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On June 24th, Microsoft announced the next major product for the tech giant: Windows 11. This new operating system promises streamlined efficiency, enhanced visual styles, increased personalization, and a host of other user experience improvements.
According to Microsoft’s Chief Product Officer, Panos Panay, the shift of computers from practical to personal through the COVID-19 pandemic created heavy inspiration for the new operating system. In his words, the aim of developing Windows 11 is “to build you a place that feels familiar, where you can create, learn, play, and most importantly, connect in all new ways.” While that sounds great, we must ask – what can we actually expect from the new Windows?
Things Are Going To Be Familiar…
The first thing Windows veterans will notice is that the new system looks very similar to another market product: Apple’s macOS operating system.
The Windows 11 style practically screams ‘Mac’ from the new centered task bar all the way to every application window having rounded corners. The new start menu is a semi-transparent window which is designed to rest over open applications and scroll through the system’s installed applications.
Finally, Windows 11 introduces a ‘new’ widget system which can help you keep track of news, weather, and social media posts directly from your desktop. This widget menu will open from the left of the screen, unlike the Mac version which opens from the right.
Windows Store Features
The Windows Store has been a point of contention and frustration for many people since the store’s inception.
Long load times, poor UI design choices, lack of app variety, inconsistent performance, and frequent failures have led many users to become disillusioned with the virtual marketplace. In the Windows 11 announcement, however, Microsoft promises a brand-new reality for the Windows Store.
The first two things Panay said about the store focused on its look and performance. The upcoming UI will feature gentle, rounded corners and simple but stylish icons similar to the other changes in the OS. Panay stated that the new store is “built for speed”, but what does that mean specifically? We won’t know until Windows 11 itself arrives.
Microsoft also showcased a vastly enhanced variety of applications which will be available in the new store. Everything from games to production apps, Disney+ to Adobe Creative Cloud, and more will arrive with the new store in Windows 11.
A major part of this app volume increase can be attributed to the Microsoft Store incorporating the Android applications through Amazon’s app store. In Windows 11 you can download any Android app to your Windows device, be it a computer, tablet, or fridge (if your fridge can run Windows 11, of course).
Snazzy New Desktop Features
There are some new, exciting features which are packaged with Windows 11. The two which stand out the most to us from the announcement video are Snap Features and Dock Memory.
Most Windows users are familiar with the process of dragging a window to the side of your screen and being offered the option to snap another window to fit the other half of your monitor. In Windows 11, however, simply top and side snapping will be just the start of what you can use window snapping for.
The OS will allow you to choose from nearly 10 options of window configurations to suit your specific needs. You can split your monitor into vertical thirds, quadrants, two quarters on top and a half screen on bottom, one half-size vertical to the left and two stacked quadrants on the right, and more! These options will make it easier than ever to optimize your screen space for any task. Assuming it works correctly, of course.
The second exciting feature that Windows 11 claims to support is Dock Memory. The example they gave goes like this: You’ve docked into a machine, got your snap windows setup how you like, but you need to go to a meeting in a different room.
You undock and all the windows open on your dock monitor automatically minimize instead of merging with the windows open on your laptop monitor (this one’s a pretty nice UX upgrade).
You go to your meeting, come back to your desk, and, when you dock in, the minimized windows automatically open back up on the monitor. Not only that, but they also open in the same snap configuration so you can get right back to what you were doing. This sounds very neat, but we’ll have to wait until Windows 11 actually releases to find out if it really is as good as Microsoft says it will be.
Here are a few other features that we thought we’re worth mentioning:
- Teams is integrated into the Windows 11 OS. Skype never got that kind of treatment!
- Panay claims that Windows 11 updates happen 40% faster than current systems.
- Windows has never before seen gaming features like Auto-HDR and direct GPU storage. Microsoft decided to showcase these features with The Elder Scrolls IV: Skyrim, a game from 2011 which runs on fridge hardware and Amazon Alexas.
- Check out Skyrim
- Check out Fridge
Windows 11: A Gift For Everyone?
The announcement trailer probably created more questions than it provided information. Why does the new system look so much like Mac infrastructure?
What happened to Windows-as-a-Service? Why showcase next-gen gaming features with a last-gen game? Will the new Microsoft Store be as good as they say? And, perhaps most importantly, will my free upgrade from Windows 10 to 11 allow me to turn Cortana off this time?
All these questions will probably be answered this holiday season when the new operating system releases as a free upgrade for all licensed Windows 10 users. Based on the last free upgrade though, you might want to wait until the holiday season of 2022.
If you’re interested in learning more about Microsoft products and updates, we’re happy to help. Get in touch with us today to learn more.