The next version of Microsoft’s operating system, Windows 11, was announced this June 24th. A free upgrade for eligible Windows 10 PCs, the new OS will be pushed out near the end of the year. The single-most noticeable change from older versions? Probably the Start button moving to the center of the taskbar from the left side (though you can change it back). The taskbar itself can only be located at the bottom of the screen.
Microsoft Windows remains the most commonly-used computer operating system in the world. With this upgrade, the company clearly aims to keep competing with Apple and Google to stay on top. Apple’s macOS Big Sur can now run iOS and iPadOS apps natively on M1-powered Macintosh computers. Chromebooks can install Android apps… and Windows 11 PCs can, too. While Microsoft isn’t allowing the Google Play Store on its OS, the Amazon Appstore will be available, and Android apps can be sideloaded as well.
If you’ve been clinging to Internet Explorer in spite of Microsoft replacing the browser with Edge, well, it will finally be removed in Windows 11. Edge does have IE mode for those sites that lag behind. Another area where Microsoft is playing catch-up with Apple is desktop widgets. While Windows has had various widget-like functionality since Vista, it hasn’t taken off the way macOS’ Notification Center widgets did. And while macOS doesn’t support touch, Windows already does and 11 looks set to make it friendlier.
PCs are of course a huge platform for gaming, and new features in Windows 11 will improve the speed, performance, and appearance of PC games. The Xbox app will also be installed by default, allowing access to your Xbox library and cloud gaming (with a subscription) right on the PC.
The Redmond, WA company also announced Windows 365 last month. The “cloud PC” will allow you to set up a virtual computer that can be accessed via a Web browser or RDP client, even from a late-model iPad. A fast and reliable Internet connection is required, needless to say. The ability to access the same applications and data from any device, anywhere makes it very appealing for businesses. Cloud services have been available in a server model for some time now, but Microsoft is looking to change the game by making Windows 10 (or eventually Windows 11) PCs available in the cloud. As the system requirements for the new operating system are more stringent and some older devices will be left behind, Windows 365 could be an option worth considering.
Early adopters or beta testers of an OS upgrade can often expect a bumpy ride. Waiting a few weeks to upgrade makes for a better experience, as bugs are discovered and addressed, and application updates allow for better compatibility. That being said, we are looking forward to getting our hands on (and under the hood of) Windows 11… how about you?