Microsoft has officially announced that its latest operating system is called Windows 11. The new operating system comes with many changes that include a new and polished user interface, enhanced multitasking capabilities, changes in the Windows Store, performance, a new Start menu, and more.
One of the most talked-about features is the new Start menu that is located in the middle of the taskbar. While this may not be something most users will like, the good news is that the start menu and apps can be shifted to the left. However the expanded menu is also new and if you wish to change to the classic mode, it can be easily changed through the registry. That said, the new Start UI looks similar to the canceled Windows 10X project, which was supposed to be deployed on dual-screen devices.
Microsoft does mention that the new Start menu does show pinned applications as well as files that have been opened recently. Even the Start button gets a new logo. The Start button and the pinned apps on the taskbar show a small animation when clicked. You can also see that Microsoft took some cues from the Chrome OS and Mac OS to update the app icons with rounded corners. The interesting part is that Microsoft completely removed the Live Tiles that were used on Windows 10 and goes uses the traditional launcher design found in most smartphones.
One of the best features highlighted in Windows 11 is none other than the Snap Layouts. While users were able to divide windows folders and browsers and use them at the same time on a single display, it required to go through different steps that were time-consuming and sometimes frustrating. With Snap Layouts, you get different options of layouts to choose from and to quickly snap your favorite apps. The best part is that Windows 11 will remember the layout that you had set up and it is possible with the help of Snap Group.
This can be very useful in case Windows 11 restarts due to an update, or you had to turn off your PC and come back later. Snap Groups will also work when you connect a Windows 11 powered laptop to an external monitor. And when the situation comes where you had to disconnect and reconnect later with the monitor, Windows 11 will remember the layout you had used before. Snap Layouts can be easily accessed from any Windows folder menu or browser menu when pointing it on the minimize/maximize button.
Another big leap is the integration of Microsoft Teams on Windows 11. Teams can be directly accessed from the taskbar, allowing both consumers and business users to access the platform and call family members, friends, or co-workers. Microsoft also introduces Windows Widgets, a new AI-powered feed that can be personalized to include information such as news feeds, weather, and map access. Widgets can be accessed by sliding from the left side of Windows 11. This kind of resembles how Google provides feeds on Android OS.
Speaking of which, one of the biggest changes is that the new Microsoft Store now allows users to install Android apps directly and run natively on Windows 11. Microsoft also mentions that Android apps can also be pinned on the taskbar, just as any other Windows app. Microsoft uses the Amazon Appstore via Microsoft Store to offer Android apps on Windows. The newly designed Windows Store will also include a lot of new applications such as Adobe Creative Suite, and also popular Android applications such as TikTok and Instagram. No more will users need to install dedicated Android-emulating programs to try Android apps on Windows.
Microsoft also mentioned that Windows 11 is also well-designed for tablets and the OS simply optimizes itself for touch devices without the need of the user to activate any sort of tablet mode. Inking and voice typing experiences have also improved and Windows 11 also brings haptic feedback for some pens. We should also mention that Windows 11 now has a startup sound, something many users have missed while using Windows 10. Even the notification sounds and the tones that appear when accepting access control permissions have also changed.
Microsoft also mentioned that users will be able to create different desktops that have their own wallpapers. You will be able to create different desktops such as one for work, one for school or education, one for entertainment, another for gaming, and so on. And when it comes to gaming, Microsoft mentions that they have carried over the Auto HDR mode from the Xbox Series X and S to the Windows 11 OS. The new Auto HDR mode will automatically add HDR for most DirectX 11 and DirectX 12 games when you use a compatible HDR monitor. This is a big change when it comes to PC gaming.
Windows 11 will also feature DirectStorage API that helps to speed up the loading performance of games. However, it’s up to the developer to enhance the load speeds using this API and gamers will require to use the latest generation of NVMe drives. Microsoft also mentioned that Windows 11 will also come with Xbox Game Pass integration, along with xCloud that lets gamers stream games from Microsoft’s cloud service. This is something that was only seen integrated on Xbox consoles. Gamers will be able to get access through a large library of Xbox games, including the ones from Bethesda.
While Microsoft has not yet stated a definitive release date, the company has confirmed that Windows 11 will be available as a free update for all Windows 10 users later this year.