Windows 11 | Everything you need to know about the launch

Windows logo. | Picture by special arrangement.  

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Windows 11, the latest operating system (OS) from Microsoft, is finally here. The software giant unveiled the new OS at a virtual event on Thursday. Windows 11 brings a fresher and simpler design to users along with several new features, including a cleaner Start menu and taskbar; user interface (UI), productivity and performance enhancements; a new app store with access to Android apps; and gaming improvements.

“This is the first version of a new era of Windows. We are building for the next decade and beyond,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, said during the launch event.

Windows 11's new Start menu.

Windows 11's new Start menu.   | Photo Credit: Microsoft


Let’s begin with the all-new Start menu. It is located in the centre of the taskbar and can be accessed by clicking on the new Start button. The Start menu straightaway presents the simpler design of the new OS with most of the top half dedicated to pinned apps and the bottom half showing recommended files and apps. There is a search bar at the top of the menu that can be used for searching the device, as well as the web. With the live tiles and other elements removed, the Start menu essentially looks cleaner and offers things that a user would need to get started. Besides, Start is powered by cloud and Microsoft 365, which makes it possible to display recent files on the menu, even if they were accessed on a different device or platform.

Windows 11’s UI is visually pleasing with different elements like the colours, transparencies, transitions, and rounded corners across the OS. Plus, the light and dark modes, along with new wallpapers and themes offer further customisation options.


Windows 11’s transparency element also helps blend Widgets seamlessly with everything else a user is working on. The new Widgets layout, slides out like a “sheet of glass”, to offer artificial intelligence-powered personalised feed to users. While working or otherwise, using the Widgets, users can take a quick look at their calendar, check the weather forecast, glance at top news stories, or track the stock market.

“For creators and publishers, Widgets also opens new real estate within Windows to deliver personalised content,” Microsoft CPO Panos Panay, said.

Snap Layouts on Windows 11.

Snap Layouts on Windows 11.   | Photo Credit: Microsoft


For enhanced productivity, Windows 11 includes features such as Snap Layouts, Snap Groups and Desktops. The Snap Layouts present different layout options when working with multiple apps simultaneously, and swiftly arrange the apps side-by-side on the screen to aid multitasking. Snap Groups are a collection of apps that a user is working with, which can be accessed together quickly, even after a break, straight from the taskbar. Additionally, the Desktops can now be customised with individual wallpapers, and users can create multiple Desktops for work, entertainment, or gaming with different sets of apps to stay organised. The OS also offers new easier docking and undocking experience for multiscreen users.

“With Windows 11, we made it faster and simpler to get started, to get organised, and to get back into what you were doing, all so that you can be your most productive and creative,” Carmen Zlateff, Partner Director, Windows Program Management at Microsoft, said.


The software giant’s popular communication platform, Teams, which has grown significantly in the last year and has 145 million daily active users, is now integrated into Windows 11. This means, users will be able to access Teams Chat from the taskbar to connect with their friends and family via chat, voice or video call.

Windows 11 also promises performance improvements like faster Windows Hello and web browsing experience, better wake-up time and battery life, as well as 40% smaller Windows updates with better efficiency.  Microsoft also claims Windows 11 is the most secure Windows yet.

The new OS also enhances the experience on touch-based devices with more space between the icons in the taskbar, bigger touch targets and subtle visual cues to make resizing and moving windows easier. In addition, new trackpad-like gestures will help users perform different tasks easily. And, with improvements in voice typing, and new keyboard options, users can get a more engaging touchscreen experience.

New Microsoft Store

The software firm introduced a new Microsoft Store as a single destination for apps, games, as well as media content like movies and TV on Windows 11. The store will feature own and third-party apps like Visual Studio, Disney+, Adobe Creative Cloud, Zoom and Canva. In addition, Windows users will be able to browse Android apps in the store and download them via the Amazon Appstore. To bring the Android experience into the new OS, Microsoft joined forces with Amazon, as well as Intel, to use its Intel Bridge technology.

New Microsoft Store with access to Android apps.

New Microsoft Store with access to Android apps.   | Photo Credit: Microsoft


Last month, at the annual developer conference, Microsoft chief had mentioned unlocking greater economic opportunity for developers and creators. And the company is doing so by allowing developers and independent software vendors to bring their apps regardless of app framework and packaging technology. Further, app developers will also have an option to bring their own or a third-party commerce platform in their apps, enabling them to keep 100% of their revenue, it noted.

Gaming upgrade

Microsoft promises to deliver the best PC gaming experience with Windows 11. The OS will feature technology to enhance graphics performance like Auto HDR, enabling supported games to render a much wider range of brightness and colours, for a fascinating visual experience, and DirectX 12 Ultimate can provide immersive graphics at high frame rates. Windows 11 will also support DirectStorage technology with specific hardware and drivers, for faster load times and more detailed game worlds.

Moreover, the Xbox App is now built into Windows 11, providing easier access to Game Pass, through which users will be able to browse and play over 100 PC games from different genres. Also, with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, users can experience Xbox Cloud Gaming on Windows PCs via a browser, and with cross-play and cross-save they can play these games seamlessly across devices.

Xbox App on Windows 11 with access to Game Pass.

Xbox App on Windows 11 with access to Game Pass.   | Photo Credit: Microsoft


“Gaming has always been fundamental to what Windows is all about. We build Windows to be a magical place where everyone can play, connect and create,” Sarah Bond, CVP, Microsoft Gaming, said.

Free to Windows 10 users?

Windows 11 will be available through a free upgrade for eligible Windows 10 PCs and on new PCs later this year, according to Microsoft. Windows 10 users can check if their device is eligible for the free upgrade, by going to to download the PC Health Check app.

Microsoft has provided minimum system requirements for Windows 11, which includes a 64-bit processor or SOC (1 GHz or faster with 2 or more cores), 4GB RAM, and 64 GB or larger storage device. Detailed system requirements are also available for certain features that require specific hardware.

Microsoft said it will start sharing an early build of Windows 11 to the Windows Insider Program, next week.

Microsoft has confirmed that Windows 11 will be released on October 5. The new OS will start rolling out to eligible Windows 10 PCs on that day, the company said, adding PCs that come pre-loaded with Windows 11 will also start to become available for purchase.

(Update: This story has been updated with Windows 11’s availability information.)

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Printable version | Oct 22, 2021 2:55:41 PM |

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