What Is Windows 11?
Windows 11 is Microsoft’s new perspective on the future of PC operating systems (OSs) today. It is the current Windows OS version that delivers a range of new features designed for simplicity. The design is modern, clean, and intentional to inspire user creativity and productivity.
Windows 11 Features
Windows 11 has several innovative improvements for efficiency. For example, the redesigned Settings app now features a persistent left menu to make it easier to navigate to another group from nested settings.
Many of the standby applications have been updated for look and/or features, including the Clock app, which now offers a productivity feature: Focus Sessions. Focus Sessions lets you set boundaries for undistracted time so you can zero in on getting tasks done.
The Photos app can now not only organize and edit photos with both an edge-to-edge photo and multi-image views, but can also handle video editing with titles, transitions, and effects. It also includes features like face recognition, autogenerated albums, and integrated location data for photos. At the same time, the new Media Player app can handle both music and video, including FLAC audio and 4K video.
Microsoft Teams is a key functionality. As a result, Chat from Teams is now integrated into the Windows taskbar so you can instantly connect with others regardless of the platform they’re on—Windows, Android, or iOS. If the other person does not yet have the Teams app, this feature allows you to connect with them via two-way SMS.
When you use Windows 11 on a tablet that has no keyboard, the touch experience has been improved with more space for icons in the taskbar, adding larger touch targets and the ability to resize and move windows more easily. New haptics make using your pen more immersive in that you can hear and feel vibrations as you click through to edit or sketch in a document. And if you prefer voice to text or voice typing, Windows 11 comes with voice commands and can automatically punctuate for you.
Design and Functionality
Windows 11 offers a new visual interface via Microsoft’s Fluent Design language, which emphasizes rounded corners, centered text, and bigger, more colorful icons. It comes with Snap Assist, which enables you to snap multiple apps to different-sized grid layouts on your screen. Rather than using drag-and-drop or a keyboard shortcut, you hover your pointer to use a visual pop-up where you can select your preferred grids layout to optimize your screen real estate. Your Windows 11 system will remember the last app layout used when you dock or plug in to a monitor.
Another handy feature of Windows 11 is that you can create and customize separate virtual desktops for each part of your life, such as work, school, and gaming, with unique background colors, images, and preferred snap layouts. The new Task View button on the taskbar helps you organize and switch between different desktops.
A key visual difference with Windows 11 is the new streamlined taskbar and Start menu. All the icons, including the Start menu, are now placed in the center of your taskbar instead of the left corner, although you can move it back to the left if you prefer. The Start menu shows your recent files, regardless of the platform or device you used to view them, including Android or iOS. It also allows you to create folders to organize your apps with different layouts for the menu.
You can use the search bar that shows two customizable sections: pinned apps and recommended files or apps, such as recently opened files. There is also a dedicated widgets button where you can get the latest information on such things as news, sports, weather, stocks, and entertainment.
In Windows 10, several background apps, like OneDrive and Skype, run by default. That is not the case with Windows 11, which prioritizes foreground apps and has fewer default background processes consuming resources. As a result, if your PC has less RAM and CPU power, Windows 11 will enable better performance.
The Task Manager has been visually refreshed and includes a new efficiency mode that enables you to limit how many resources can be used by specific apps.
Windows 11 gives full range to the gaming potential of your system’s hardware, including:
- DirectX 12 Ultimate enables immersive graphics at high frame rates on supported games.
- DirectStorage delivers fast—nearly instant—load times and more-detailed game worlds.
- Auto HDR offers a wider, more vivid range of colors and brightness for a rich visual experience.
Microsoft collaborated with Intel and the Amazon Appstore so that, thanks to Intel Bridge Technology, you can now natively use select Android apps in Windows 11. That means certain Android apps can be installed from the Microsoft Store and then run in an Android subsystem inside Windows 11.
As it’s the latest Microsoft OS, manufacturers are prioritizing Windows 11 as the go-to operating system for new devices, so your new PC will use Windows 11 out of the box.
Protecting your computer from viruses and other types of attacks that attempt to steal your information and data is of utmost importance. Windows 11 includes several new built-in security features in addition to its existing security tools, Windows Security and Microsoft Defender.
The new Windows 11 security features help to further protect your device. For example, a security alarm has been added to help prevent hackers or malware from accessing data. Newer CPUs will enable features that reduce the impact of viruses and malware attacks. Another protection guarantees that only valid software can run on the device. And identity validation is required to access your system each time you use it, further protecting your device from unwanted access.
To ensure a great computing experience, before you upgrade to Windows 11, you will need to confirm that your current computer meets Microsoft’s minimum performance requirements.
To help make it easy for you to determine if your system is eligible for a Windows 11 upgrade, we’ve outlined the necessary steps and tools to use in our article, “How to find if your system is eligible for Windows 11.”
Here are the system requirements to upgrade your device to Windows 11:
- Operating system: Your device must already be running Windows 10, version 2004 or later, to upgrade to Windows 11.
- Processors/central processing units (CPUs): The processor in your PC will be a main determining factor for running Windows 11. Your PC must have a processor frequency of 1 GHz or faster, have two or more cores, and appear on Microsoft’s list of approved CPUs. Learn how to identify information about your processor.
- Random access memory (RAM): Your PC will need at least 4 GB of RAM.
- Storage: Your PC will need at least 64 GB for storage. Note that extra storage space may be required to download updates and enable specific features.
- System firmware: Your device must have Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI), a modern version of the PC BIOS, and be Secure Boot capable.
- Trusted Platform Module (TPM): Your device should have TPM version 2.0.
- Graphics card: Your device must be compatible with DirectX 12 or later with a WDDM 2.0 driver.
- Display: Your device needs a high-definition (720p) display that is at least nine inches diagonally or greater, with eight bits per color channel, in order to show the intended user interface of Windows.
- Internet connectivity and Microsoft accounts: Windows 11 Home edition requires internet connectivity and a Microsoft account to complete your device setup.
Should You Keep Windows 10?
When considering the upgrade, you might find that your PC does not meet the Windows 11 system requirements, as it may be an older or incompatible device. You might also decide you prefer your legacy applications or current interfaces. However, should you decide it’s time to upgrade your device, there are plenty of options when you are ready.
One Last Consideration
Provided your PC meets the requirements, upgrading from Windows 10 to Windows 11 should be a straightforward process. The last decision is determining when you are ready to try something new.