On June 24th Microsoft held an event to announce the next version of Windows called Windows 11. Lot’s of the new features were leaked about a week before the event but there were still more features that had not been confimed until today. Let’s get into what was announced.
The taskbar has gone through a major redesign in Windows 11. Pinned icons and the start icon are now in the centre of the taskbar by default and apps which are opened are placed on the end of the app list. When a new app is opened the other icons on the taskbar are moved to the left to keep the icons centred.
The changes to the taskbar make sense when considering the design of the new start menu. The start menu in Windows 10 was massively over complicated in comparison to the new design, in Windows 10 live tiles were on the right hand side and the app list was on the left but in Windows 11 there are no more live tiles. Instead you have pinned apps and recommended documents when you first open start. From this screen you can then press all apps, which shows all of your apps, the more button next to the recommended section, this shows you more suggested files, the power icon, this shows you power options or your profile icon which shows you options to sign out, lock your pc or switch user.
The search panel in Windows 11 has also been redesigned and is no longer integrated with cortana and instead just shows the most relevant search results. This is a welcome redesign from the previous search which would generally show users irrelevant answers and had a generally annoying interface, at least in my opinion, so this is a very welcome change.
Widgets are also being brought into Windows 11. These are not the old gadgets from Windows 7 however, instead these widgets will be brought in from the left hand side of the screen when the widgets button is pressed on the taskbar. When opened users are presented with widgets such as calendar or weather widget. these are able to be customized by the user. There are also news stories which are based of the users interests. This is basically a redesign of the News and Interests feed in Windows 10.
Microsoft Teams integration
Microsoft teams will also be integrated into the taskbar for Windows 11, this will mean that users will be able to quickly start meetings and that they’ll also be able to search through their recent chat messages without having to open up the whole teams application.
In the video above you can see that Microsoft have also redesigned the task view user interface with a more streamlined view which only shows the available desktops and the applications open on those desktops instead of the previous timeline view that existed before this which used to show recently opened applications and files and was confirmed to be leaving Windows earlier this year.
Another new addition is snap layouts which appear when hovering over the maximise button on an application. As you can see in the image above there are multiple snap layouts including the standard split-screen option with one application on each side of the screen to having three apps side by side. The available configurations can be seen in the gallery below.
New User Interface
Microsoft have also drastically redesigned the Microsoft Store for Windows 11, the new design is more sleeker and much less cluttered then the Windows 10 Store. The new store moves page icons over to the left hand side of the application to make it easier to access and has also made the icons take up less space on the screen.
There are also curated stories and collections which are very similar to the stories in the Apple app store, these show users information to keep them informed about apps and things they can do with their device.
Support for all types of applications
The new store also allows developers to publish traditional desktop applications, UWP and PWA applications to the store so that users can download any app they want from one place, this allows users to discover new apps in one safe and reliable store without the risk of finding these applications on the web.
However, this does not mean that Windows users now have to use the store to find applications and it also doesn’t mean that developers have to give up some of their revenue. In fact it means the opposite, the new store is probably the most open commerce platform I have seen on any operating system in recent years because developers no longer have to use Microsoft’s commerce platform for sales on the Windows store and can instead bring over their own commerce platform to the store and not pay Microsoft any part of their sales revenue.
This new revenue changes only apply to apps. All games will have to use Microsoft’s revenue system.
It’s also been announced that the Amazon Marketplace, Amazon’s app store for android, will be integrated into the Windows Store. This allows users to download and run android applications on their Windows computer. However, due to the use of the Amazon Marketplace instead of the Google Play Store users may have to purchase certain applications a second time if they have purchased them through the Play Store instead of the Amazon Marketplace.
This is an incredible feature for users who would like to use Android apps on their PC but it will take independant testing to see how performance compares to a standard android device.
Pop-Up store for browser.
Another change that’s coming to the Microsoft store is that users will be able to quickly find and download applications from the store directly in the browser. This will allow users to download and install applications without losing place of what they were already doing.
We don’t know whether or not this feature will work in browsers that aren’t Microsoft edge but when I get a chance to test this I will update this story with more information.
A New Settings Design
The settings application has also been redesigned, we didn’t get a massive amount of information regarding this but from the image above we can see that the main catagories are on the left hand side and that the current user profile is at te top of the list of settings.
I’ll update this article with more information when I have a chance to test the new settings application.
Finally, the new Xbox application that has been available for users to test in Windows 10 is being integrated into the Operating System by default. The new application is also home to Xbox Game Pass for PC and Xbox Cloud Gaming for Windows, this allows users to access and download games from xbox Game Pass directly on their PC.
Windows 11 Release Date and System Requirements
Microsoft have announced that Windows 11 will be a free upgrade for all Windows 10 users when it is released to the general public later this year in Holiday 2021. However, the minimum requirements for Windows 11 have changed. Windows 11 now requires a 64-bit processor with 2 or more cores and a processor that supports TPM 2.0. Microsoft have also released the PC Health Check app, Download Here, which allows users to check if their device is compatible with Windows 11. The roll out of Windows 11 will start in holiday 2021 for general consumers.
However, for those users who are in the Windows insider program Microsoft have announced that the first preview of Windows 11 will be rolled out to certain users next week depending on what ring they are in and whether or not their PC meets the minimum or recommended requirements. The image below should help insiders to understand whether or not they will be able to test Windows 11 next week.
I will release an article at somepoint next week regarding the first insider preview of Windows 11 with my opinions of the first preview release.
Update June 26th:
- Added information regarding the new pop-up store for browsers
- Added a link to article regarding policy changes in the Microsoft Store