At the recent Sun Valley Event, Microsoft unveiled its biggest Windows update in six years. The new Windows 11 comes with many 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 you’ll notice about Windows 11 is its new design. Panos Panay, Chief Product Officer at Microsoft, kicked off the event by explaining how the new design changes are intended 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 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 also includes a Recommended section with documents and files from all your devices. So if you’re just looking at a file on your phone, tablet, or connected computer, it’ll show up 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 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 organize the windows on your screen. All you have to do is hover your mouse over the Maximize button of any window and you can choose from six different layouts.
Snap Layout lets you split your screen in the middle, snap your windows to the corners, or have three tall columns on your screen. However, you may 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 open in the layout you saved.
Microsoft has 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 can also add other widgets to your calendar, photos, to-do list, and more.
The new Widgets panel can be opened directly 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 are done with widgets, you can completely hide the panel with one click.
Microsoft Teams integration
At the event, Microsoft announced that Windows 11 will have direct integration with Teams. That means you can quickly send a message, make a call or start a video chat with just a few clicks from your taskbar.
Microsoft Store Update
Microsoft has also updated its app store with a simpler design. The new Microsoft Store has a new Entertainment tab with top movies and TV shows that you can buy from various streaming services.
Microsoft is also adding Android apps to the App Store in Windows 11. After you download an Android app, you can pin it to your Start menu or taskbar. In addition, you can also use Snap layouts and groups to rearrange Android apps on your screen.
Windows 11 gaming improvements
Windows 11 makes gaming even more fun by automatically turning on HDR (high dynamic range). This feature enhances the shadows, highlights and colors of your games via SDR (standard dynamic range).
Microsoft claims that Windows 11 will automatically improve over 1,000 games at launch. This feature does not require you to change any settings, but you do need an HDR-compatible monitor or device.
Microsoft has also added DirectStorage to Windows 11 to reduce game loading times. This feature allows games to load data directly from your hard drive and graphics card without involving your central processing unit (CPU).
Xbox Game Pass
Xbox Game Pass integrates directly into Windows 11 through the Xbox app. This means that with a subscription you can play hundreds of games the day they launch.
Efficiency updates for Windows 11
Microsoft claims that Windows 11 will speed up everything on your existing computer, including waking the PC from sleep, launching Windows Hello, and browsing with Edge or another browser.
If you’d like to learn more about recent updates Microsoft made to its new Edge browser, check out our guide here.
Longer battery life
Microsoft says Windows 11 is designed to use less power. This means your laptop will last longer after an update. The company also mentioned that they have worked with several processor manufacturers to ensure you get the best battery life with Windows 11.
Microsoft has announced that updates will be 40% smaller in Windows 11 so they don’t slow down your PC. The updates also happen in the background so you can use your computer while it is being updated.
According to Microsoft, Windows 11 is the most secure operating system ever. The company has announced that certified Windows 11 computers will include hardware-based protections that prevent attackers from entering your PC.
However, that means you need a computer with a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) chip to run Windows 11. This chip is intended to protect your sensitive data from hackers, including your personal information, passwords and more.
When is Windows 11 coming out?
While Microsoft hasn’t given an exact date when it will release Windows 11, it says the new operating system will be available in the “holiday of 2021”. However, the company has left many indications that it will release Windows 11 in October 2021.
Is your PC compatible with Windows 11?
Unfortunately, not all computers are compatible with Windows 11. Use the PC Health Check app to see if your device is compatible with Windows 11. After installing the app, click Check Now to see if 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 announced that it will stop supporting the previous Windows version in a few years.