Microsoft has unveiled Windows 11, bringing the first major update to the Windows platform since Windows 10 launched in 2015. During a virtual event last Friday, key features of Windows 11 were released that aim to better integrate within our new cyber reality. As PC usage has shifted dramatically over the past 18 months due to the pandemic, Microsoft are looking to capitalise on our increasingly digital way of life.
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Key New Features Of Windows 11
Windows 11 has had a face lift and now features a new Mac-like design with rounded corners, pastel shades, and a centred start menu and Taskbar. The iconic Start Button will be in a new spot for the first time since Windows 95. “We put Start at the centre. It puts you at the centre,” said Panos Panay, chief product officer at Microsoft. “It’s what you need, closer to you, simplified.” Now before the Windows purists freak out, you can move it back to the left if you prefer.
Android App Integration
Microsoft has announced Android apps will be coming to Windows 11, delighting users who have long waited for the merging of mobile and laptop devices. Previously on Windows 10, there were ways to access Android Apps, including if you had a Samsung Galaxy phone, but this now makes it native with the new Microsoft store, via the Amazon Appstore. For example, recording a Tik Tok video or using Khan Academy Kids for virtual learning can now be executed from your PC.
Virtual Desktops, Snap Layouts & Snap Groups
Multi-tasking is crucial to the modern PC experience, and users can now optimise screen real estate through Windows 11 Snap layouts and Snap Groups. This is designed to offer flexibility of multiple windows and ability to snap apps side by side. Also, you can now toggle easily between different virtual desktops similar to Macs and customise them to your liking – imagine having a separate desktop for work, gaming, and personal interests.
Microsoft Teams Integration
Teams has received a massive upgrade and will now live in the Windows taskbar. Like how FaceTime operates on a Mac, users will have speedy access to Teams video conferencing. Now you can instantly connect through text, chat, voice or video with all your personal contacts, anywhere, regardless of the platform or device they’re on, across Windows, Android or iOS. If the person you’re connecting to on the other end hasn’t downloaded the Teams app, you can still connect with them via two-way SMS.
Xbox Tech To Improve Gaming
For the gamers, Windows 11 puts some of the latest Xbox gaming technology into your PC including Auto HDR and DirectStorage. Auto HDR makes it easy to turn on high dynamic range to optimise the visual experience. In addition, DirectStorage loads a game’s assets directly to the graphics card to prevent the processor from being bogged down. The Xbox app will also be built into Windows 11, giving Xbox Game Pass subscribers the ability to download from the catalogue of games the service provides, and stream titles via Xbox cloud gaming. Cross-play between PCs and consoles is also available.
Microsoft announced there is a new way to access content via Widgets. An evolution of the Interests Feature currently available in Windows 10, Widgets on the upgraded platform is an AI-powered personalised feed that shows information like weather, news, your calendar, to do lists and recent photos. According to Microsoft, the information will adapt to your interests to create a personalised content hub that you can rearrange and resize.
While the host of new features certainly has fans champing at the bit for a new Windows upgrade, it does come with a catch. Recent reports have suggested that Windows 11 may not be compatible with your existing computer.The minimum system requirements reveal that it will only work on 64-bit computers, capable of supporting UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface). Windows 11 also requires a Trusted Platform Module, version 2.0, which is an encryption engine embedded in newer computers that may not be available on your current PC. Windows 10 already supports these features, however, they aren’t a requirement.
With no exact date set for its release, Windows 11 is expected to be made available as a free upgrade for current Windows 10 user’s near the end of 2021.
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