Windows 11 needs no introduction as it’s the newest OS update from Microsoft. The company emphasised in the past that Windows 10 would be the last Windows, but some changes were bound to happen. Windows 11 brings that fresh breeze PC users have been waiting for for years. Let’s check out some of the salient Windows 11 features.
Is Windows 11 Out Yet?
Yes, Microsoft announced Windows 11 on June 24 and started the official rollout on October 5. Currently, the latest stable release is Build 22000.194 at the time of writing.
You can install it manually, but due to some obvious reasons, we would recommend waiting until Microsoft pushes the update on its own for your device. Before anything else, make sure your PC sticks to the updated system requirements and you can check the Windows 11 compatibility using the PC Health Check tool.
Major Features Shipped With Windows 11
- 1. New Start Menu
- 2. Psychology-inspired Windows 11 Widgets
- 3. New Settings App
- 4. New Quick Actions, Notifications, Context Menus
- 5. New Microsoft Store and Xbox Gaming app
- 6. xCloud and Remote Play on Windows
- 7. Snap Assist, Multi-Monitor, File Explorer
- 8. Revamped Paint App, Snipping tool, leaked Windows Media Player
- 9. Windows Subsystem For Android (WSA)
1. New Start Menu
It’s for the time in the entire Windows timeline that we are seeing the Start Menu literally at the center. Microsoft has designed it with a fresh new look which doesn’t look much appealing to me personally. But at the same time, Microsoft has stripped the Live Tiles and some useful features as well.
For instance, you can’t create app groups in the Start Menu anymore. On the other hand, it now displays the most recent apps and files you have opened on your device, taking a queue from the Quick Access page in the File Explorer.
2. Psychology-inspired Windows 11 Widgets
The Widgets app on Windows 11 is an entirely new addition from Microsoft building on changes we saw on Windows 10. Windows has had widgets in the in the past with Windows 7, but now there is a well-thought out UI that gives a more mobile-like appeal. However, unlike the previous iterations, you can’t drag the widgets out of the widgets dashboard onto your desktop.
Microsoft said in a blog post that it hired someone from a psychology background to understand human behavior while designing the specifics of the Widgets app. Dorothy Feng works as a UX Designer at the company and previously studied psychology at Duke University. It remains to be seen how well the company grasped it.
3. New Settings App
I have expressed my thoughts on the Windows 11 Settings app in detail previously. It feels like the most useful addition to the new OS, as Microsoft has brought more options from the old Control Panel.
You get redesigned pages for almost everything but one useful thing is the improved navigation in the app so you can quickly jump between different pages. The Settings app now also shows you the screen-on time of your device just like Android and iOS.
4. New Quick Actions, Notifications, Context Menus
Windows 11’s new UI is visible right from the moment when you first see the desktop. The tablet-optimised quick actions menu now includes the volume slider as well and shows the battery percentage.
Microsoft has clubbed the options from Volume, Battery, and WiFi flyout menus into the new Quick Actions menu. You’ll notice that icons for these three in a single clickable button. However, the notifications have a new home at the top of the collapsable calendar UI now.
The Fluent Design is all over the Windows 11 desktop now and you can see the acrylic effect in the Start, Quick Actions, and Notifications UIs.
5. New Microsoft Store and Xbox Gaming app
The redesign wave did reach the Microsoft Store as well. To be honest, a Store redesign was long overdue as Redmond didn’t have much success all these years.
Microsoft Store now places the app logo and the download button on the left-hand side, while the app description, screenshots, and user review take the bigger space. The Search Bar in the app has also moved from the right-hand side to the center on Windows 11.
Speaking of under-the-hood changes, the Store app now supports more app formats including MSIX, PWA, and Win32, in addition to the UWP catalog. This opens room for more developers to hop on the ship, whose apps aren’t based on the Universal Windows Platform.
Apart from this, there is a new Xbox app for gamers that has made its way to Windows 11.
6. xCloud and Remote Play on Windows
If you keep are part of the gaming community, you might already be familiar with Microsoft xCloud: a cloud-powered service that streams games on your device.
While the Xbox gaming consoles are the obvious contenders, Microsoft xCloud offers support for Android and iOS devices as well. On Windows 11, Microsoft will enable xCloud via the Xbox Gaming app. Currently, the game streaming feature is only available to the users who are Xbox insiders.
In addition, there is another gaming-focused feature called Xbox Remote Play that lets you play games installed on your Xbox console on your Windows 10/11 PC. It’s basically a screen-sharing offering like the Microsoft Remote Desktop that pulls the entire Xbox UI onto Windows.
7. Snap Assist, Multi-Monitor, File Explorer
Making the user workflow easier is one of the goals Microsoft wants to achieve with Windows 11. Snap Assist is built on similar lines and allows you to quickly snap a window on your desktop. There are predefined shapes that you can choose from, which make it a cakewalk. You can read more about Snap Assist in our detailed post.
External monitors are the new fashion these days and Microsoft knows that very well. That’s why Windows 11 can now remember the window configuration for the monitor connected to your machine. So, when you detach it, the OS won’t clutter your primary screen with more app windows.
File Explorer now looks a lot more visually appealing with almost everything redesigned and easier to spot. This includes the context menu, icons, and the ribbon at the top. The size of the ribbon is now more compact that includes small modern icons for options like copy/paste, rename, new file, etc.
8. Revamped Paint App, Snipping tool, leaked Windows Media Player
Microsoft is adding a fresh coat of paint to every system app, and it has shown off a few. The list includes the new Paint app that flaunts the Fluent Design and has become more usable.
In addition, the Windows-maker has killed the Snip & Sketch tool and modified the Snipping tool to flaunt the new UI. So, now there is only one snapshot tool on Windows 11, but it is still far behind the controls you get on macOS.
We also saw a leak of an updated Windows Media Player carrying a new UI. It’s certainly much needed as the existing Groove Music app has failed to make any impact.
9. Windows Subsystem For Android (WSA)
While we are already familiar with WSL aka Windows Subsystem For Linux, Microsoft writing the same story for Android OS as well. Known as Windows Subsystem For Android or WSA, it will allow Android apps to run inside Windows 11.
Building on top of it, Microsoft has partnered with Amazon to offer Android apps inside Microsoft Store. There are also rumors that Windows 11 will also allow side-loading of Android apps.
So, these were some of the biggest features on Windows 11 that you can give a try. The OS is constantly evolving as we speak with something new coming up every now and then.
If you think we missed anything, feel free to drop your thoughts in the comments down below.