Windows 11 First Look and Everything You Need to Know 2021

Windows 11 is the Microsoft product that will be officially released on October 5, 2021. It is the major version of the Windows NT operating system that was first announced on June 24, 2021, by CEO and chairman Satya Nadella. Windows 11 is the successor to Windows 10, which was official released in 2015. Windows 11 will be available as a free upgrade through Windows Update to some compatible Windows 10 devices.

Features new to Windows 11

  1. Fluent Design System

The OS is Updated from the Fluent Design System, a design language introduced by Microsoft in 2017, and is featured in Windows 11.

  1. Start menu

The menu has now been moved to the center, with the Live Tiles feature from Windows 8 being replaced by a set of pinned apps

  1. Taskbar

The Taskbar has also been center-aligned, similar to Apple’s Dock, and it now includes new animations for pinning, rearranging, minimizing, and switching apps on the Taskbar.

  1. Notification Center & Quick Settings

The Notification Center contains all the user’s notifications and a full-month calendar, while the Quick Settings menu lets the user manage common PC settings quickly and easily like Volume, Brightness, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Focus Assist.

  1. File Explorer

The File Explorer on Windows 11 has been made modern with a clean look and a new command bar. It also introduces revamped context menus with rounded corners, larger text, and Acrylic. App developers will also be able to extend the new context menus.

  1. Themes

In addition to brand new default themes on Windows 11 for both light and dark mode, it also includes four new additional themes to make Windows the way the user wants it to look and feel. The new themes were designed to complement the centered taskbar. Windows 11 also adds new high contrast themes for people with visual impairments such as light sensitivity.

  1. Sounds

Windows 11 introduces a new set of sounds that were designed to be lighter and more atmospheric.

  1. Widgets

There is a new button in the taskbar that will bring up the Widgets panel when clicked. The user can customize the panel by adding or removing widgets, rearranging, resizing, and personalize the content.

  1. Windows logo animation

The out of box experience in Windows 11 has been redesigned with a Windows logo animation while startup sound is played and brand new colorful animated icons and a modern light theme. It also adds the ability to name the computer during the out-of-box experience.

  1. Other UI improvements

Windows 11 updates several system dialog boxes such as the alert for when the battery is running low.

The taskbar previews have been updated to reflect Windows 11’s new visual design.

The hidden icons flyout on the lower-right corner of the taskbar has also been redesigned to match Windows 11’s visuals.

When a background activity from an app requires attention, the app will flash on the Taskbar.

Multitasking

Windows 11 introduces a new set of multitasking features.

  1. Snap layouts

Users can now hover over a window’s maximize button to view available snap layouts, and then click a zone to snap the window. They will then be guided to snap windows to the rest of the zones within the layout using a guided snap assist. There is a set of four available snap layouts on smaller screens.

  1. Snap groups

Snap groups are a way to easily switch back to a set of snapped windows.

  1. Virtual desktops

Virtual desktops can be accessed via the Task View feature on the Taskbar. Users can reorder and customize the background for each of their desktops. They can also hover over the Task View button on the Taskbar to quickly access their desktops or to create a new one.

  1. Docking

When the user undocks a laptop, the windows on the monitor will be minimized, and when the laptop is docked to a monitor, Windows will put everything exactly where it was before.

  1. Touch keyboard

Windows 11 introduces thirteen new themes to customize the touch keyboard, including 3 hardware matching themes that match the Surface colors. It also adds a new theme engine that allows the user to create a custom theme using background images. In addition, Windows 11 adds the ability to resize the touch keyboard.

  1. Voice typing

Windows 11 includes a new voice typing launcher to easily start voice typing in a selected field. It is turned off by default, but it can be turned on in the Settings and placed in any area of the screen.

  1. Touch improvements

Windows 11 also features improvements to touch-based interactions. Tablet mode is removed; instead, Windows will automatically adapt when needed. New and improved gestures can be used on tablets and touchscreens. App windows now have larger touch targets, and will automatically arrange themselves in split view when the screen is rotated.

  1. Pen menu

For digital pen users, a new pen menu has been added, which is accessible by clicking the pen icon on the taskbar. By default, it contains two apps that can be customized by clicking the gear icon and selecting “Edit pen menu”. In the flyout, users can add up to four of their favorite drawing or writing apps to the pen menu to open them quickly when using a pen.

  1. Display improvements – Dynamic refresh rate

Dynamic Refresh Rate allows the PC to automatically boost the refresh rate when scrolling or inking and lower, when possible, to save battery power. Other display improvements coming with Windows 11 include Auto HDR, Content adaptive brightness control disabling (CABC), HDR support to color managed apps, and HDR certification.

  1. Microsoft Store

The Microsoft Store, which serves as a unified storefront for apps and other content, is also redesigned in Windows 11. Microsoft now allows developers to distribute Windows API, progressive web applications, and other packaging technologies in the Microsoft Store, alongside the standard Universal Windows Platform apps.  The new Microsoft Store will also enable users to install Android apps onto their devices via the Amazon Appstore. This feature will require a Microsoft account, an Amazon account, and a one-time install for the Windows Amazon Appstore client

  1. Settings

The Settings app first introduced in Windows 8 has been redesigned to be beautiful, easy to use, and inclusive in Windows 11. It has left-handed navigation that persists between pages, and it adds breadcrumbs as the user navigates deeper into the settings to help them know where they are and not to get lost.

The Settings app also includes brand new pages, with new controls at the top that highlight key information and frequently used settings for the user to adjust as they need. These new controls span across several category pages like System, Bluetooth & devices, Personalization, Accounts, and Windows Update. It also adds expandable boxes for pages with a lot of settings.

  1. Snipping Tool

In Windows 11, both the classic Snipping Tool and Snip & Sketch apps have been replaced by a new Snipping Tool app that represents the best experiences of both apps in the next generation of screen capture for Windows. The Snipping Tool on Windows 11 includes a new user interface that builds off the classic app with extra features like the Windows + Shift + S keyboard shortcut from Snip & Sketch and richer editing.

  1. Calculator

The Calculator app has also been redesigned for Windows 11. Just like the Snipping Tool, it includes a new app theme setting. The Calculator has been completely rewritten in C# and is packed with a new set of features.

  1. Mail & Calendar

The Mail and Calendar apps have been updated with a new visual style. They include rounded corners and other adjustments to make them look and feel like part of Windows 11. The Mail and Calendar apps can also reflect the Windows theme.

  1. Clock

The Clock app is getting an updated look with support for Focus Sessions and Spotify integration on Windows 11. The Focus Sessions integration in Windows 11 will allow the user to pick a task from Microsoft To-Do and play music in the background while they complete their work.

Other features

The Auto HDR and DirectStorage technologies introduced by the Xbox Series X and Series S will be integrated into Windows 11; the latter requires a graphics card supporting DirectX 12 Ultimate, and an NVMe solid-state drive of at least 1 terabyte in size.

System security and performance

Microsoft promoted performance improvements such as smaller update sizes, faster web browsing in “any browser”, faster wake time from sleep mode, and faster Windows Hello authentication.

Security

As part of the minimum system requirements, Windows 11 only runs on devices with a Trusted Platform Module 2.0 security coprocessor. According to Microsoft, the TPM 2.0 coprocessor is a “critical building block” for protection against firmware and hardware attacks. In addition, Microsoft now requires devices with Windows 11 to include virtualization-based security (VBS), hypervisor-protected code integrity (HVCI), and Secure Boot built-in and enabled by default. The operating system also features hardware-enforced stack protection for supported Intel and AMD processors for protection against zero-day exploits.

Windows 11 System requirements

Windows 11 only supports 64-bit systems such as those using an x86-64 or ARM64 processor; IA-32 processors are no longer supported.

The minimum RAM and storage requirements were also increased; Windows 11 now requires at least 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage. S mode is only supported for the Home edition of Windows 11. As of August 2021, the officially supported list of processors includes Intel Core 8th generation and later, AMD Zen+ and later, and Qualcomm Snapdragon 850 and later.

The compatibility list also includes the “AF” revisions of Ryzen processors and the Intel Core i7-7820HQ (a 7th generation processor), although the latter is only supported on devices that shipped with DCH-based drivers.

Devices with unsupported processors are not blocked from installing or running Windows 11, however, a clean install must be performed as Windows Update will prevent an upgrade from Windows 10. Additionally, Microsoft has stated that devices using unsupported processors may be blocked from installing updates.

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