a Windows 10 user, you’ll feel at home with Windows 11. Part of this is because the latest release builds upon Windows 10 and introduces subtle design tweaks to give a fresh look to the interface and improve the user experience.
One of the striking visual changes you’ll notice instantly on Windows 11 is that the Start button is now at the center of the taskbar. According to the company, this is to make it easier for users to find items on their PC. [If required, there’s an option to put it back to the left corner.]
Plus, Start is getting more powerful, thanks to the power of the cloud and Microsoft 365. So now, it’ll show you your recent files irrespective of the platform on which you’ve previously accessed them.
In terms of productivity improvements, Windows 11 revamps its multitasking capabilities. It introduces three new features: Snap Layouts, Snap Groups, and Desktops, which promise to help you multitask better and get more out of your screen real estate.
First, there’s Snap Layouts, which lets you arrange your app windows according to your preferences.
Snap Groups, on the other hand, allows you to group your apps together. In addition, if you’re using an external monitor, Snap Groups will remember the layout you’ve used on a monitor so you can switch back to it when you move back and forth between different monitors.
Lastly, there are Desktops, which lets you create separate desktops/workspaces for different parts of your life to help you isolate your work and gaming/personal apps into individual workspaces.
2. Communication Improvements with Chat
With Windows 11, Microsoft is also introducing new modes of communication on the platform. As part of this release, it’s launching an all-new communication app called Chat that’s integrated right into the taskbar and allows you to instantly connect with your contacts over text, chat, voice, or video — irrespective of the platform they’re on.
In case, however, if the person you’re contacting doesn’t have the Teams app installed on their device, you can still connect with them via two-way SMS.
Besides Teams, Microsoft has also finally addressed one of the most annoying problems on Windows: struggling to find the mute button. The latest release puts a universal microphone button onto the system tray to make it accessible at all times across any app.
3. Widgets to Deliver Personalized Information
Microsoft is betting huge on Widgets in Windows 11 and aims to leverage it to serve more personalized content (news and information) to its users. For this, it’s bringing an all-new widgets layout where you can see the latest news and weather updates with the click of a button.
Taking this a step further, the company is also employing a transparent, glass-like tile/overlay for these widgets to give you an uninterrupted view of what’s running on your desktop on the fly.
4. All-new and Extensive Microsoft Store on Windows 11
One of the most significant overhauls to Windows 11 arrives on the Microsoft Store, as the company introduces an all-new design and brings more content and apps to the platform. The all-new design appears to be clean, modern, and easier to navigate than its current counterpart. Additionally, it’s also said to improve the search and discovery experience for the users.
A few apps slated to debut on the Microsoft Store include Microsoft Teams, Visual Studio, Disney+, Adobe Creative Cloud, and Zoom. So now, you can download these (and many more) apps directly from the Store without worrying about their integrity.
5. Ability to Run Android Apps on Windows 11
Alongside an all-new Microsoft Store that’ll feature new apps and content, Microsoft brings Android apps to Windows 11. When it goes live later this year, you’ll be able to discover Android apps right within the Microsoft Store and download them through the Amazon Appstore.
To facilitate this functionality, the company is integrating Amazon Appstore into the Microsoft Store and partnering with Intel to use its Bridge technology to run Android apps on Windows 11. The Intel Bridge technology is essentially a runtime post-compiler that’s designed to allow the running of apps developed for other hardware platforms to run on x86-based devices.
6. Promising a Better Gaming Experience
Microsoft is also finally focussing on improving the gaming experience on Windows 11. The latest release promises to get more out of your hardware and puts the latest technology, DirectX 12 Ultimate, to power your gaming experience with immersive graphics at higher frame rates.
Similarly, it also brings DirectStorage to deliver faster load times and add support for more gaming peripherals; and Auto HDR for a wider and more vivid color spectrum to facilitate a more detailed gaming world to the users.
Another exciting addition to Windows 11 is the Game Pass that now comes built into the system and gives you access to a bigger library (100+) of PC games across different genres. Some of these releases slated for a release later this year include Halo Infinite, Age of Empires IV, Twelve Minutes, and more.
7. Improved User Experience on Tablets
With Windows 11, Microsoft is also bringing improvements to the way the operating system works on tablets to facilitate a better (touch) user experience.
One of the most notable improvements in this regard is the increase in space between the taskbar icons, which offers a bigger touch target to improve touch accuracy and prevent accidental touches. Similarly, the latest release also introduces new gestures to make it easier to resize and move windows across the display.
Besides these changes, Microsoft has two more useful additions to Windows 11 for touch devices: haptics and voice typing. The company aims to offer you a more immersive experience when you use a (stylus) pen to draw or write on your tablet with haptics. On the other hand, the voice typing feature promises to offer a more understanding dictation experience: one where it can automatically add punctuations to your speech.
Windows 11: Availability
Microsoft plans on releasing Windows 11 to the public this holiday as a free upgrade for eligible Windows 10 PCs and new PCs. It has also released a compatibility check tool to help interested users identify if their machine is eligible for the Windows 11 free upgrade and meets the minimum system requirements.