Windows 11, the first major update comes after 2015 when Windows 10 was launched, has started to roll out. Microsoft’s latest operating system offers a new interface and several features that bring Windows into a post-2020 world with more people working between their homes and the office. For existing Windows 10 users, Windows 11 will be available as a free upgrade — but this might take until mid-2022.
That’s assuming, of course, that your computer is compatible. If you still need to upgrade to Windows 10, don’t worry — a free Windows 10 download trick still works for many people.
You don’t necessarily have to upgrade from Windows 10 to 11. Not at least until 2025, when Microsoft says it will no longer support Windows 10.
Let’s go over major changes Microsoft made in the new OS when compared with Windows 10.
Windows 10 vs. Windows 11
Interface & design
More Mac-like interface to the OS is one major shift. A clean design with rounded corners and pastel shades. The iconic Start menu also moves to the center of the screen along with the Taskbar. But you can move those back to the left, as they are in Windows 10, if you prefer.
Android app integration
Android apps will be coming to Windows 11 (though not right away) in Microsoft Store, via the Amazon Appstore. (There were a couple of ways to access Android apps on Windows 10, including if you had a Samsung Galaxy phone, but this will make it native.) This is something Windows users have been waiting for for years, and marks another move toward the merging of mobile and laptop devices.
Virtual desktop support improved
Windows 11 will let you set up virtual desktops in a way that’s more similar to Macs, toggling between multiple desktops at once for personal, work, school or gaming use. In Windows 10, this was harder to set up and use.
Easier monitor to laptop transition
The new OS includes features called Snap Groups and Snap Layouts — collections of the apps you’re using at once that sit in the taskbar, and can come up or be minimized at the same time for easier task switching. They also let you plug and unplug from a monitor more easily, without losing where your open windows are located.
Taskbar has Microsoft Teams
Teams is getting a facelift and will be integrated directly into the Windows 11 taskbar, making it easier to access (and a bit more like Apple’s FaceTime). You’ll be able to access teams from Windows, Mac, Android or iOS.
Widgets (well, sort of)
you can now access widgets directly from the Taskbar and personalize them to see whatever you’d like.
Enhanced touchscreen, voice & pen support
To improve the experience for touch for tablets, Microsoft has added more space between icons on the taskbar, and adding gestures. Windows 11 also adds haptics to your digital pen, so you can hear and feel vibrations as you use it for taking notes or drawing. Finally, the OS introduces voice typing and commands across the system.
Xbox tech to improve gaming
Windows 11 will get certain features found in Xbox consoles, like Auto HDR and DirectStorage, to improve gaming on your Windows PC. This marks another move toward integrating PCs and Xbox consoles for Microsoft.
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