Windows 11 launched this month, and Microsoft delivered some big changes to the storied operating system, including its first name change in six years. The Windows 11 update began rolling out on Oct. 5, though it will be released in a phased approach on eligible devices.
Windows 11 comes with a truckload of new features, such as the ability to download and run Android apps on your Windows PC and updates to Microsoft Teams, the Start menu and the overall look of the software, which is cleaner and Mac-like in design. But keep in mind that not all of the features are available today.
Here’s everything about Windows 11, including price, compatibility, release date, how to download it and new features.
7 new features included in Windows 11
Here are a few of the standout new features in Windows 11:
- A new, more Mac-like interface. Windows 11 features a clean design with rounded corners, pastel shades and a centred Start menu and Taskbar.
- Integrated Android apps. Android apps will be coming to Windows 11 via the Amazon Appstore, which will be accessible from within the updated Microsoft Store. There were a couple of ways to access Android apps on Windows 10, especially if you had a Samsung Galaxy phone, but this will make it native. (Note that Android apps will not be available upon the initial release of Windows 11.)
- Widgets. While they’ve been around for a while (remember desktop gadgets on Windows Vista?), including in a recent Windows 10 update, you can now access widgets directly from the Taskbar and personalize them to see whatever you’d like.
- Microsoft Teams integration. Teams are getting a face-lift and are pinned on the Windows 11 Taskbar, making it easier to access (and a bit more like Apple’s FaceTime). You’ll be able to access Teams from Windows, Mac, Android or iOS.
- Xbox tech for better gaming. Windows 11 will get certain features found in Xbox consoles, like Auto HDR and DirectStorage, to improve gaming on your Windows PC.
- Better virtual desktop support. Windows 11 will let you set up virtual desktops in a way that’s more similar to macOS, toggling between multiple desktops for personal, work, school or gaming use. You can also change your wallpaper on each virtual desktop.
- Easier transition from monitor to the laptop, and better multitasking. The new OS includes features called Snap Groups and Snap Layouts — collections of the apps you’re using at once that sit in the Taskbar and can come up or be minimized at the same time for easier task switching. They also let you plug and unplug from a monitor more easily without losing where your open windows are located.
When will you get Windows 11?
Windows 11 is now available now and will continue rolling out through mid-2022. The newer your device is, the sooner you’re likely to have access to the update. The older your PC is, the longer you’ll probably have to wait.
Will your computer be compatible with Windows 11?
There are a few different ways to check if your Windows 10 PC is eligible for a free upgrade to Windows 11.
You can download Microsoft’s PC Health Check app to see if your device is compatible, and if not, some details as to why. You can use another open-source app called WhyNotWin11 to see if your device is compatible. Plus, here’s how to check some hardware compatibility with Windows 11 without either tool.
Or go to Microsoft’s website for a list of requirements. If you bought a new PC between now and the general release, that computer will also be eligible for the free upgrade.
Can I still download Windows 11 even if my computer isn’t compatible?
Potentially. Even if your Windows 10 computer lacks some of the requirements for upgrading to Windows 11, you may still be able to manually download an unsupported version of the OS. The process would be similar to how many people could manually download Windows 10 free of charge. However, this version likely won’t be eligible for updates from Microsoft.
How do you upgrade to Windows 11?
Once Windows 11 becomes generally available, you’ll download it the same way you would any new version of Windows. Most users will go to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update and click Check for Updates.
If available, you’ll see a Feature update to Windows 11. Click Download and install. Remember that Microsoft is rolling out the operating system gradually, so don’t panic if you don’t see the option on Day 1.
Is Windows 11 free to download?
If you’re already a Windows 10 user, Windows 11 will appear as a free upgrade for your machine.
For more, check out every feature we wanted in Windows 11 but didn’t get, everything to know about the Windows 10 May 2021 update.