At the recent Sun Valley Event, Microsoft unveiled the most major Windows update in six years. The new Windows 11 will come with lots of aesthetic changes and features designed to increase your productivity, enhance your gaming, and more. Here’s everything you need to know about Windows 11, including the best new features, release date, and how to tell if your computer is compatible with the new operating system.
Windows 11 Redesigned
One of the first things that you’ll notice about Windows 11 is the new design. Panos Panay, Chief Product Officer at Microsoft, began the event by explaining how the new design changes are meant to “bring you an incredible sense of calm.”
Unlike the previous operating system, Windows 11 has rounded corners, transparent widgets, and a redesigned Taskbar with all of your icons, including the Start button, moved to the center of your screen.
If you don’t like the centered Taskbar, you can move everything back to the left corner of your screen. However, this process is quite complicated at the moment, according to an early tip from a Microsoft engineer.
New Start Menu
Aside from your pinned apps, the new Start menu will also feature a Recommended section with documents and files from all your devices. So, if you were just looking at a file on your phone, tablet, or connected computer, it will appear in your Start menu.
Windows 11 also moved the search bar to the top of the Start menu. And, when you use the search bar in Windows 11, you will get results from more sources, including your PC, the web, and your OneDrive account.
New Windows 11 Features
With the new Snap Layout feature, Windows 11 makes it easier to arrange the windows on your screen. All you have to do is hover your mouse over the Maximize button of any window, and then you can choose between six different layouts.
Snap Layout will allow you to split your screen down the middle, snap your windows to the corners, or have three tall columns on your screen. However, you might only get four different Snap Layouts to choose from if you have a smaller screen.
With the new Snap Groups feature, Windows 11 lets you save your screen layouts as “projects.” So, when you open a project from the Taskbar, all your apps and windows will open in the layout you saved.
Microsoft added AI-powered widgets to Windows 11 that give you a personalized feed of relevant news articles, local weather, live traffic, entertainment, and more. You will also be able to add other widgets with your calendar, photos, to-do list, and more.
The new Widgets panel can be opened right from the Taskbar. Then you can scroll down to see all your notifications or expand the transparent panel to get a full-screen view. Finally, when you’re done with widgets, you can hide the panel completely with one click.
Microsoft Teams Integration
During the event, Microsoft announced Windows 11 will have direct integration with Teams. That means you can quickly send a message, make a call, or start a video chat right from your Taskbar with just a few clicks.
Microsoft Store Update
Microsoft also updated its app store with a more simplified design. The new Microsoft Store will have a new Entertainment tab that features top movies and TV shows you can purchase from different streaming services.
Microsoft is also adding Android apps to its App Store in Windows 11. Once you download an Android app, you can pin it to your Start menu or Taskbar. Plus, you can also use Snap Layouts and Groups to rearrange Android apps on your screen.
Windows 11 Gaming Enhancements
Windows 11 will make gaming even more enjoyable by automatically enabling HDR (high dynamic range). This feature will enhance the shadows, highlights, and colors of your games over SDR (standard dynamic range).
Microsoft claims Windows 11 will automatically enhance over 1,000 games at launch. This feature will not require you to change any settings, but you will need an HDR-compatible monitor or device.
Microsoft also added DirectStorage to Windows 11 to decreases game load times. This feature lets games load data directly off your hard drive and graphics card without involving your central processing unit (CPU).
Xbox Game Pass
Xbox Game Pass will be integrated directly into Windows 11 through the Xbox app. This means you can play hundreds of games the day they launch with a subscription. Xbox Game Pass plans start at $9.99 a month.
Windows 11 Efficiency Updates
Microsoft claims that Windows 11 will make everything on your existing computer faster, including waking the PC up from sleep mode, booting Windows Hello, and browsing using Edge or any other browser.
Microsoft says that Windows 11 was designed to use less energy. As a result, your laptop will last longer after you update. The company also mentioned that they have been working with different processor manufacturers to ensure you get the best battery life with Windows 11.
Microsoft announced that updates will be 40% smaller in Windows 11, so they won’t slow down your PC. The updates will also take place in the background, allowing you to use your computer while it updates.
According to Microsoft, Windows 11 is its most secure operating system ever. The company announced that certified Windows 11 computers will include hardware-based protections that will prevent attackers from getting into your PC.
However, that means you will need a computer with a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) chip in order to run Windows 11. This chip is meant to protect your sensitive data from hackers, including your personal info, passwords, and more.
When Is Windows 11 Coming Out?
While Microsoft did not give an exact date when it will release Windows 11, it says the new operating system will be available in the “holidays of 2021.” However, the company has left many clues that it will release Windows 11 in October of 2021.
Is Your PC Compatible with Windows 11?
Unfortunately, not all computers will be compatible with Windows 11. To find out if your device is compatible with Windows 11, use the PC Health Check app. After installing the app, click Check now to find out whether you can update to Windows 11 or not.
If your device is not compatible with Windows 11, you will only receive updates for Windows 10, but only until 2025. Microsoft has already revealed that it will stop its support for the previous Windows version in a few years.
If you’re in the market for a new computer, make sure to check out our list of the best desktop computers here.