Everything We Know About Windows 11

Everything We Know About Windows 11
(Photo: Drew Angerer, Getty Images)

It’s been 6 years since Microsoft released Windows 10 which means we are well overdue for a new version.

Microsoft had intended to bring Windows 10X to market this year but it was indefinitely postponed and many of its features have been rolled into this next version of Windows, which is officially called Windows 11.

After early builds of the software leaked onto the internet, Microsoft fans have been waiting to see what exactly Windows 11 will entail. The tech giant revealed its new operating software at an official event on June 25.

Here’s everything we now know about Windows 11.

Windows 11: Design and features

Design changes

As leaks revealed, a big design change is coming to Windows 11.

The new design is modern and fresh introducing rounded corners on windows and a transparent glass look to their design. There a range of new themes on offer too, including multiple variations of dark mode.

Microsoft has also made the decision to move the Start Menu to the centre of the console rather than keeping it to the side – a feature some are not too happy with.

The menu also features a new embedded search bar and cloud power to bring up a list of recommended documents and apps.

Split and multi-views are also made easier by selecting the maximise button in any app window, which will bring up a panel of options for you to arrange your apps to be viewable on-screen all at once. This is what Microsoft is calling ‘Snap Layouts‘.

windows 11
Screenshot: Microsoft

It’s also possible to fully customise your different desktops in Windows 11 with assigned wallpapers, apps and shortcuts so you can compartmentalises your workspace for different functions.

As expected, Windows 11 is also introducing widgets in a similar style to MacOS. Clicking a button on the taskbar will bring out a panel that you can customise with different widgets like weather, news, calendars etc.

Widgets are fully customisable and sprout up only when you want them. (Screenshot: Microsoft)
Widgets are fully customisable and sprout up only when you want them. (Screenshot: Microsoft)

Messages

Communication is more important than ever following the pandemic and Microsoft has spent a lot of time upgrading Microsoft Teams to compete.

Windows 11 will allow cross-platform messaging integration for text chat, voice chat and video calls.

Given its focus on Teams, Microsoft has also done away with other messaging apps like Skype, which will no longer be pre-installed.

Two-in-one devices

For those who utilise Windows 11 on a tablet or two-in-one device like a Surface Pro, Microsoft has implemented some new changes.

The process of switching from desktop to tablet mode will be smoother with the UI automatically changing as soon as you detach the keyboard on a device like a Surface. The same goes for if you rotate your device.

Tablet touch keyboards have also been given an upgrade with voice typing and haptics for styluses.

App Store

The App Store on Windows 11 has undergone a redesign with one of its best new features targeting app developers. Microsoft will let developers choose their payment platform and system which will allow them to keep 100% of their revenue.

Windows 11 will also integrate Android and Amazon apps giving easier access to things like TikTok and Kindle.

App and program changes

As with all new software updates, some things are coming and going in Windows 11.

A couple of core Windows apps are getting redesigns in Windows 11. One of these is the classic Microsoft Paint. MS Paint has been redesigned to match the new UI of Windows 11 and features a new fluent header and simplified toolbar.

The Snipping Tool is also merging with the Snip and Sketch Apps to create an enhanced tool that takes screenshots and allows edits and annotations within the one app.

The Mail, Calendar and Calculator apps are others known to be getting an overhaul to match the new design of Windows 11.

One of the programs that will be leaving is Internet Explorer, which will be completely wiped from Windows 11 to be replaced with Microsoft Edge.

Another small change, that may come as a big change to some users, is Windows’ blue screen of death. In Windows 11 this will be changed to the black screen of death.

Gaming

Microsoft will integrate Xbox Games right into Windows 11. (Screenshot: Microsoft)
Microsoft will integrate Xbox Games right into Windows 11. (Screenshot: Microsoft)

Microsoft has spent a lot of time cultivating the console side of gaming with the next-gen Xbox, but it hasn’t forgotten about PC players.

Windows 11 takes some of the best features from Xbox and brings them over to PC. Auto HDR looks to instantly improve the lighting and colour of games and Direct Storage is designed to speed up loading times and improve performance.

Xbox Game Pass will also be directly built into Windows 11 giving users cloud-saving, crossplay and access to thousands of cloud games with a monthly subscription.

Microsoft 11 System Requirements

Not all devices are created equal so if you’re looking to install the new Windows OS you’ll want to make sure your computer can run it.

Here are the minimum system requirements:

  • Processor: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster with 2 or more cores on a compatible 64-bit processor or System on a Chip (SoC)
  • Memory: 4 GB RAM
  • Storage: 64 GB or larger storage device
  • System Firmware: UEFI, Secure Boot capable
  • TPM: Trusted Platform Module version 2.0
  • Graphics Card: DirectX 12 compatible graphics/WDDM 2x
  • Display: >9″ with HD resolution (720p)
  • Internet connection: Microsoft account and internet connectivity required for setup

You can check if your system is compatible with Windows 11 on Microsoft’s website.

Note that the system requirements for Windows 11 have gotten a little confusing, with Microsoft eventually amending some of the technology needed to upgrade.

How much will it cost?

The good news is that Windows 11 will come as a free update for anyone with a Windows 10 PC.

When it comes to buying Windows 11 outright, Microsoft is yet to release pricing.

Windows 11: Release date

We may not have a solid release date but we do know Windows 11 will release later this year in the ‘holiday season’.

If you’re not keen on waiting there is a way to get your hands on Windows 11 before everyone else via the Windows Insider Program.

This article has been updated with additional information.