Windows 11 will be the first version of Windows developed under the leadership of Panos Panay.
In final stages of development, tweaks and bug squashes before the official release in October, Microsoft is introducing Windows 11 as the first version of Windows developed for a hybrid work world. Windows 11 will ship with a major UI design overhaul, new start menu, new modern components (though some legacy components still remain) and what is touted to be a much more developer-friendly App Store,
Faster and More efficient
It’s important to also know that there are is also a heap load of important changes under the hood of Windows 11 too.
Microsoft have provided various technical docs along with a new YouTube video from Microsoft Mechanics which detail these various optimisation and performance improvements which you can watch below.
If you watch the video, you will see the Windows Management team explain why and how Windows 11 feels more responsive and faster than Windows 10 on the same hardware due to “a lot of work in memory management to favour the app windows you have running in the foreground so that they’re prioritised with more CPU and other system resources.”.
Unlike Windows 10, Microsoft have ensured that with Windows 11 foreground optimisation now also applies not only to the focus and running apps but also to the Windows shell and open tabs within Microsoft Edge (made possible though Microsoft Edge’s Sleeping Tabs feature).
Microsoft claim that this results in average Memory efficiency gains of 32% and up to 37% for processor usage, which of course therefore equate to faster performance, better mutki taking and more efficient use of battery (longer life).
Microsoft also explains in the video, they have achieved an “almost instantaneous” resume from sleep experience for most Windows 11 users. Microsoft also claim that Windows Hello is now 30% faster also (not that it was slow before).
A word in updates too..
Finally and probably one of the most noticeable things I have found in testing as part of the Windows Insider Programme is that Windows 11 updates are and will be significantly smaller and faster to install.
With the updated Windows Update, the update components only download the necessary files from Microsoft rather than the whole update making updates on average 40% smaller. Thus reducing network bandwidth and increasing update speed. Which is massively noticeable with updates (in testing) taking well under 5 mins.
You can read more on this on the Microsoft Tech community here.
Microsoft announced today that Windows 11, will be officially released on October 5, 2021 and will start rolling out to “eligible” Windows 10 devices on that date onwards.
Windows 11 will also come pre-installed on many new devices from Microsoft, Dell, Lenovo, Asus, Samsung etc.
Windows 11 is already available for WindowInsiders and the “beta testing” will continue though to October 5 and then continue for the next batch of feature releases as it did with Windows 10.
Windows 11 requirements
Whilst Microsoft annouced last week that some select 7th gen Intel chipsets (like Surface Studio 2) will support Windows 11, in most cases the core system requirements include:
‘modern’ 64bit dual-core or higher CPU
4GB of RAM (but 8GB ideally)
64GB storage (SSD ideally)
DirectX12 supported GPU
TPM 2.0 chip (enabled) in UEFI settings
As usual with Windows updates and upgrades the Windows 11 upgrade will roll out gradually to devices that meet the minimum requirements for Windows PCs and say their upgrade system will use “intelligence algorithms” to make it available on more devices over time. “We expect all eligible devices to be offered the free upgrade to Windows 11 by mid-2022,” Microsoft said in the annoucement.
Interestly, Microsoft said last week that users will be able to use Windows 11 ISOs to manually install Windows 11 on unsupported PC though there is a caveat in that Microsoft are not committed to service these devices via Windows Update, and that includes security updates.
One thing to note is that Android app support, a feature announced during the Windows 11 unveiling event, won’t be shipping this year but will start testing with Windows Insiders soon.
What about Windows 10 support
For devices not capable of running Windows 11, or for users/organisation not ready to move to Windows 11, Windows 10 will still be supported through to 2025.
This week (end of July 21), Microsoft made Windows 11 available to #WindowsInsiders in the BETA channel (it’s been available for a month now in the DEV channel).
To help Insiders (and the general consumer and corporate) understand exactly what did and is going into the development of Windows 11, Microsoft have put together a informative “Windows 11 Innovation Portal”
The portal has a collection of videos from various key Windows 11 developers, marketing managers and Panos Panay himself which look at how general product feedback from users and #WindowsInsiders have helped and will continue to help shape Windows 11.
Other videos in the collection focus on the extensive ways in Windows11’s accessibility features have been designed and there’s then a section of info and videos that introduce some of the newly designed and AI fueled features such as the new start menu, touch keyboard, voice typing, snap view and new “tablet posture”.
So.. If you want to know more (before during or after you’ve installed Windows11) check it out now and let me (and other #WindowsInsiders) know what you think.
Windows 11 is new – in this blog I look into some of the reasons why we have a Windows 11 and not simply another update to Windows 10!
In summary, I think Windows 11 is about three main things which I will discuss below…
Taking advantage of the huge surge in demand in hardware.
A new modern and fresh visual UI
The ability to considerably secure and protect users (not just corporates either)
Wasn’t Windows 10 supposed to be the last version of Windows?
That’s what we all thought, since when Microsoft released Windows 10, Jerry Nixen (a former senior technical evangelist at Microsoft) had said “Right now we’re releasing Windows 10, and because Windows 10 is the last version of Windows, we’re all still working on Windows 10“. This, however, was never really the official line by “THE MICROSOFT”, and was more of a throwaway comment but one that people seem to have remembered (including me!!). Anyway, there is a Windows 11 coming. Period.
To answer the “why”, during the official announcement of Windows 11, Panos Panay said that “You have to step back and consider what’s most important for people right now, and so much has changed over the last 18 months. A lot of the time spent over the last 18 months [within Microsoft] was looking at Windows and what it means to be for what’s next [with hybrid work].”
But why Windows 11 and not Windows 10 2022H1?
“The PC started to move from fitting into people’s lives to shifting our lives to fit into the PC,” said Panos Panay at the announcement of Windows 11 back in June.
Six years after launch, the vast majority of the Windows world is now (finally) running Windows 10. With the surge (ok, like, everyone) suddenly working from home combined with the increase in security threats from phishing and ransomware also combined with the first significant PC growth spurt in more than a decade, Microsoft clearly saw a big reason (and opportunity) to re-invent Windows in a year which has reportedly seen a 75% year-over-year increase in the time people “spent” in Windows.
According to Canlays, “the PC market is expected to remain strong through at least the end of the year and into 2022″ as hybrid working seems set to stay and requires (in most cases) mobile computing which typically have a “refresh” cycle of 3 years (4 at a push). Any Windows upgrade cycle (new version) that Microsoft launch risks causing demand issues (especially with the current silicon shortages), but at the same time, the fact that demand is strong and people are upgrading presents an immediate opportunity.
What’s more important (if you push the marketing and commercial aspect to one side for a moment) is that the devices people are upgrading to, typically support more advanced and modern security standards than the 4 year old devices they are typically replacing!
In short, I think Windows 11 is about three main things
A new modern and fresh visual UI
The ability to considerably secure and protect users (not just corporates either)
Taking advantage of the on-going demand for PCs/laptops.
The new Flashy UI
There is no doubting that the UI in Windows 11 looks different (yet also very familiar). There are a also bunch of new features in the first initial build (with loads more coming in later builds) – you need to bear in mind that there is still at least 5 months of development and refinement to go before Windows 11 is officially launched).
Many of the new features have been shaped around the changing ways in which people have learned, worked and played during the pandemic. As an example,
Universal mute – a new mute button is now present on the taskbar which essentially mutes every app in Windows 11 except your UC app (by that they mean Microsoft Teams), to prevent those embarrassing microphone moments.
Leave my apps where there were mode (ok it’s not officially called that), but Microsoft in Windows 11 finally leaves your apps on the screen you left them when using multiple monitors. In Windows 10, apps are rearranged or moved to single screen when you disconnect or reconnect a monitor. To be honest though – they could have easily (and still could fix this in Windows 10 21H2)
There’s lots more to the UI and reasons why some of the changes (like the centred start menu) are where they are – you can read/watch more about this here
Security, Security, Security
Outside of the cosmetics (which are of course important as it’s what we interface on a daily basis), Microsoft (who by the way invest over $1B in security R&D each year) want to push the market forward to adopt the much needed new security standards. Setting minimum standards around security (rather than just RAM and Processor speed) is of course a good way to this. Again – they didn’t really need a new “version” to do this – after all, Windows 11 is “built” on Windows 10, so with notice and planning they “could” have still achieved the same result in my book, but this way they can continue with Windows 10 (bear in mind that Windows 10 will be supported until at least 2025) but use Windows 11 as the driving force to improve security – something their commercial customers will likely not want to ignore.
Microsoft have been talking about Security from Chip to Cloud with Surface and Windows 10 for about a year now and given the huge demand for new PCs/Laptops, Microsoft should be able to drive a quicker shift towards better security standards. Microsoft sees hardware as a currently security flaw (in many cases) which is why there will be emphasis and requirement on TPM 2.0 for Windows 11 which has been standard in Microsoft Surface for several generations now but has not been a Windows requirement…..until now!
So what is TPM anyway? TPM stands for Trusted Platform Module and even though this technology has existed in new PCs for some years, its only really Microsoft that have talked about extensively. Since TPM 2.0 will be requirement for Windows 11, we will heard a lot more about it from PC manufacturers with Windows 11 certified hardware.
In a recent security blog post from Microsoft’s director of enterprise and Operating Security, they explain in detail the importance of TPM 2.0, along with some other security benefits of Windows 11.
TPM is a chip that’s integrated into a main motherboard on a PC or Laptop and is designed to helps protect sensitive data, user credentials, and encryption keys as well as protect these devices from malware and ransomware attacks, which are becoming ever more common. This, combined with the ransomware protection features built into Windows 11 (and Windows 10) known as “Controlled folder access” will go along way to further protect users and organisation against cyber crime.
TPM 2.0 is a “critical building block for providing security with Windows Hello and BitLocker to help customers better protect their identities and data,” Microsoft explains in their blog.
In addition to the TPM requirements, Windows 11 also provides new built-in security features including:-
Microsoft Azure Attestation, which can enforce Zero Trust policies with supported mobile device management tools like Intune
Support for virtualization-based security, hypervisor-protected code integrity,
Secure Boot built-in, and hardware-enforce stack protection for supported hardware from both Intel and AMD.
Become a Windows Insider and test Windows 11 today
People always ask me “how you download it or get a dodgy build like the one that leaked a few weeks ago”. Its actually really simple and legal to get Windows 11 – but to do so you (or your organisation) need to be enrolled in the Windows Insider Programme. I’ve been a Windows Insider for 6 years now and it’s been a great journey to be (or at least feel) part of the on-going development of Windows moving forward.
I’ve written about what it means to be a Windows Insider before, but you can check out the Real Inside story of Windows 11here.
Watch to learn more about the key design & security concepts of Windows 11
So last week, Microsoft officially unveiled the “Next generation on Windows” with #Windows11 and 4 days later the first #WindowsInsider build (yes its rough around the edges still) made its way to insiders. I’ve only been using it a day but I can tell you… “It’s NOT a fuss about nothing. It’s a big and welcome change”.
What’s the big deal?
Well, It’s been 6 years since #Windows10 launched and it’s been updated roughly twice a year since launch which has included the gradual (they are still working on it) phase out of the remaining legacy features and components left over from #Windows7. Truth be told, much of the reason for these legacy remains have been necessary to support older legacy applications that still today exist across many industries..
Windows 10 is the world’s most widely used PC operating system with over 1.4 Billion devices using it (yes there is “still Windows 7 and XP out there)!
Windows 11, (which will release later this year) promoses a fresh new design and many newly designed features design to address the new needs of work, education and productivity and creativity…. and was described by Panos Panay, Microsoft’s Chief Product Officer as “the Windows that brings you closer to the things you love“. So what new features can we expect?
So. What’s new?
Secure from Chip to Cloud
A lot has changed and lots for will be coming as the operating system develops and matures before it’s expected launch in Autumn this year.
One of the core things you may have heard in the press is about the significant system requirements needed to run Windows11. Much of this is around requiring the use of modern processors and in particular modern security in the form of TPM 2.0.
TPM stands for Trusted Platform Module. Even though TPM 2.0 has been in new PCs for years, it’s a technology that many hadn’t heard of until this week.
Whilst I’m not going to dive into this here, (you can) a new security blog post from Microsoft’s director of enterprise and Operating System Security, David Weston, explains the importance of TPM 2.0. Security is big in #Windows11 and is a major step towards any organisation achieving zero trust security policy. Read the blog above to learn more..
Evolved, redesigned but ever “familiar” design
The main change from Windows 10 to a Windows 11 is a new refreshed and completed updated user interface which has rounded “fresh looking” corners, new modern desktop wallpapers, pastel colours, a centred Start menu and Taskbar and more adaptive experience complete with modern style widgets which essentially replace the “live tiles”.
The UI feels very modern and dare I say a bit “mac-like” and is very comparable to what we saw with early concepts of what Windows 10X was going to look like…..but what else is new? If you haven’t see it yet (where have you been), then check out the “sizzle” video below.
Increased performance. Windows 11 promises more performance whilst browsing the internet with Microsoft Edge and major updates (which will be once a year) will also be nearly 1/2nthe size of Windows 10s.
“Snap Layouts” make multi-tasking and the transition from single screen to multi screen much easier without need to remember keyboard shortcuts or use third party apps. With snap layouts users can create “collections” of the apps you are using which can sit in “groups” in the Taskbar. These can then be and can maximised or minimised together allowing you to switch between tasks and apps quicker. This comes into its own if you use multiple displays or use your laptop/Surface connected to a monitor since it ensures that the apps always open on your preferred screen.
Android Apps are coming to Windows through a new ’emulator’ and will available from the Amazon Appstore.
New App Store. The new revamped store promises to be faster and will be the “the safest and most secure way for you to get your apps on Windows.”
Widgets replace LiveTiles. Familiar to a modern mobile experience, widgets can be accessed directly from the Taskbar and uses AI to provide a personalised and contextualised experience and content. This builds/replaces the recent “news bar” in Windows 10 Build 21H1
Microsoft Teams will be (its not in the first build) integrated directly into the Taskbar. This replaces Skype (in Windows 10) and enables users to initiate calls and meetings as well as mute yourself. This will come when the new redesigned Teams client is available later this year.
Xbox “built in”. Well, sort of! Xbox is a big part of Microsoft so it’s unsurprising that enhanced gaming experiences such as cloud streaming, Auto HDR and Direct Storage which are all found in Xbox are coming to gaming PCs to improve gaming on PC.
How can I get it now?
The official Windows 11 upgrade will begin rolling out to all new and compatible devices in late 2021 (most likely November time) – but if you want to try an early version, provide feedback and test new features as they are being developed, you can join the Windows Insider Program.