Last month, Microsoft finally unveiled the long-awaited Windows 11 update. The new update comes with an updated user interface, performance and productivity improvements. Microsoft has also released the system requirements for Windows 11 which include Secure Boot and TPM 2.0, but the latter can be bypassed for now.
Windows 11 will look familiar to those who followed the development of Windows 10X closely before its premature death. When Microsoft dropped Windows 10X, the Redmond giant said it plans to bring elements of Windows 1
Start menu and desktop
One of the most noticeable changes for someone starting Windows 11 for the first time will be the desktop. Microsoft has taken the start menu and taskbar directly from Windows 10X, and the company noted that the change was aimed at tablet and touch users.
Fortunately, the Redmond giant offers users an option to choose from a start or center-adjusted start menu available from Settings> Personalization> Taskbar. However, do not celebrate too soon as the company has taken away the opportunity to put it to the top or to the sides.
When you move on to the Start menu, which is also copied from Windows 10X, live tiles are gone. For better or worse, Microsoft has released live tiles on Windows 11, and the start menu now consists of attached apps, as well as a recommendation that suggests you documents and files based on your user history. With the release of the second Windows 11 build, Microsoft also added the search box at the top of the Start menu. Unfortunately, it is not independent and immediately switches to Windows Search, but it is there in case you are interested in using it.
The company has also moved the app list, and it is no longer visible on the start menu. Instead, click on the ‘All Apps’ option to access the full list of installed apps. However, you can pin your favorite tabs on the Start menu and access them immediately, if you wish.
Another major change is the action center, which is divided into two parts – Quick Settings and Notification Area. The notification area displays the latest notifications along with the calendar, while Quick Settings gives users easy access to settings such as WiFi, Bluetooth, brightness and more.
Above the quick settings, there will be media controls that appear if you are playing video or audio. Media Controller supports both first-party apps like Edge and third-party apps like Spotify.
With Windows 11, Microsoft is also bringing back widgets, though not as in Windows 7. Currently, widgets are just an enhanced version of the News and Interests that debuted for Windows 10 back in January 2021. The widgets menu will show users’ weather, traffic patterns, to-do list , calendar, latest news and more.
Widgets are not the only thing making a comeback. Microsoft also includes a new boot sound with Windows 11. The boot sound is something many old Windows users can relate to, and Microsoft has finally decided to include a brand new sound that is softer and a new soothing melody.
Finally, you will also notice a system-wide UI change as Microsoft is now moving towards rounded corners, and they are more pronounced throughout the system. The company has also updated the right-click menu and brings it in line with the new design with larger buttons for touch devices and a rounded user interface.
Microsoft has also updated File Explorer to bring it in line with the overall visual update. The new explorer ditches the top band in favor of fast action buttons. Since Microsoft dropped the tape, the company has added a new drop-down option at the top to accommodate all the tape options.
Apart from that, explorer also received a brand new right-click menu as well as new quick action buttons at the top that are aimed at touch users.
Finally, Microsoft has also included new icons for Windows folders such as Documents, Downloads and Music, as well as the new drive icons.
General features and UI enhancements
Aside from major UI changes, Microsoft has also introduced a system-wide UI in Windows 11, and it appears everywhere, including menus, dialog boxes, pop-ups, and buttons. Furthermore, Microsoft has also added new design elements, including Mica and Acrylic.
Windows 11 also brings a variety of animations. Most of these animations were tested on Windows 10 Insider builds, and they make the system feel snappier and give the user a smooth experience.
With Windows 11, Microsoft is focusing more on enhancing the multitasking experience. The company has introduced snap assistance that will look familiar to PowerToys users. Essentially, snap assist each time a user hovers on the maximize button will give them predefined setups to organize multiple apps.
You can control / disable snap assistance by navigating to Settings> System> Multitasking.
Microsoft will also allow users to set if they want Windows to remember the app layout on multiple screen layouts, so that apps are automatically arranged when a user plugs in an additional screen. You can go to Settings> System> Display and check “Remember window locations based on monitor connection” and “Minimize windows when a monitor is disconnected” under “Scale and layout” to activate the function.
Furthermore, Microsoft will also group apps that are snapped together on the taskbar, so instead of minimizing and maximizing one app at a time, users can minimize or maximize the group.
Finally, Microsoft has also made some improvements to the task view. The new update shows all the apps as it did before, but now you can rename and move your virtual desktops to organize your work. Also, users can now hover over the task view button on the taskbar to see all the virtual desktops and interact with them without any problems.
Microsoft has completely refurbished the Windows settings on Windows 11. The new settings app has a cleaner, more organized and touch-friendly user interface. Microsoft has arranged all the main menu options on the left side with submenu options that take up the majority of the screen area. The new settings app also includes breadcrumbs, so you can quickly jump between pages.
The new user interface also includes updated options for various functions and settings. Microsoft has also included a new battery page that provides more information and may be useful for laptop users.
The company has improved the way it displays related settings, and has moved them to the bottom to accommodate more information.
With Windows 11, Microsoft is also introducing a few new moves. The new gestures include swiping up with three fingers to open Task Manager and swiping down to return to the desktop. The update will also provide the following new shortcuts:
- Windows + A- Open Quick Settings
- Windows + N- Open alerts
- Windows + Z- Open snap layout
- Windows + H- Open voice writing
- Shift + F10- Open the old right-click menu
Microsoft has added some new personalization options to allow users to customize the look and feel of the new operating system. The new options include enhanced dark mode, new system themes, touch keyboard themes on the screen and more. Windows 11 users can navigate to Settings> Personalization> Themes to access six new themes to customize the system.
Furthermore, you can navigate to Settings> Personalization> Touch keyboard to customize the on-screen touch keyboard. The new options include changing the keyboard size, as well as 12 themes to change the look of the keyboard.
With Windows 11, the Microsoft Store enhances the Microsoft Store with a new user interface with fine, rounded corners to suit the overall look of your operating system. The new store also includes some UI changes such as the search box that has been moved to the center. Microsoft has also moved the categories to the left of the app.
The new store will serve as a home for all kinds of apps, including PWA, Win32, Electron and more. Microsoft has also changed the design of the app description page, which looks much better and provides all relevant information about the app.
Last but not least, Microsoft is partnering with Amazon to bring the Amazon App Store to Windows 11. The new store is expected to debut in the coming months and will allow users to install and use the Android app on Windows 11.
Setup and lock screen
The Windows installation interface is still the same as it has been since Windows 7, but Microsoft has completely revised the installation interface. The Windows 11 layout includes the same steps as Windows 10, but with nice round corners on an off-white background that will look familiar to anyone who has used MacOS.
Furthermore, Microsoft has improved the lock screen which looks much better with the new font and small UI improvements. The most noticeable improvement here is the center adjustment of date and time.
Microsoft’s Windows 11 operating system is more than just an update as it introduces a brand new modern user interface that looks and feels much better compared to Windows 10. Apart from the new user interface, improvements made to Windows 11 will ensure that users get the best experience . Microsoft is expected to roll out Windows 11 to existing Windows 10 users by 2022. However, Windows 10 users can try out the new operating system by joining the Windows Insider program.
For more information on the subject, check out our article on minimum system requirements, as well as the list of CPUs that support Windows 11. Apart from the general requirements, Microsoft has also listed specific functional requirements for Windows 11, including webcams, Bluetooth and Precision Touchpad on all upcoming laptops. Last month, Microsoft also updated the PC Health Check app to show why a device is not eligible to receive the Windows 11 update. However, the company will allow some manufacturers to circumvent the TPM 2.0 requirement, and it also allows Windows Insiders with unsupported hardware to test Windows 11 Insider Builds. Several manufacturers have published a list of hardware that will be compatible with Windows 11.