Microsoft announce their latest OS with a number of new features.
Microsoft have not confirmed an exact date yet but they have suggested that it will initially ship on new hardware from October 2021 but anyone hoping to upgrade there current hardware may have to wait until Q1 2022.
Will upgrades be free?
Like the previous Windows 10 roll-out, Windows 11 should be a free upgrade as long as you have a recent licensed version of Windows.
Will it work on my current hardware?
The hardware requirements have increased from the Windows 10 minimum specifications but these are mainly around requirements for the TPM chip and increased memory capacity.
The Microsoft stated minimum requirements are:
- 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
As with every Windows release ever, to achieve an acceptable level of performance, the recommended specifications will be much higher than the minimum functional statement.
While Microsoft’s minimum requirements are fairly standard, they have implied that even computers which have the TPM 2.0 chipset but are older than an Intel 8th Gen Core or AMD Ryzen 2000 series CPU will not be supported in the final release. This could exclude even fairly recent hardware.
What new features will it have?
New Start Menu
The new Windows Start menu appears by default in the middle of the screen, though this is customisable so it appears on the left. Live tiles have been replaced with simple, colourful icons.
According to Microsoft, the menu uses “the cloud” to show recommended apps and documents, no matter what device you were working on previously. So, for example, if you was working on a document on your mobile, it could then appear on the start menu on your PC when you next log on.
Windows 11 also has a new Search experience. This now appears in a separate window rather than the current text search bar. It is now capable of searching across all your devices and services, as well as using Bing search for the web.
Snap Layouts and Snap Groups
On Windows 11, hovering over the minimize/maximize button gives you a choice of different snap layouts depending on your screen size. So if you have three apps open and enough room, you’ll be offered the option to split evenly between all three or have one take up half the screen and the other two take up a quarter each.
Docking and Undocking Improvements
Windows 11 remembers your docking selection. If you have a tablet or laptop that you dock to an external monitor and then undock, Windows 11 will automatically minimize the windows that were on the external monitor when you disconnect from them and then automatically restore them to the monitor when you reconnect. If you are regularly switching between environments, this could be a significant time saver.
Virtual Desktops Improvements
The virtual desktop experience has been updated to allow each desktop can have its own wallpaper and personalised appearance. This is a great way to ensure separation of work from home and gaming activity.
Teams Integrated with Windows
Microsoft are keen to make Teams the go to communication platform. The Teams icon is now on the taskbar and you will be able to use it to make calls to anyone else who uses Teams on any device, including Android and iOS devices. You will also be able to send and receive SMS messages from the taskbar.
Other new or improved features include Dynamic Refresh Rates, Windows Widgets, a built in Xbox Game Pass, and the ability to launch Android apps directly within Windows.
If you are signed up as a Windows Insider, you can download a Windows 11 preview right now, even if your hardware does not meet all the system requirements but caution is recommended and obviously, keep away from any live production environments.