After weeks of speculation, rumour and innuendo – Microsoft yesterday finally officially confirmed the name for the next release of Windows OS: Windows 11.
This comes a week after Microsoft experienced a massive Windows 11 leak, a leak that shows all initial thoughts have proven to be true. As speculated in our report of the leak, Microsoft’s new OS is focused on simplification of the Windows user interface and improvements for multitasking and performance.
Windows 11 also includes a redone Windows store, and for the first time ever, running support for Android apps, like TikTok and more.
The immediate first impression is of the new Start Menu, now appearing from the centre of the taskbar instead of from its left. The Start Button is also now front and centre in the taskbar.
A very similar UI to what was originally shown in the now-scrapped Windows 10X version of the previous OS seems to confirm that Windows 11 has inherited all the work that was put into the 10X OS’ UI.
The new Start Menu drops the Live Tiles that were first introduced with Windows 8 with the new OS opting for a more contemporary launcher like something you’d find in Chrome OS or Android.
The Live Tiles include apps, recent documents, and a separate search interface. The new centre appearance as well as Window 11’s rounded corners and clean, the sanitised finish is clearly inspired by competitors like macOS and Chrome OS.
Panos Panay, Chief of Windows says that “the team has obsessed over every detail” with the new UI. The new OS will also include updated dark and light modes than what current versions of the OS are able to produce.
As reported from the leak, Windows 11 comes with a new ‘Snap Layouts’ function, allowing users to quickly ‘snap’ apps into different positions on the screen. Windows 11 will also remember where your apps are stored, thanks to something called Snap Groups.
The Verge believes that this may be a useful way to support multiple monitors, ensuring apps always open on the screen you have assigned them to.
Windows Widgets and touch gestures are also being pushed as major features in Windows 11. Widgets is a personalized feed, powered by AI, and it builds on the widgets introduced in Windows 10. Built-in widgets include a news feed, weather, and maps.
Gestures and touch-screen capabilities are also being improved in Windows 11 for tablets. Instead of flipping into a tablet mode, Windows 11 simply adapts to allow you to touch the OS easily.
New, Improved Running Time
Performance is another huge focus for Microsoft in this iteration.
Windows 11’s updates will be 40% smaller and more efficient in that they occur in the background – time will tell if this proves to be as significant as Microsoft claims it to be.
Microsoft Teams is also being integrated into Windows 11 for consumers, directly unto the taskbar. This no-brainer move will allow Windows 11 users to call friends, family or work colleagues without having to go and download Teams separately.
This move also seems to be a way for Microsoft to distance itself from Skype, which the company also owns. The online chat service has fallen from the massive popularity it once saw due to the breaking of the monopoly it enjoyed in the market, replaced by apps like Zoom, Teams and Discord.
New for Gamers
In an exciting and unexpected twist, Windows 11 shifts enormously into gaming with significantly more Xbox integration than previous generations.
Auto HDR, a feature in Xbox Series X/S will be part of the new OS. This will allow gamers to enjoy HDR (High Dynamic Range) in a large range of PC titles that use DirectX 11 and DirectX 12 as long as there is a compatible monitor present.
Speed and performance are also promised to be improved for gaming.
DirectStorage, a big new feature from the Xbox Series X / S, will also be included. DirectStorage will require the latest NVMe drives to speed up load times and FPS in games on Windows 11. Developers making games for PC (most of them) will have to enable this technology per game to boost performance further.
The much-talked-about Xbox Game Pass is being integrated into the OS as well, thanks to a new app that Microsoft has been testing for months. Xbox Game Pass is a monthly subscription service that, once paid, allows users ‘free’ access to Xbox’ entire catalogue of games.
Microsoft’s xCloud, its game-streaming platform similar to Google Stadia, will also be integrated right into Windows 11.
New Android Apps and Store
Windows 11’s new Microsoft Store is being touted as one of the biggest parts of Windows 11. The Store now features support for Android apps on Windows.
The entire store is redesigned and will include a number of options completely new to Microsoft, including the Adobe Creative Suite and apps like TikTok and Instagram from Android.
The Verge reports that Windows has partnered with Amazon and Intel to make Android apps available on the OS, with Windows 11 using Intel Bridge technology to make this possible.
If Windows 11 delivers, it will be the single most exciting foray Microsoft has made into consumer tech in years. In time, and if promises hold up, it could enjoy the industry-changing exposure and support that Windows XP enjoyed.
Windows 11 is reportedly going to be a free upgrade for anyone with a Windows 10-operating PC capable of running it. No release date has yet to be confirmed, but users could expect Windows 11 to appear at some point in October, alongside new hardware running the operating system.