Windows 11: What You Need To Know About Microsoft’s Surprise OS
Microsoft lied to us. There was never supposed to be a Windows 11. Instead, Windows 10 was supposed to be the “final form” of the world’s most widely used operating system. Instead of launching new standalone versions of the OS, Microsoft would update Windows 10 free of charge on an ongoing basis, forever. They first told us that in 2015. They were still telling us as recently as 2019. Then, something changed. Microsoft had a change of heart, and Windows 11 is upon us. This unscheduled new version of Windows brings changes — big changes — and you’re going to want to know about some of them.
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The first and most important thing you’ll want to know is that Windows 11 is a free upgrade. Unlike the days of the distant past where Windows cost you more than $100 unless you knew someone who could get you a “cheaper version,” Microsoft won’t be charging by the download. Nor will they be supplying their new OS via disc. They won’t even make you update if you don’t want to. Every Windows user with an internet connection will be notified sometime this fall that they’re now eligible to download Windows 11. If they accept the download, the update will take care of itself. If they refuse it, they can continue using Windows 10 until Microsoft officially ends support for it. Currently, that’s scheduled to be 2025. In practice, Microsoft usually ends up pushing dates back when they get closer. They only officially ended support for Windows XP in 2014.
Something else you might be interested to know is that the newest version of Windows will support apps — and we don’t mean apps made by Microsoft. In what’s already been seen by many as a slap in the face to Apple, Windows 11 will run Android apps. In theory, the apps should run just as smoothly on Windows as they do on Android phones and tablets. This is evidence of a relationship between Microsoft and Google that’s closer than ever before — and might give Apple cause to be worried. The sudden and surprising embrace of Android apps isn’t the only shot that Microsoft has sent in Apple’s direction. They’ve also confirmed that anybody who writes an app for Windows will keep all proceeds made by the app unless their app is a game. In announcing that new policy, current Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella announced that Windows stands for “sovereignty for creators.” Given Apple’s current App Store-related courtroom woes, it’s hard to believe he didn’t carefully choose those words.
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The biggest change that most users will notice is a fundamental one. The Windows Start button — which has been in the bottom left-hand corner of the screen since the dawn of time- is going to move. It’s now in the middle of the taskbar. Microsoft has experimented with (and even done away with) the Start button before, only to put it back where it started. It’s to be presumed that there will be an option to relocate the Start button to the corner if users wish to do so, as there doesn’t seem to be either a need or an advantage for it to move to the centre. It feels like change for change’s sake — which is never a good impression to give when making a major overhaul.
If you’ve downloaded the most recent version of Windows 10, you might have noticed an “interests” taskbar app that keeps you up to date with news, weather, important calendar events, and traffic in your area. That’s going to be a big part of the new Windows, with an AI-driven algorithm that gets to know you and attempts to make the feed relevant to your interests and browsing habits. The OS as a whole will look “softer,” with rounded edges and translucent windows. Tiles have been done away with completely. In their place come pinned apps, recently-used programs, and favourites. In general, Windows aims to become more personal and intuitive.
Aside from this new casual approach, Microsoft is also thinking about the future — and it doesn’t see keyboards in it. Windows 11 has been designed as much for people who use touchscreen devices as people who use mice and keyboards, as evidenced by the inbuilt “Xbox Game Pass” screen. It’s impossible not to look at it and thinks of an online slots website. In fact, that might even be deliberate. The efficient use of space that most successful online slots websites employ is considered to be an industry standard by most web designers, so it makes sense to replicate it here. We’re not suggesting that Microsoft’s most senior engineers looked at Rose Slots Canada before finalising their design choices, but nor would we be surprised to find out that they did. You wouldn’t necessarily need a keyboard to play online slots either, and nor do you here. Microsoft promises that Windows 11 will be navigable in its entirety through voice commands. A “floating keyboard” can even be summoned onto the screen through voice commands and is sophisticated enough to understand instructions like “delete that word” and “delete that sentence.”
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There are always casualties in every revolution, and in this case, it’s Skype. In the very early days of webcam calls, MSN Messenger and then Windows Messenger handled them for us. Skype came along after that and remained the go-to choice for video calls for a very long time. However, during 2020, Microsoft decided to focus on Teams instead. Users can now sign up for a free Teams personal account if they want to call their friends and chat through video. Skype is no longer included with Windows 11 at the point of installation. If you want to use Skype after you’ve upgraded, you’ll have to download the app from the Windows app store. Considering that Microsoft paid $8.5bn to acquire Skype just under a decade ago, that’s quite a spectacular fall from grace. Skype should have come into its own last year. Instead, it’s been effectively put out to pasture.
Other familiar apps and features will disappear too. Mercifully, Cortana will no longer be loaded at startup. OneNote is history unless you download it separately. Paint 3D disappears into the trashcan of history, and 3D Viewer goes with it. Visually, everything will be very different. Functionally, we’re not so sure. We’ll all find out together in around two months.