Windows 10, released in 2015, was supposed to be the last version of Microsoft’s operating system—but it won’t be. The company has just unveiled the next generation of Windows, calling it Windows 11. Here’s everything you need to know right now.
What’s New in Windows 11?
Windows 11 brings many cosmetic and under-the-hood changes and improvements to make users’ lives easier when working or relaxing.
Anyone who upgrades to Windows 11 from Windows 10 will immediately notice the completely redesigned user interface.
“From the new Start button and taskbar to each sound, font, and icon, everything was done intentionally to put you in control and bring a sense of calm and ease,” explains Microsoft on its website.
Applications, as well as pop-up windows and many other UI elements, now have round corners, the Taskbar is centered, and all icons have been modernized and flattened.
Not all user interface changes all cosmetic, however. For example, Windows 11 brings Snap Layouts, Snap Groups, and Desktops to give users more control over their applications, making it easy to take full advantage of available screen real estate.
Microsoft Teams, the popular business communication platform, is now integrated directly into the Windows 11 taskbar, which means that users can, for example, instantly mute and unmute conversations.
Apps and Widgets
The new version of Windows brings a brand-new Microsoft Store. Microsoft has rebuilt the essential app from scratch to improve its performance and usability. The Windows 11 version of Microsoft Stores supports all kinds of apps, including PWA, UWP, and Win32 formats.
Users will also be able to use Microsoft Store to discover Android apps and install them through the Amazon Appstore. The support for Android apps has been made possible by Intel Bridge Technology, which works across x86 processors, including those made by AMD.
Widgets from Widows 7 are kind of making a comeback with the addition of a dedicated widget panel. The panel will slide from the left side of the screen and let users add their preferred widgets for instant access to important information.
Performance and Security
Windows 11 promises the same or better performance as Windows 10, so any computer that’s currently capable of running Windows 10 without major issues shouldn’t find the new version to be too much of a struggle to run, as long as Microsoft actually lets you upgrade (more about that later in this article).
Thanks to new built-in security technologies that add protection from the chip to the cloud, Windows 11 is supposed to be a boon to remote workers and their office-bound counterparts alike, providing a Zero Trust-ready operating system to protect data and access across devices. Microsoft has worked hand-in-hand with its hardware partners to prevent vulnerabilities like Meltdown and Spectre, but only time will tell if its efforts have been successful.
When Will I Be Able to Upgrade to Windows 11?
According to Microsoft, the upgrade rollout plan is still being finalized, but most users should be able to upgrade their PCs sometime in early 2022 as long as they meet the minimum hardware specifications.
|Windows 11 hardware specification|
|Processor||1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster with 2 or more cores on a compatible 64-bit processor or System on a Chip (SoC)|
|Graphics card||DirectX 12 compatible graphics / WDDM 2.x|
|Memory||4 GB RAM|
|Storage||64 GB or larger storage device|
|TPM||Trusted Platform Module (TPM) version 2.0|
The TPM requirement is bad news for many desktop users because not every motherboard is equipped with a TPM module. What’s even more alarming is that the official AMD and Intel CPU compatibility lists don’t include CPUs older than Intel 8th Gen Core and AMD Ryzen 2000 series.
Of course, nothing is written in stone just yet, and it’s entirely possible that Windows 11 will run just fine even on older machines (perhaps with a warning message during installation), but we can neither confirm nor deny that.
If you’re interested to see if your computer is eligible to run Windows 11, then you can download and run the PC Health Check app.