Last week, Microsoft revealed the newest generation of their ubiquitous operating system: Windows 11. Here’s what you need to know about the upcoming update:
Microsoft’s blog states that Windows 11 is designed for “productivity, creativity and ease” and features a fresh, clean interface. The Start button and icons have been moved to the center of the taskbar, which is very reminiscent of the MacOS dock. The Start menu has also moved to the center of screen, and features dynamic content based on recent files, even if they were viewed on a different device. This is designed to be intuitive and simple, enabling users to quickly find what they need.
Remember the widgets from Windows Vista? Microsoft 11 brings widgets back to Windows with a modernized look and an AI-powered feed. Widgets appear in a translucent window “like a sheet of glass,” again giving a Mac-like feel.
Windows 11 will introduce multitasking features that will allow users to snap windows together and arrange them in different layouts. It will also allow a user to create multiple desktops, to easily compartmentalize and switch between different roles like work, school, etc.
Another key feature is built-in chat, voice and video messaging, powered by Microsoft Teams. While Teams is primarily known as a business/productivity application, Microsoft is pushing hard for users to also adopt Teams to communicate with family and friends. The Teams integration is designed to be cross-platform, across PCs and mobile devices.
Of course, we wouldn’t be AllSafe IT without mentioning how Windows 11 will handle security. Microsoft says that Windows 11 will be “secure by design” with built-in security features “from the chip to the cloud.” The chip being Microsoft’s Trusted Platform Module (TPM) chip, which will come with all certified Windows 11 PCs and serve as a hardware barrier to protect sensitive data. And the cloud including Windows 11's built-in support for Microsoft Azure Attestation (MAA), which verifies the trustworthiness of a platform before a user interacts with it. These features raise the security baseline from the hardware level, which should be combined with multi-layered security solutions for ultimate protection.
A specific release date was not given at the June 24th announcement, but Microsoft indicated that upgrades will start rolling out “this holiday and continuing into 2022.”
PCs running Windows 10 will be able to upgrade to Windows 11 for free, provided they meet the minimum requirements, which are detailed below.
Microsoft has provided the following minimum requirements for machines currently running Windows 10 to be eligible for the free upgrade:
The big stumbling block here is the TPM 2.0 requirement. You can check if your computer has TPM 2.0 by going into Device Manager and looking under Security Devices.
If you’re still not sure, you can run the PC Health Check app provided by Microsoft (scroll towards the bottom of the page) to check if your PC meets the requirements to run Windows 11.