The official public release for Windows 11, the latest iteration of the popular operating system (OS) from Microsoft is planned for later this year. Even though there is no general availability as of now, I was able to test an early build right now.
The download and installation doesn’t take too much time. All in all, I think this was one of the smoothest updates from one major release to another in the world of Windows ever. I think there have been some lesser updates in the past that took longer. There’s nothing complicated about the updating process, so I assume that anybody could do it without first consulting a tutorial or call the support, even if they are not tech-savvy, and that’s how technology should work like.
What changes in Windows 11?
Many changes that a user will directly notice are changes in the design of the user interface. Overall, my subjective feeling is that the new design is much more appealing and more modern. Everything feels right about the changes they made here to the cosmetics and it’s rather pleasing. There was only one thing that might not be easy for everybody to accept, which was the fact that they moved the windows button along with open apps to the center of the taskbar rather than letting it pile of starting from the lower-left corner towards the right corner. If you can’t accept that change, you can quickly revert it with a few clicks, however. Other than that, you can also choose another color theme, which will allow you to go with darker or brighter variants, or lets you go for your favorite colors as a design focus.
Windows has always stood for sovereignty for creators and agency for consumers, and with Windows 11 we have a renewed sense of Windows’ role in the world. pic.twitter.com/xHldf38B8d
— Satya Nadella (@satyanadella) June 24, 2021
The start menu, which will roll up once you clicked on the Windows button, or hit the physical Windows button on your keyboard, also changed a little. It became more compact, but you can still customize it to support your workflows. Overall it seems to be able to give you better search results when entering search queries here now. It already worked okay, more or less, previously to lookup apps and files based on entering keywords here, but I think people will adapt to this function more now if they see how quick and easy they can access everything they are looking for like this in the new start menu.
Something I also found exciting about the new Windows 11 was the smartphone companion app, which establishes a link between your computer and your Android or iOS phone. As of now, this lets you see the notifications, messages, contacts, and lets you do calls via this interface. I am hoping that they will add actual app control as well in the future. It would help a lot with some things and you will no longer need to switch devices for your workflows. Of course, you can use PC apps or browser-versions of many solutions just as well, but there are still some things, such as Instagram for example, which have a dedicated focus on being used from your mobile and not from a PC. So such a feature upgrade would help with these challenges.
Any trouble with apps?
I tried out various apps to see if any stopped working or threw any errors in comparison to Windows 10 but it was more like the software didn’t even notice a difference after the update of the OS. I found no issues and no reasons that would force me to a downgrade as of now, which is also great. Certainly, I can’t guarantee that for all the software that you might be using, but for me, it went okay at least.
While maybe not a key aspect for all users, there are more changes to introduce some benefits to certain user groups. For instance, Microsoft wants to improve touchscreen user experience, integration of Microsoft Teams, and the Xbox suite for playing video games and managing your gaming activities. It’s very likely that Microsoft will put more work into Windows 11 before they will launch this version for the public and even then, more features are likely to be introduced later on once it launched, split into later phases of its lifecycle, as the developers progress with the product.
Can all computers run Windows 11?
Some reported that there might be issues with older hardware to migrate to Windows 11 but I have not yet encountered any such restrictions even on slightly older gear. I can however imagine that there is a certain gating criterion that will prevent users from upgrading their OS to an environment in which their hardware would struggle to operate, which makes sense. If you want to have a look at how Windows 11 looks and behaves you can also check out the video below by Krazy Ken from Computer Clan.
YouTube: Windows 11 Insider Preview Tour (Dev Channel) – Krazy Ken’s Tech Talk
Photo credit: All images are owned by and have been done by Microsoft and were provided as part of a press release.
Source: Michael Kan (PCMag) / Microsoft product page
Editorial notice: The author tried out Windows 11 as a dev build. There might be changes to the design and/or features of this software in the future.