Microsoft unveils its next operating system Windows 11, and promises Windows 10 users a free upgrade, if the PC is compatible
Microsoft finally took the wraps off the Windows 11 operating system during a live streamed event on Thursday.
It comes after CEO Satya Nadella at the annual Build conference for software developers in May had teased that a significant Windows update was on the way.
But reaction to the new operating system seems to have been mixed, not helped but what some observers such as Linus Tech Tips said was a “dull” live stream event, littered with bugs.
First off the new OS confirms that Microsoft has backtracked over its Windows 10 is the last ever version of Windows commitment, after its retirement date of 2025 was published last week.
At the same time leaks showed the visual changes to the news operating system.
At the launch Microsoft said Windows 10 was intended to be the final version of the operating system.
Indeed, Redmond 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 then the messaging from Redmond began to change.
Firstly in October 2020, Microsoft sources indicated the software giant wanted to ‘reinvigorate’ the Windows 10 user interface, with a significant design refresh to the Windows user interface (UI).
And then in May this year, Microsoft confirmed that it no longer planned to release Windows 10X, designed for lightweight devices.
So what exactly is new about Windows 11?
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 has 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!
Redmond said it would released the Windows 11 by the holidays at the end of the year, but there will be beta access for Windows Insiders to various builds, starting from next week.
Windows 11 should begin to appear on new PCs and laptops in late 2021 therefore, with standalone copies of the new operating system going on sale in early 2022.
There is no word on actual costs of the new OS, but Microsoft has said it will be a free upgrade for existing Windows 10 users.
The new OS does however require UEFI and the PC must be secure boot capable (the motherboard will need a trusted module chip), coupled with at least 4GB of RAM, and a couple more processor cores.
Users download the official Microsoft compatibility app to see if their current PC or laptop will be capable of running Windows 11.
If not, then it is likely to be time to purchase a new PC.
And finally, Microsoft is clamping down on the ability of people to run unregistered (and free) versions of their operating system, after it warned that Internet capability and a Microsoft account is required when setting up the new operating system.