On June 24th, 2021, Microsoft announced the next major release of their operating system - Windows 11. It is expected to release to consumers in late 2021, sometime between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve. Microsoft is trying to keep up with the times and offer an experience that allows more flexibility and direct access to all aspects of life today. This means access to apps that were previously only available on Chromebooks and the ability to take Windows with you wherever you go and keep a platform to work, play and create. Clearly pandemic-inspired, Teams is now built-in and intended to offer a better experience than Zoom. We will see. Later this year, especially around the holidays, new devices will come with Windows 11 pre-installed. Windows 11 is 64bit only and will also require something called Trusted Platform Module or “TPM” chips on new devices. It is a significant hardware change that is years in the making and all about security. TPM is intended to protect encryption keys, user credentials, and other sensitive data behind a hardware barrier so that malware and attackers cannot access or tamper with that data.
Should We Upgrade Immediately? Although Microsoft claims Windows 11 is intended as the most stable version of its operating system, we recommend you wait to upgrade to ensure compatibility with the various, industry-specific programs in use on your PCs today. Windows 10 will remain supported through 2025.
Is The Upgrade to Windows 11 Free? If the machine is compatible and there is a valid Windows 10 license, the upgrade to Windows 11 is free. Microsoft supplies a PC Health Check app for download that will check device compatibility.
What Are the Big Differences Between Windows 10 and Windows 11? Microsoft created Windows 11 with a goal of offering a "cloud-powered" operating system that has a more modern feel but is still familiar enough to existing Windows users to continue working, learning, and playing. There is a new interface and several new features aimed at enhancing productivity as more of the world works between home and the office.
Android Apps: Windows 11 not only supports Android apps and lets them run natively, but many are pre-installed in the operating system and available through the newly designed Microsoft Store. Android apps appear in the new Microsoft Store via Amazon's Appstore. This means it is necessary to download the Amazon Appstore to access the nearly 500,000 apps available there, including Disney Plus, Tik Tok, Netflix, Pinterest, Uber and more.
Widgets: Windows 11 includes an AI-powered customizable feed called “Widgets” that slides out to show information such as news, weather, a glimpse at your calendar and to-do list and recent photos. Widgets are like a feature called news and interests found in a recent Windows 10 update. There is a button for Widgets on the newly redesigned taskbar. Clicking on it reveals a panel that slides out from the left side of the screen with “at-a-glance” information.
Microsoft Teams: Windows 11 includes Microsoft's video chat platform Teams built directly into the operating system, making it easier to access for daily use. The ability to connect with others on Teams across Windows, Android, Mac or iOS is now easy. Teams appears in the taskbar and, when clicked, launches the Chat tool, allowing the choice to message, text, voice or video call a contact. Click “Meet” or “Chat” and choose who you want to contact.
Desktops: Windows 11 allows easy creation of separate virtual desktops for each part of your life, allowing customization for each one with different wallpapers, sounds, etc. The idea is to allow a different desktop for personal use, work, school, gaming or anything else, and easily switch between them. To access the different desktops, scroll to the bottom of the screen and a window slides up with the different the desktops created, allowing a switch back and forth between them with one click.
Snap Layouts: This feature is especially useful for people who work on a laptop with external monitors. When working with a bunch of open windows, Windows 11 allows arrangement in different layouts on the screen and saves all the windows in that arrangement. This now mean, when the laptop is unplugged from the external monitors the layout stays the same! To control this, use the button on an open window that looks like a square in the top right corner appears in between the X and the minimize button. Click that to see different layout options for that window and select the preferred layout and the position to place that window.
There is no doubt more information and questions will arise as the operating systems is released in Beta and for developers. We are testing and reviewing all aspects of this new OS as they become available. Please contact us with any questions, concerns or feedback.