We got a sneak peek at what Windows will be like in the future. Thanks to a leak of what looked to be an early edition of an operating system called Windows 11 last week, there may not be many shocks. Microsoft finally revealed the new Windows 11 during an online event on Thursday 24 June.
The highly anticipated announcement comes almost six years after the introduction of Windows 10, which is the world’s most widely used PC operating system, with over 1.3 billion devices using it.
Also read: Microsoft Windows 11: What to expect
Windows 10 users can know if their PCs are eligible to upgrade to Windows 11 by checking the PC Health Check app from Microsoft free of charge. The upgrade will start to become available through the Windows Update section of the Settings app later this year and continue through 2022. People who want to try an early version of Windows 11 can access it starting next week through the Windows Insider Program.
Highlights from the new Windows 11 launch event
Windows 11 announced
Microsoft just announced the new Windows 11. Panos Panay, Microsoft’s chief product officer, described the new operating system as “the Windows that brings you closer to the things you love.”
There are rounded corners, fresh desktop wallpaper, and a centered Start menu with recently used apps and files across many devices, as well as a search box. A basic square with four equal-sized panes has been added to the Windows icon.
“Today marks a major milestone in the history of Windows,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said. “It’s the beginning of a new generation.”
There’s also Windows Widgets, a repackaging of a feature containing news, weather and other information that was introduced to people testing Windows 10 builds in the past few months. The Widgets feature uses artificial intelligence to offer personalized content, and it can be shown on the entirety of the screen with a swipe from left to right.
Windows 11 will include “snap layouts” that make it easy to move application windows into preset configurations. A new “snap groups” feature in the taskbar is a group of the apps people were previously using. And when Windows 11 users reconnect additional monitors to their PCs, the operating system will remember which apps were being used before.
Microsoft is incorporating its Teams productivity app directly into Windows, Panay said. The addition comes months after Microsoft adding a way for people to quickly start video calls in Windows through its Skype app.
Windows 11 to provide support for Android apps from Amazon’s app store
Plus, Android apps are coming to Windows, by way of the Amazon Appstore, and can be accessed from the taskbar, Panay said. That builds on efforts through the Your Phone app to let owners of certain Samsung Android devices run their Android apps on Windows.
But, notably, the Amazon App Store doesn’t offer Google’s popular Android apps like Gmail, Maps and other Google services.
Still, it could be huge for Microsoft’s ARM-based Windows efforts, since those apps are already designed to work on mobile processors. It shows how mobile apps, which people use all day long on their phones, are jumping to our desktop computers across both major platforms, Windows 11 and macOS.
Microsoft also revealed a revamped app store, which Panay described as “the safest and most secure way for you to get your apps on Windows.” The app will make room for more traditional Win32 applications, along with Progressive Web Apps and Universal Windows Platform apps, and developers can use their own commerce systems. Apps can be in the store without Microsoft taking a share of the revenue from sales of applications.
Microsoft revamps Teams
Microsoft Teams, the company’s videoconferencing and chat software, is getting a big update to make it more like a systemwide messaging app.
During the presentation, Microsoft revealed an interface that puts chats in standalone windows. Frequent contacts appear as a pop-up on the start bar. It’s also getting more video conferencing features and appears easier to jump right into a video call like you would using FaceTime or Messages on a Mac. Teams has 145 million daily active users, Microsoft said in April.
The operating system will improve the performance of Microsoft’s Edge browser when browsing the internet, allowing for longer battery life. Panay claims that updates will be 40% smaller. There will also be fewer updates: one per year rather than two with Windows 10.
The PC Health Check app from Microsoft can show Windows 10 users if their PCs are eligible to upgrade to Windows 11, free of charge. The upgrade will start to become available through the Windows Update section of the Settings app this holiday season and continue through 2022. People who want to try an early version of Windows 11 can access it starting next week through the Windows Insider Program.
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