Microsoft has officially lifted the veil off Windows 11, giving the platform a new look that it says is centered at the use. We wanted to highlight five new features that we’re excited about with this new version of Windows.
The new Start menu
The first noticeable difference is that Windows 11 moves the Start menu to the center of the taskbar, which Microsoft carried over from the now-canceled Windows 10X. And yes, it also looks like macOS. If you aren’t down with this new look, you can still revert to having the Start menu at the left-hand corner.
Microsoft gets rid of Live Tiles and goes for a more simplified launcher similar to what you see on Chrome OS or Android. In the menu, you’ll see app icons, recent documents, and a search interface. The recent documents in the Recommended section are files you’ve opened and worked on recently. If you use Microsoft 365 productivity suite on other devices, it’ll be easy to see what you’ve worked on your desktop now.
Light and Dark modes have been updated, and apps have more rounded corners now, too.
And Microsoft Teams is now integrated into Windows 11 with consumers. It’s directly accessible through the taskbar, so you can quickly call friends, family, or co-workers from that window. It seems we might need to say goodbye to Skype, or rather, Microsoft wants you to use Teams beyond your work needs.
As a response to the past year of heavy video conferencing use, Microsoft also now has a universal mute button in the system tray, allowing you to mute microphone access across all apps.
Arranging in a Snap
It’s now easier to “snap” apps side by side with a new Snap Layouts feature. Windows 11 even gives you suggestions on app layouts to use.
With this new version of Windows, the OS can also remember what apps you’ve grouped through a feature called Snap Groups. That means you can easily pull up open apps and windows you’re working on in the position you left them. Quite handy and a simple way to keep track of your work.
Windows 11 will even remember what apps you have open if you use multiple displays. When you reconnect to an external monitor that has apps arranged to your liking, Windows will pull up the exact layout again for you.
This is more of an under-the-hood thing, but Windows 11 gets a performance boost. And when it comes to updates, these are now 40% smaller and are said to only work in the background. Let us hope that a Windows update never interrupts us in the middle of a workday again.
With Xbox being a big part of Microsoft’s business, it isn’t surprising that the two platforms are getting better integration. Xbox Series X and S’s Auto HDR will be coming to Windows 11, so those with compatible HDR monitors and games can enjoy the quality boost in their games.
DirectStorage is also coming to Windows 11. With the latest NVMe drives, you can speed up game load times. Developers can enable this technology to make load times even faster.
Xbox Game Pass is also coming to the new Windows with the Xbox app that Microsoft has been testing for months. Of course, that also includes xCloud integration, so those who stream games through Microsoft’s cloud can enjoy that on their PCs, too.
Android on Windows 11
A big talking point from the Windows 11 launch is that Microsoft’s OS will be getting native Android app integration. But it’s slightly complicated than that. Microsoft partnered with Intel and Amazon to make this feature happen.
Basically, you’ll get access to Android apps like TikTok and Instagram with the help of Amazon’s app store. Microsoft used Intel Bridge tech to make this happen, allowing you to have Android apps work side-by-side with Windows apps. When you attempt this for the first time, you will need to sign in to your Amazon account to access the app store. Once you’ve set that up, then you can download the apps through the Microsoft Store.
These are just the tip of the iceberg for what’s coming to Windows 11, but we wanted to talk about things we’re excited to see. Microsoft hasn’t given an official release date for Windows 11 yet, but it will come as a free upgrade for Windows 10 users this upcoming holiday season.