In 2015, Microsoft unveiled Windows 10, the latest addition to their operating system series. It was reported to be the final major version of Windows for the discernible future. However, in June 2021 , Microsoft revealed a new version of Windows – Windows 11, which would be available to compatible Windows 10 devices (running an activated product key version of it) as a free upgrade via Windows Update.
It was officially announced at a virtual event hosted by Chief Product Officer Panos Panay. According to Satya Nadella, the current CEO of Windows, Windows 11 is "a re-imagining of the operating system". Further details for developers such as updates to the Microsoft Store, the new Windows App SDK (code-named "Project Reunion"), new Fluent Design guidelines, and more were discussed during another developer-focused event on the same day.
Hardware wise, the new Windows 11 will unfortunately only be supporting 64-bit systems such as those using an x86-64 or ARM64 processor; IA-32 processors are no longer supported. T he minimum RAM and storage requirements were also increased; Windows 11 will be requiring at least 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage.
The new version seems to be aiming towards a fresh, futuristic, clean aesthetic - the design and user experience has been simplified to “inspire creativity”, according to Microsoft. The new Start button and taskbar has been placed at the centre of the desktop. However, there is a way to switch back for those who prefer the more familiar bottom-left configuration of the Start Button.The Start menu has been significantly redesigned, replacing the "live tiles" used by Windows 8.x and 10 with a grid of "pinned" applications, and a list of recent applications and documents.
Task View, a feature introduced in Windows 10, will feature a refreshed design, and supports giving separate wallpapers to each virtual desktop. The window snapping functionality has been enhanced with two additional features; "snap layouts" allows the user to select a pre-determined layout they want to use for tiling multiple windows onto a display. The tiled arrangement of windows can be minimized and restored from the taskbar as a "snap group".
Windows 11 also features a new font, Segoe UI Variable. The font has been designed to scale better with monitors with a higher amount of dots per inch, which the old Segoe UI did not account for. Other changes to the system include new system icons, animations, sounds, and widgets. A new design for the File Explorer and Windows Settings apps were also previewed.
The most attractive feature of the new update may be the integration to Android applications, for Windows 11 will reportedly allow users to install and run Android apps onto their device using the new Windows Subsystem for Android (WSA) and the Android Open Source Project (AOSP). These apps can be obtained from within the Microsoft Store via the Amazon Appstore, in partnership with Amazon. This feature will require a Microsoft account, an Amazon account, and a one-time install for Windows Amazon Appstore client. Users can also install Android apps through any source using the Android application package (APK) file format.
Based on reactions by educated professionals, the reception to the pre-builds and the teasers has been mostly positive. Windows 11 has been praised for it’s cross platform compatibility, user-friendly interfaces that still aim to be inventive and creative, and emphasis on productivity. Though there have been those with misgivings (particularly people who are not comfortable with the strict requirements, physical and digital, required to access it in its entirety), Microsoft’s consistently good reputation makes most of us hopeful that Windows 11 will be another excellent – if not game changing – entry in the most popular operating system series in the world.
Windows 11 is set for an official worldwide release in late 2021.