15 July 2021
Microsoft has officially taken wraps off the next-generation Windows version named Windows 11. The announcement also confirms that the leaked build from the last week is actually a real deal. The upcoming version was speculated to be nothing but just a visually overhauled Windows 10 but that is not the case. It brings different performance and productivity-related improvements including better multitasking and native support for Android apps.
The first thing that you will notice straight away is changes related to the Start menu and Taskbar. Windows 11 has the Start menu, Search, and other shortcut icons in the center of the taskbar like a dock. Other icons like date and time, battery level, WiFi, etc. are still on the right side which makes the left side completely empty.
Microsoft has also gotten rid of Live Tiles and offered a Start menu that looks like a simple app launcher. It shows a search bar at the top followed by Pinned apps for quick access. It further shows a list of apps and files that you accessed recently so that you can go back to them quickly instead of looking for them. If you are a Microsoft 365 user, it will show you recently opened files/apps regardless of the platform i.e. Android and iOS.
In an effort to boost productivity and improve multitasking, Windows 11 comes with three new features called Snap Layouts, Snap Groups, and Desktops. If you are working in multiple windows like a browser, file explore, and software, you will be able to arrange them in different layouts with just one click through Snap Layouts. It eliminates the need for resizing each window manually.
Snap Groups is a feature that creates groups of multiple applications that you use together along with your preferred layout. Clicking on a particular group will open them in an instant so that you can start working without any delays. Lastly, Desktops is like having multiple profiles on smartphones. You can create dedicated desktop profiles for different purposes like home, office, and gaming.
The ongoing global pandemic has forced everyone to stay in touch with their family and friends through online conversations like video calls and chats. It has even led to the majority of people working from home and attending office meetings virtually. This is the reason Microsoft is now offering deeper integration of the Teams app with Windows 11. It now sits in the taskbar and with one click, users will be able to check conversations and initiate a new chat or video call.
Windows 11 is bringing back Widgets that were quite popular during the Windows 7 and Vista days. Their placement and visual appearance are different but they are still meant to work the same way. They will offer quick access to vital information like weather updates, calendar, stock updates, latest news, to-do list, and photos of the day.
Microsoft Store has also undergone a major overhaul with the new Windows version. It now focuses on showing user's favorite apps and entertainment choices (games, movies, and TV shows) at the same place. It will get new apps like Microsoft Teams, Visual Studio, Disney+, Adobe Creative Cloud, Zoom, and Canva. It has further teamed up with Amazon and Intel to bring Android applications to Windows. All supported Android apps will be available for download through the Amazon Appstore and powered by Intel Bridge technology.
Windows 11 will be available as a free upgrade to all Windows 10 users around the world. Microsoft will also work with OEMs to help them release new desktops and laptops with Windows 11 pre-installed. A specific release date is unknown but Windows 11 rollout is expected to begin later this year and to continue through 2022. If you are a Windows Insider member, you will get access to a beta version of the operating system starting next week.