Windows 10 was billed as the last Windows OS you’ll ever need. So of course, it’s time to meet Windows 11, “a calm and creative space”, according to Microsoft. The rumour mill has been grinding away for months, wondering what Microsoft’s newest operating system in over 6 years will look like. Now that Microsoft have finally released more information around it, let’s take a look at what we can expect when it’s released at the end of 2021.
Where to ‘Start’
From their reveal and early-insider reports, the drastic changes we saw going from Windows 7 to Windows 8 are a thing of the past. Instead, most will agree that on first-look Windows 11 looks like a more refined version of Windows 10 than something dramatically new. Visually, the biggest changes you’ll notice are along the taskbar. Microsoft has centred the app icons here, cleaned up the tray/notifications area, and included a “rejuvenated” Start button and menu (though you can move it back to the left if you’d prefer).
A New Look
A big talking point of Windows 11 is the new rounded corners. While not an overhaul in functionality, it is a big design change, with many commenting on the similarities to the design of Apple’s Mac OS.
File Explorer has new icons and animations, but still serves the same purpose as before and the Settings menu has been reorganised (again) to make it easier to make changes to your system.
New themes have been added, including Dark Mode to save your eyes when working for long periods.
Widgets are Back!
That’s right, Widgets; the most (or ‘only’) beloved part of Windows Vista is making a comeback. Exactly what these are going to include has yet to be expanded on in any meaningful way, but expect to see a lot of fan-favourites such as news, weather, and productivity widgets like note-taking, calculator, etc.
Microsoft has foregone Skype and have instead integrated Teams directly into the Windows 11 taskbar, enabling users to connect with anyone else via text, voice or video, no matter what platform or device they’re on. Users will also be able to mute and unmute calls and present directly from the Taskbar. Not only that, but a change in the software architecture means that accounts on “Teams 2.0” will take up half the memory it currently would. This architecture also means multiple Teams accounts can be held on the same device.
On the Move vs Sitting Still
If you like to work with several monitors as much as you like to take your laptop on the move, then good news: Windows 11 makes it easier than ever to connect and disconnect to tabletop monitors. When you disconnect, your PC will remember where the apps were, and put them back on the same monitors they were on before.
Microsoft have expanded their reach by giving the Microsoft Store a facelift, and have also added the ability to download Amazon-based Android apps to use on your computer. Using Intel Bridge tech, they function like regular apps. You can pin them to your taskbar/start bar, snap-to windows for easier background watching.
You can set up different desktops, depending what you’re working on. That means you can have a setup for home, work, and even when you’re sharing your screen and want your viewers to see a blank desktop. Different wallpapers make it easy to identify which desktop you’re looking at.
Overall, Windows 11 looks promising. Being largely a visual change from Windows 10, along with some refinements and new features, means this could well be the OS to break the Good/Bad/Good/Bad cycle of past Windows releases.
We will be helping customers to upgrade when we agree the time is right to do so for them. The Windows 10 retirement date has been set by Microsoft as 14th October 2025, so there’s no rush to install Windows 11 just yet. They’ve also said that the “upgrade rollout plan is being finalised and is scheduled to begin in late 2021 and continue into 2022. Specific timing will vary by device.”
As always, if you have any questions or concerns about this, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.