Windows 11 has officially been revealed, and looks to feature a great number of improvements on Microsoft’s current operating system: Windows 10.
But what are the major differences between the two, and are they enough to justify an upgrade? We’ve assembled a list of the most significant differences, so you know which improvements you should look forward to when making the switch to Windows 11. So without further ado, they are:
A centralised taskbar and new design
The most obvious change for Windows 11 is a new centralised taskbar, which looks very similar to the macOS layout. It looks far cleaner than Windows 10’s counterpart, which takes up half of the length of the desktop with a long search bar added in the middle.
Click the Start Menu on Windows 10, and you’ll see a list of all of the programmes installed on your PC. You also get a view of Live Tiles, with a look at the weather, your photo album and various Microsoft apps.
The Windows 11 Start Menu instead displays your pinned apps, with a search bar letting you locate your less used programmes. There’s also a recommended section that shows your recent activity so you can jump right back into your last used word document, spreadsheet or Photoshop project. This results in a more personalised experience, even letting you align the taskbar to the left of your screen if you prefer the older layout.
Improved multitasking with Snap Desktop
Windows 10 already enables you to view multiple windows simultaneously, but it’s a drag-and-drop affair, which can look pretty scruffy and has plenty of scope for things to go wrong.
Windows 11 is introducing Snap Layouts, which makes it easier to have multiple windows open at once. Simply pick from one of the different templates, and then your selected windows and apps will automatically snap into place and resize accordingly. Microsoft showed this feature off, with Powerpoint, Edge and Teams all displayed simultaneously, and it looked effortlessly slick.
Teams Chat integration
Microsoft’s messaging app Teams launched back in 2017, two years after the release of Windows 10. As such, it became an optional app as an alternative to the likes of Slack.
For Windows 11, Teams will play a much bigger part. The Chat functionality will be built into the main taskbar, making it very easy and quick to send a colleague or friend a message. You’ll also be able to start a video call through the service, allowing you to even contact those on Android and iOS platforms. And if your friend doesn’t have Teams installed, you can still communicate via a two-way SMS.
Android apps on the Microsoft Store
Microsoft is rebuilding the Microsoft Store from the ground up for Windows 11, introducing a cleaner and more organised layout. The biggest change here though, is that the Microsoft Store will support Android apps via Amazon’s Appstore.
This means you’ll gain access to a far larger app library this time round, although the Android apps will be displayed in a phone-like vertical display that isn’t optimised for computer monitors. The usefulness of such apps remains to be seen, but it does mean you’ll be able to record and post videos for Tik Tok straight from your Windows device.
Microsoft will also be introducing more native apps to the Microsoft Store for Windows 11, including Visual Studio, Disney+, Adobe Creative Cloud, Zoom and Canva.
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Improved gaming features
There’s no question about it, Windows 11 will be a better operating system than Windows 10 when it comes to gaming.
The former will be borrowing some Xbox Series X features to improve the visual quality of games, such as Auto HDR which automatically adds HDR enhancements to games built on DirectX 11 or higher. Microsoft showed Skyrim as an example, and the improved colours were immediately obvious.
The new DirectStorage will also allow those with a high-performance NVMe SSD to see even faster loading times, as games will be able to load assets to the graphics card without ‘bogging down’ the CPU.
DirectX 12 Ultimate will also be supported, ensuring you can get the best possible gaming performance when paired with high-end components. In short, you’ll want to install Windows 11 if you’re a PC gamer.
Fussier system requirements
It’s not all good news for Windows 11, as the new operating system is a lot fussier in terms of system requirements compared to Windows 10.
You can see the difference in specs requirements in the table below:
|Windows 11||Windows 10|
|Processor||1GHz or faster with 2+ cores on a 64-bit processor/SoC||1GHz or faster processor/SoC|
|RAM:||4GB||1GB for 32-bit / 2GB for 64-bit|
|Storage||64GB or more||16GB for 32-bit / 20GB for 64-bit|
|System firmware:||UEFI, Secure Boot capable||N/A|
|TPM:||Trusted Platform Module (TPM) version 2.0||N/A|
|Graphics card:||DirectX 12 or later with WDDM 2.0 driver||DirectX 9 or later with WDDM 1.0 driver|
|Display:||720p display that is greater than 9-inch diagonally, 8 bits per colour channel||800 x 600 display|
|Internet access required?||Yes||No|
The good news is that if you’re computer is compatible with Windows 11, it looks like you’ll be getting a far improved experience once the new operating system officially launches at the beginning of Holiday 2021.