Windows 11 is the latest major release of Microsoft’s Windows NT operating system, released in October 2021. It is a free upgrade to its predecessor, Windows 10 (2015), available for any Windows 10 devices that meet the new Windows 11 system requirements.
Windows 11 features major changes to the Windows shell influenced by the canceled Windows 10X, including a redesigned Start menu.
The replacement of its “live tiles” with a separate “Widgets” panel on the taskbar, the ability to create tile sets of windows that can be minimize and restored from the taskbar as a group, and new gaming technologies inherit from Xbox Series X and Series S such as Auto HDR and DirectStorage on compatible hardware.
Internet Explorer (IE) has been replace by the Chromium-based Microsoft Edge as the default web browser like its predecessor, Windows 10, and Microsoft Teams is integrate into the Windows shell
Windows 11 received a mixed reception at launch. Pre-release coverage of the operating system focused on its stricter hardware requirements, with discussions over whether they were legitimately intend to improve the security of Windows or as a ploy to upsell customers to newer devices, and over e-waste associated with the changes.
Windows 11 is available in two main editions; the Home edition, which is intend for consumer users.
Pro edition, which contains additional networking and security features (such as BitLocker), as well as the ability to join a domain. Windows 11 Home may be restrict by default to verified software obtained from Microsoft Store (“S Mode”).
Windows 11 Home requires an internet connection and a Microsoft account in order to complete first-time setup. In February 2022, it was announce that this restriction will also apply to Windows 11 Pro in the future. Microsoft has released its first big update to Windows 11, known as the version 22H2 release, or the 2022 Update. This new release continues the vision that was first introduced with Windows 11 last year with new features, productivity enhancements, UI improvements, and much more.
What new in Windows 11
Here’s a quick rundown of all the new features added with the 2022 Update:
App folders in Start menu
Resizable pinned area in Start menu
Drag and Drop on the Taskbar
Focus Assist integration with Notification Center
Better “spotlight” wallpaper feature
Voice Access accessibility feature
Live Captions accessibility feature
Gestures and animations for touch users
New snap layouts bar when moving app windows
Improved Task Manager app
“Suggested Actions” feature when copying dates/numbers is improven
Tabs in File Explorer
Better OneDrive integration with File Explorer
Numerous UI improvements and consistency updates
Hardware Requirements for Windows 11
At least 4GB of RAM
At least 64GB of storage
UEFI, Secure Boot, & TPM 2.0 enabled Windows 11 is also available on new PCs starting October 5 2021. Most PCs going forward will ship with Windows 11 out of box from this date, though some OEMs will likely continue to offer SKUs.
Available widgets in this first release of Windows 11
Windows 11 New fatures
One of the big additions with Windows 11 is support for running Android apps on Windows. This is possible thanks to the Windows Subsystem for Android and a partnership with the Amazon Appstore, which makes it easier to install these Android apps on your Windows PC.
Microsoft Store showing Amazon Appstore and Android apps
While the Amazon Appstore is the official way to install Android apps on Windows 11, you can also sideload Android apps using the Android Debug Bridge (ADB), and there are even apps, such as WSATools, designed to make it that much easier to install Android apps on Windows 11. Because the Windows Subsystem for Android doesn’t ship with Google services, some apps may not work, but there are ways to work around that.
The Amazon Appstore on Windows 11 debuted in early 2022 for users in the United States, but they’re available in many more countries today – in fact, a total of 31 countries are now supported. If you’re not in one of those countries, you can still install the Windows Subsystem for Android and sideload apps using other methods.
A big visual overhaul, with rounded corners
There’s a brand-new Start Menu, too, which gets rid of the square tiles in favor of more prominent app icons, and it has a more modern look overall. By default, the Start menu and the taskbar are also at the center of the screen now, though you can move them back to the left side if you don’t like that.
Optimizations for touch devices
It’s not just about a new look though. The way you interact with the UI will be different as well. A big focus here is making Windows better for touch, something that Windows 10 always struggled with. Indeed, while Windows 8 was all-in on touch, Windows 10 felt like it scaled back a bit too much. Windows 11 comes with support for new touch gestures, especially with the update to version 22H2. You can do things like open and close the Start menu, the notification center, the quick settings panel, and more.
Snap Layouts and Snap Groups
Windows 10 brought us Snap Assist, and Windows 11 is bringing us Snap Layouts and Snap Groups. This is a cool one. In Windows 11, you can hover over the maximize button, and you’ll be presented with layout options.
Windows 11 layout selection You can select one of the tiles in the layouts, and your app will snap to that position on the screen. Snap Assist will help you fill in the rest. While this is useful for everyone, it should be particularly useful for those that use ultra-wide monitors. Microsoft has never supported three apps side-by-side before.
A new Microsoft Store
A new Microsoft Store One of the big focus points of Windows 11 is to “unlock greater economic opportunity for developers and creators”. That leads us to a new Microsoft Store. Make no mistake; this is a big part of the update.
Microsoft is laser-focused on gaming, and why shouldn’t it be? It has the only viable PC gaming platform, a console play, and a cloud back end that’s second to none. And as we know, if there’s an Azure play to be made, Microsoft is going to make it.
Windows 11 and Xbox Game Pass with games in background
Windows 11 has a bunch of gaming improvements. One of them is Auto HDR, a feature first included in Xbox Series X|S consoles, and now coming to Windows. It automatically adds HDR to older games, as you can probably guess from the name.
Updated apps with tweaked designs
Microsoft is updating inbox apps to include Windows 11 visuals. That means that it’s adding a bunch of rounded corners to things like Calculator. It also includes things like programmer mode, graphing mode, and support for over 100 units and currencies.
Graphing Calculator in Windows 11
Of course, many other apps have also been updated with tweaked designs, including the Camera app, Mail and Calendar, and more. Others have had more significant redesigns and feature changes, too.
Clock with Focus Sessions
One of the big app updates with Windows 11 is a new Clock app with Focus Sessions. This is a feature meant to help with concentration, and it lets you create a timer so that you can stay focused on work as long as that timer is running.
A beautiful new Photos app
Microsoft has redesigned the Photos app not once, but twice with Windows 11. Originally, Windows 11 came with a redesigned version of the app that still had a lot of the same features, though it had a refreshed design and some new additions, like a filmstrip at the bottom of the photo viewer to see all the photos in a group or folder. Now, it has received an even bigger redesign, with improved navigation on the homepage to make it easier to find your photos locally and on OneDrive. In fact, there’s even a new integration with iCloud Photos, so you can see your photos from iCloud in the same place as all your other photos.
An all-new Snipping Tool
You might recall that with Windows 10, Microsoft spent a lot of time trying to revamp old apps. It had a plan to replace Paint with Paint 3D, it did replace Internet Explorer with Edge, the OneNote saga still isn’t over, and Snipping Tool was replace by Snip and Sketch. With Windows 11, we’re back to a single Snipping Tool, which brings together the best of both apps – though it’s still mostly like Snip & Sketch.
Screenshot of the Task Manager in Windows 11 version 22H2
The whole UI is new , too. The tabs at the top are now on the side, and they’re label with icons so they’re more easily identifiable at a glance, too. There are also new features like efficiency mode to help you save power with some apps.