Windows 10 wasn’t the last version of Windows after all. Tech giant Microsoft, today, announced Windows 11, its first big version of Windows in over five years. The new operating system will be available to all Windows 10 users as a free update, as long as their devices can support them. The company hasn’t announced an exact launch date, but said the operating system will be seen on devices before the end of the year.
The new operating system includes a revamped Start Menu, with an updated Start button, both centered in the Windows taskbar. According to Microsoft, this makes for a better user interface than the current setup. The Start Menu and button currently live in the bottom left of the desktop. The new UI is very similar to updates we saw on Windows 10X over a year ago.
With the new Start Menu, Microsoft is dropping the Live Tiles, which have been a part of the OS since Windows 8. The system is not similar to Chrome OS and Android, which are made by Google. Which makes sense too, since Windows 11 will also support Android apps, allowing companies to plug their apps directly into Windows 11 driven PCs.
Further, Windows 11 has a feature called “snap layouts”, which allows users to put apps in different layouts supported by Windows 11. The OS will also remember how you use your apps, mitigating the need to resize them every time you launch. The feature can be useful for creators and power users who use multiple monitors for their work and need specific app placements for productivity.
Microsoft also said that Windows updates will be 40 percent smaller now, and claims the new OS will enhance performance too. It will also be compatible with Qualcomm’s ARM-based chipsets, moving beyond the usual x64 based processors that Intel and AMD produce. ARM and x64 are processor architectures used for PC and mobile processors. “This is the first version of a new era for Windows. We’re building for the next decade and beyond,” said Satya Nadella, Executive Chairman and CEO of Microsoft.
With the success of Microsoft Teams due to remote working requirements created by the pandemic, Microsoft has also integrated the video collaboration tools directly into Windows, on both consumer and enterprise versions of the OS. This allows users to call co-workers, friends etc. without having to always open a new app.
The new OS also seems friendlier for touchscreen devices, like tablets, with a personalized Widgets feed that slides out from one end of the screen. The company also said it has improved gesture support for tablets. Inking and voice typing, too, have been improved.
In line with its new and updated Xbox consoles, Windows 11 will now support Auto-HDR resolution, which allows for better gaming and video viewing. The feature is part of the Xbox Series X and S consoles, and putting it on Windows will allow developers to provide the same experience across PC and console games. Microsoft also promised speed and performance improvements for Windows 11, and integrated Xbox GamePass into Windows 11.
Lastly, in a move that could be big for the future of antitrust cases against Apple and Google, Microsoft said developers who build apps for the Windows Store will be allowed to use their own payments systems, and third-party providers. This could spell trouble for Apple and Google, who have both been criticized for forcing developers to use their own payments systems, so that they can charge commissions for the same.
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