Windows 11 Arrives As Free Update, But Users Should Check Compatibility

Microsoft has this week officially made its new Windows 11 update available as a free upgrade for compatible PCs that already have Windows 10 installed.

Microsoft had taken the wraps off the Windows 11 operating system back in June this year, and promised to release it later in the year.

The new operating system (available here) has drawn a mixed reaction, with reviewers mostly positive about the new features and redesigned interface. However reviewers were less positive about Windows 11’s onerous system requirements.

Windows 11

Whilst commendable on a security front, Windows 11 requires UEFI (which does the same job as BIOS) and the PC must also be secure boot capable (for which the motherboard will need a trusted module chip).

Other requirements include at least 4GB of RAM, and a couple more processor cores.

Unfortunately, these requirements (especially the first two) will force those with an older computer to purchase a new machine.

Users are strongly encouraged to download the official Microsoft compatibility app (available here) to see if their current PC or laptop will be capable of running Windows 11.

If their system does not pass muster, then it is time to purchase a new PC.

Backing up a system before attempting the Windows 11 installation cannot hurt either.

What’s new?

On the surface Windows 11 seems to be just a major refresh of the existing Windows user interface, but there are changes underneath hood, besides the new visuals.

The big change however is the visuals, which have been compared to a frosted glass design with rounded corners on Windows etc.

Some have said Microsoft is trying to making Windows look more like Mac OS.

A new start menu has been lifted from Windows 10X, and there is also a widgets panel, but live tiles have been removed.

The taskbar does now looks more like something found on an Apple Mac, and includes a dedicated icon for Microsoft Teams.

Under the hood, there is enhanced support for hybrid architecture processors, as well as support for direct storage.

Windows Store has been redesigned, which can show movies and TV shows regardless of streaming services, and the store is also integrated with the Amazon app store.

This means that Android apps, such as TikTok, can now run inside Windows 11!

Windows 10

For many users, upgrading to Windows 11 will not make sense just yet, especially if their current computers don’t meet the exacting requirements of the new operating system.

A worldwide shortage of processors, plus a deeply stressed global supply chain, has raised the costs of many new computer systems.

It should be remembered that Windows 10 of course was launched back on 29 July 2015, replacing Windows 8.1.

At the launch Microsoft said Windows 10 was intended to be the final version of the operating system.

Indeed, Redmond at the time had dubbed “Windows as a service”, which meant the software would be gradually updated at no extra charge, rather than the company releasing a new operating system every few years.

But that has now changed, after Microsoft earlier this year set a retirement date of 2025 for Windows 10 users.

Holdout users therefore have just over four years to upgrade their hardware.

Hopefully the chip shortage will be over by then.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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