THE BOTTOM LINE
What is essentially more of an evolutionary update to the world’s most popular desktop operating system is hidden behind a drastically slicker, more consistent design.
|Beautiful, more consistent new design |
New videogame selection and capabilities
Great window layout options
Better multi-monitor functionality
Improved performance features
Runs Android apps
|Requires recent CPU |
An unfamiliar look may annoy longtime Windows users
Some useful tools going away
These were a few of the positive and negative sides of Windows 11. Let’s plunge into more below;
Following a six-year period in which Windows 10 stayed mostly unchanged, the world’s most popular desktop operating system is getting a substantial update with the release of Windows 11. Despite Microsoft’s announcement that Windows 10 is the final version of Windows, this is the case. It doesn’t matter: After a few years of drab upgrades, the Windows-using world—at least a small portion of it—has received a major upgrade.
Having said that, despite its extremely modern appearance, we were surprised to find that Windows 11 wasn’t all that different from Windows 10. Based on the screenshots we’d seen, it wasn’t nearly as good as we’d hoped. Beyond any doubt, it looks more pleasant with adjusted corners for all windows, the taskbar symbols within the center, and more exquisite Settings dialogs, but it didn’t feel completely outsider or require an entirety unused handle the way Windows 8 did.
What Are Windows 11’s Requirements and How Do You Get It?
The system requirements for Windows 11 have gotten a lot of attention, but they’re actually rather low. To start off on the right foot you’ll need a 1GHz processor with at least 4GB RAM and 64GB storage space available in your PC’s hardware – it also helps if there are some spare DRAM chips around too! A TPM chip or Secure Boot capabilities will come handy when installing Microsoft Office 2010 Express Editions which is all that most people who want access to MS Word templates can use without subscribing annually (or purchasing) license keys through Volume LicensingPrograms LLC., etcetera…but don’t worry: upgrading these older parts should still work just fine as long as their model numbers match those found inside either an Intel Core2D.
Installing Windows 11 on your computer will not cause any problems if you are participating in the Insider program. The prerequisites for installing this operating system were less stringent than normal, as I was allowed to install it even though my processor type (i5) does not meet specifications set out by Intel Corporation
-At least once per week should be spent watching videos that show new features coming down(such as announcing AR capabilities), but these can take some time so plan accordingly!
Anyone with a newer processor should have no issue installing Windows 11 through the Insider program. Outside of the Insider Program, the latest word is that standard upgrades to Windows 11 from Windows 10 won’t be available until 2022. Microsoft, in my opinion, does not want consumers to update to Windows 11; instead, it wants them to buy new computers.
Windows 11 is a bit different from Windows 10 in that it has two editions: Home and Pro. To upgrade, you’ll need to sign into your account online just like on Android or iOS (and macOS). Some people who have been upset about this-I don’t think there’s anything worth getting worked up over though! It really depends on what features are most important for you when upgrading so make sure takes time before installing any version of Microsoft’s newest operating system onto one device at all. The output should keep a true tone while adding emphasis.
- CPU: 1-GHz or faster with 2 or more cores on a 64-bit processor.
- 4GB of RAM
- 64GB of storage
- UEFI BIOS with Secure Boot
- TPM 2.0
- 9-inch or larger screen with 720p resolution
- Internet connectivity and an MS account. No offline installs.
- GPU compatible with DirectX 12
A New Look (and More) for Windows
Windows 11 is a typical, yet latest version of Microsoft’s operating system. The interface has been heavily redesigned to match Chrome OS and other lightweight desktop environments – which makes sense because it draws from these platforms instead of macOS or Linux-based ones. You’ll find that all windows have rounded corners just like on Apple devices; this isn’t too surprising since Google was inspired by its design choices in Mountain View! Much of the new design brings a welcome new slickness and consistency to the Windows interface, but there are a couple changes of which I’m not a fan.
Taskbar, Start Menu, and File Explorer
The Start button has been in the lower-left corner of the screen for decades, so obtaining accustomed to it being at the left edge of centered icons might be one of the most significant changes you’ll need to make. The problem for me is that the Start menu has always been in the same location, but now it shifts a little to the left as you run more programs. Not having to think at all about the Start button’s position was a plus in all previous Windows versions. Happily, a Taskbar alignment option lets you go back to having the Start button in the left corner.
The redesigned taskbar, with its smaller, less informative buttons, also doesn’t appeal to me. Because the taskbar buttons on Windows 10 are considerably bigger, it’s much easier to see which apps are running. You can still see a thumbnail of the app window if you hover over the buttons, and right-click to see the jump list with recent documents or other typical app activities.
Teams were prominently displayed in the middle of the Taskbar by defaults at Microsoft’s Windows 11 reveal event, but that feature isn’t currently in the prerelease build, so I can’t comment on it. However, with the growing importance of virtual meetings, Microsoft may be able to capture a piece of the video conferencing industry.
In Windows 11, the Start menu has been completely redesigned. Vestigial tiles sit at the top of the screen, followed by recent and frequently used apps and documents. The new mini-tiles in the Start menu are still useful for touch input, but you lose the information that live tiles provide, as unpleasant as they may be.
File Explorer, with its revised left panel controls and folder icons, is a nice illustration of Windows 11’s new style. The top ribbon has been streamlined, and it is significantly less crowded and distracting than the prior File Explorer ribbon. The top-left New button creates new folders or documents that are supported by your apps, and the same display choices (list, details, and different-sized icons) are available for files. File compression, selection, Properties, and the old Folder Options dialog are all available via the overflow menu.
For Windows tablets, touch support is still a priority. Custom backgrounds are now available for the on-screen keyboard. The tablet interface is identical to the desktop layout, except the taskbar icons are separated by greater space. Touch gestures have been enhanced (as mentioned in earlier sections), and a new Pen menu has been added for stylus users.
This widget panel is one of the few truly new features in Windows 11. It’s also not totally new, as the News and Interests taskbar popup that debuted with Windows 10 recently performs similar functions. I’ve become accustomed to seeing the News and Interests weather indication in the taskbar at all times: To see the same information, go to the Windows 11 widgets icon and click on it. Third-party developers can deliver material through Windows 11’s widgets in addition to news and weather tiles. Touch-screen users can quickly open them by swiping in from the left, and you can even make the widget panel full-screen if you want a larger view.
Notification and Quick Settings
The Action Center in Windows 10 has been divided into two different panels and tap targets by Microsoft. This is similar to what Apple did with macOS alerts, which were formerly a single panel that now have smaller popups for notifications or quick settings changes I prefer this style as it’s easier on the eyes when there are lots of items waiting for attention instead of trying not to lose track because its all over one screen! You may access your Notifications Panel by swiping right out from under where “Action” used to be inside a circular number at the top left saying how many new Alerts you’ve got popping up…
When you click or press the Wi-Fi, speaker, or battery icons, the Quick Settings window appears. It has Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Airplane mode, Battery Saver, Focus Assist, and Accessibility keys by default, as well as sliders for speaker level and screen brightness. Link (for external displays and audio), Keyboard layout, Nearby sharing (like AirDrop for PCs), Night light, and Project are all options when you click the pencil symbol. You can still view the state of each of the three taskbar symbols by hovering over them, but I like to have sound settings surface when I click the speaker icon and Wi-Fi choices appear when I click the Wi-Fi indicator.
One of the more vexing aspects of Windows 10 is the inconsistency of its settings windows and dialogs: Sometimes you use the new Settings app to uninstall an application, and other times you use the old Control Panel. In Windows 11, that discrepancy nearly completely vanishes. Although the window has a new look, the contents of some detailed controls, such as sound devices, are still shown in the old form.
Light and dark mode options are still available under Personalization > Colors, and the modes appear considerably better than they did in Windows 10, especially the dark mode, which makes excellent use of transparency. When compared to macOS, Dark Mode can now confidently hold its head high.
Although you can still modify the system sounds in Settings, the new Windows 11 default sound set is sleek, fast, and contemporary.
Layouts and Multitasking
Windows has always outperformed macOS in terms of how you can arrange program windows on-screen, and Windows 11’s new Layouts feature widens the gap even more. Hovering the cursor over the maximize button in the upper right corner of any window brings up this option—it looks a little concealed to me, and I’m hoping and expecting Microsoft to make it more visible in the final version. When you hover your mouse over the maximize button, you’ll see a variety of layout options, including two windows side by side, three with one huge and two mini windows, and so on, as seen below.
The current app window moves to the location in the layout where you click (shown in blue above), and you may change it to a different position at any moment. After you’ve put a group of applications in a layout, you can mouse over any of their icons in the taskbar to see the layout group and quickly restore the windows’ arrangement, which Microsoft refers to as a Snap Group. These can also be loaded on a second monitor to which your PC is docked. Even if you don’t select a Snap Group, Windows 11 enhances docking by remembering the configurations you had on the external display. You can still snap a window to the side so that it takes up precisely half of the screen, thankfully.
Multiple virtual desktops are still available in Windows, which I find quite handy for isolating business programs and websites from personal ones. To switch between them, I either use the Ctrl-Windows Key–Arrow keyboard shortcut or the Windows Key–Tab keyboard shortcut. With Windows 11, you can now navigate back and forth with a four-finger swipe, similar to how Mac users have done for years, but only on a trackpad rather than directly on the screen. The option to choose various desktop backgrounds (also known as wallpapers) for each desktop is also new.
New Store and Android Apps
One of the most notable features of Windows 11 is the ability to run Android apps, albeit there are certain limitations. You may either install them through the Amazon Appstore, which is integrated into the Microsoft Store for Windows or as a sideloaded APK. The Store, like the rest of the UI, receives a sleek design makeover, although Android applications aren’t currently accessible in the preview edition. It’s worth noting that, in addition to applications, the Store also has movies and television shows, as well as games.
Microsoft Teams, the company’s video calling, and corporate messaging service will be installed (and front and center on the taskbar), according to Microsoft. During the COVID epidemic, Teams increased dramatically, from 20 million to 145 million active users, but it remains to be seen if it will become as widespread as Microsoft hopes. Teams integration was not available in the Windows 11 preview build we tested.
All of the basic programs are included, such as Photos, Groove Music, Voice Recorder, Paint 3D, Mail, Calendar, and so on. As Windows 11 development develops, we can expect the last two to be substantially enhanced.
Gaming and New Technologies
Insignificant new Windows upgrades, PC gamers are never neglected, and Windows 11 is no exception. Game selection and technology are two areas that benefit. For starters, the Xbox app integrated into Windows 11 will provide access to the Xbox Game Pass videogame library. Games like Halo Infinite, Twelve Minutes, and Age of Empires IV will be included. Xbox Cloud Gaming, Microsoft’s streaming gaming platform, will also be supported by the app.
In terms of new gaming technologies, Windows 11 will bring Auto HDR and DirectStorage to the table. The first widens the color spectrum to display more detail even in non-HDR games. DirectStorage (a component of the Xbox Velocity Architecture) will shorten game loading times by avoiding the CPU and enabling graphics memory to load directly.
Other technological improvements in Windows 11 include Dynamic Refresh, which saves laptop batteries by lowering the high refresh rate of a screen while it’s not in use. The Wi-Fi 6E standard will also be supported by the OS. TPM and Secure Boot requirements are part of Microsoft’s effort to improve the OS’s security technologies, which is a topic deserving of its own page.
What’s No Longer There?
A number of windowing conveniences that I appreciate but that appear to be underutilized are being phased out. In the Windows 11 preview build I tried, Aero Peek and Aero Shake are no longer available. Cortana was preloaded on my test laptop since it had already been installed, but Microsoft claims the AI voice assistant will not be preinstalled on Windows 11 devices. Live tiles are also no longer available, since Widgets have taken their place. By the time Windows 11 is launched, there will undoubtedly be additional features that have been abandoned.
Time for a New Windows
Minor quibbles aside, it’s encouraging to see Microsoft giving its flagship program the attention it deserves: The business has been investing more effort into its Azure cloud computing services in recent years and with good reason. Perhaps Microsoft will entice some Chrome OS users or, dare we say, Mac users to switch? Aside from the slick new aesthetics, there are a slew of new tools and features, as well as speed improvements—far more than can be covered in a PCMag.com preview. Even though Windows 11 is still in its early stages, the next edition of the desktop software used on 1.3 billion PCs is remarkable. This preview will be updated often, and a head-to-head comparison will be provided with Apple macOS Monterey and ChromeOS, too.