Windows 11 brings a fresh and simple design to users along with several new features, including a cleaner Start menu; UI, productivity and performance improvements; new app store with access to Android apps; and game improvement.
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Windows 11, the latest operating system (OS) from Microsoft, is finally here. The software giant unveiled the new OS at a virtual event on Thursday. Windows 11 brings a fresh and simple design to users along with several new features, including a cleaner Start menu and taskbar; user interface (UI), productivity and performance improvements; new app store with access to Android apps; and game improvement.
“This is the first version of the new era of Windows. We are building for the next decade and beyond,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, during the launch event.
Let’s start with the all-new Start menu. It is located in the middle of the taskbar and can be accessed by clicking the new Start button. The Start menu immediately presents the new, simpler design of the OS with most of the top section dedicated to pinned apps and the bottom showing recommended files and apps. There is a search bar at the top of the menu that can be used to search for devices, as well as the web. With live tiles and other elements removed, the Start menu looks basically cleaner and offers the things users need to get started. In addition, Start is supported by the cloud and Microsoft 365, which makes it possible to show recent files in the menu, even if they are accessed on different devices or platforms.
The UI of Windows 11 is visually pleasing with various elements such as colors, transparency, transitions, and rounded corners throughout the OS. Plus, light and dark modes, along with new wallpapers and themes offer further customization options.
Windows 11’s transparency element also helps to seamlessly blend Widgets with everything else the user is working on. The new Widget layout, slides out like a “sheet of glass”, to offer users a personalized feed powered by artificial intelligence. While working or otherwise, using the Widget, users can glance at their calendar, check the weather forecast, glance at the headlines, or track the stock market.
“For creators and publishers, Widgets also unlocks new real estate within Windows to deliver personalized content,” said Microsoft CPO Panos Panay.
To increase productivity, Windows 11 includes features like Snap Layouts, Snap Groups, and Desktops. Snap Layouts brings different layout options when working with multiple apps at the same time, and quickly arranges apps side by side on the screen to help with multitasking. Snap groups are collections of apps that users use, which can be accessed together quickly, even after a break, right from the taskbar. Additionally, Desktops can now be customized with individual wallpapers, and users can create multiple Desktops for work, entertainment, or gaming with different sets of applications to keep them organized. The OS also offers a new easier docking and undocking experience for multiscreen users.
“With Windows 11, we’re making it faster and easier to get started, organize, and get back to what you’re doing, all so you can be your most productive and creative,” Carmen Zlateff, Partner Director, Windows Management Program at Microsoft, said. .
The software giant’s popular communications platform, Teams, which has grown significantly in the last year and has 145 million daily active users, is now integrated into Windows 11. This means that users will be able to access Team Chats from the taskbar to connect with them. friends and family via chat, voice or video calls.
Windows 11 also promises performance improvements such as Windows Hello and a faster web browsing experience, better wake times and battery life, and 40% smaller Windows updates with better efficiency. Microsoft also claims Windows 11 is the most secure Windows.
The new OS also improves the experience on touch-based devices with more space between icons on the taskbar, larger touch targets, and smooth visual cues to make resizing and moving windows easier. In addition, gestures such as the new trackpad will help users perform different tasks with ease. And, with improvements in voice typing, and new keyboard options, users can get a more engaging touchscreen experience.
New Microsoft Store
The software company introduced a new Microsoft Store as a single destination for apps, games, and media content such as movies and TV on Windows 11. The store will feature in-house and third-party apps such as Visual Studio, Disney+, Adobe Creative Cloud, Zoom and Canva. Additionally, Windows users will be able to browse Android apps in the store and download them via the Amazon Appstore. To bring the Android experience into the new OS, Microsoft is joining forces with Amazon, as well as Intel, to use its Intel Bridge technology.
Last month, at the annual developer conference, the head of Microsoft had mentioned opening up greater economic opportunities for developers and creators. And the company does so by allowing independent software developers and vendors to carry their applications regardless of application framework and packaging technology. Further, app developers will also have the option to bring their own or third-party trading platforms in their apps, allowing them to retain 100% of their revenue, he said.
Microsoft promises to deliver the best PC gaming experience with Windows 11. The OS will feature technologies to improve graphics performance such as Auto HDR, enabling supported games to render a much wider range of brightness and color, for an engaging visual experience, and DirectX 12 Ultimate can provides immersive graphics at high frame rates. Windows 11 will also support DirectStorage technology with select hardware and drivers, for faster load times and more detailed game worlds.
Additionally, the Xbox App is now integrated with Windows 11, providing easier access to Game Pass, where users will be able to browse and play over 100 PC games of different genres. In addition, with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, users can enjoy Xbox Cloud Gaming on their Windows PC via a browser, and with cross-play and cross-save they can play these games seamlessly across devices.
“Games have always been the basis of everything Windows is about. We built Windows to be a magical place where everyone can play, connect and create,” said Sarah Bond, CVP, Microsoft Gaming.
Free for Windows 10 users?
Windows 11 will be available via a free upgrade for eligible Windows 10 PCs and on new PCs later this year, according to Microsoft. Windows 10 users can check if their device is eligible for the free upgrade, by going to Windows.com to download the PC Health Check app.
Microsoft has provided minimum system requirements for Windows 11, which include a 64-bit processor or SOC (1 GHz or faster with 2 cores or more), 4GB RAM, and 64GB or greater storage device. Detailed system requirements are also available for certain features that require specific hardware.
Microsoft says it will start distributing early versions of Windows 11 to the Windows Insider Program next week.