Although Microsoft indicated that Windows 10 would be the last version of Windows, there are business reasons for why it has announced a new version of the Windows platform. According to Kenny Riley of Velocity IT, “Microsoft needs to stay fresh and innovative to remain competitive. It needs to maintain its brand recognition in the corporate and personal computing markets.”
It’s been six years since Windows 10 was released in 2015. Since then, the PC market has been declining, and a decline in PC sales means a decline in Windows 10 sales. With the growth in a remote workforce, the PC market saw a growth in sales in 2020. Increased sales are expected to continue well into 2021 despite shortages in semiconductor chips. As the latest PCs hit homes and offices, users may feel a disconnect between the faster, sleeker device and the Windows 10 user interface, making it the perfect time to deliver an updated operating system.
Bi-annual updates to the Windows 10 platform can become onerous. Changes are performed piecemeal, which makes supporting the operating system more costly. By consolidating changes into a single release, Microsoft has a cost-effective way to implement changes. Nick Allo of Semtech IT Solutions sees the move to Windows 11 as a positive way for Microsoft to update its user interface and to take advantage of the latest hardware. The tech world is always evolving, and companies — including Microsoft — need to embrace it.
Microsoft announced the upcoming release of its latest Windows operating system on June 24, 2021. Because information about Windows 11 was leaked to the public in advance, no one was surprised at the announcement. As Ilan Sredni of Palindrome Consulting suggested, Microsoft needed to design a simpler user interface (UI) that did a better job of integrating and organizing applications, similar to a smartphone experience. So what features will Windows 11 have?
New User Interface
Images of the new interface were leaked prior to the announcement, so everyone expected the simple, fluid look of Windows 11. Critics were pleased to see fewer corners and more rounded images, giving it a modern feel. According to Microsoft, the design delivers a sense of calm for greater productivity.
The user interface has a centered taskbar and Start menu with fewer standard icons. It has improved its touch screen functionality, making it easier to move to and from a keyboard. Snap Layouts enable the user to hover over an icon on the Start menu to maximize it. Once the window is open, the user can move it to any corner of the display. Applications can be opened and arranged on the desktop for improved productivity.
Integrated Android Apps
As Sredni stated, Windows 11 focuses on application integration. Microsoft has worked with Google and Amazon to enable Android apps to run on Windows 11. The operating system includes a Microsoft Store feature that will allow users to download applications directly to the desktop. Windows 11 is designed to provide a more open platform to attract app developers.
As Carl Fransen of CTECH Consulting Group pointed out, “Teams is Microsoft’s new North Star. Microsoft wants to have its reach extend beyond the PC market, to the entire market of all devices.” Teams will be integrated into Windows 11 for consumers. It can be activated from the taskbar, much like Apple’s FaceTime application. Users will be able to connect with any device, including those using Android or Apple operating systems. The feature is easy to mute and unmute from the desktop.
According to Microsoft, “If you’re a gamer, Windows 11 is made for you.” It appears that many features currently available on Xbox, such as Auto HDR, will be migrated to the Windows 11 platform. A new storage API is said to load games faster with less strain on the CPU. However, any improvements in performance will require upgraded hardware.
Multiple desktops are ideal for segmenting work, personal, school or gaming use. Much like iOS, Windows 11 will toggle between multiple desktops. Creating custom wallpaper for each desktop makes it easier to identify its use. When switching from personal to work, it’s nice to have a visual cue, so a too casual email isn’t accidentally sent to a colleague. Being able to quickly identify which virtual desktop is in use makes for a better experience.
Widgets aren’t new, but they have never been easier to use than in Windows 11. Users create a widgets panel that holds a series of widgets that can be rearranged and resized. The concept is similar to the panels that appear on smartphones that highlight what is of most interest to the end-user. Possible uses are adding calendar, To Do lists, or weather widgets to the panel. A click on the taskbar makes the widgets panel easy to access priority information.
Although Windows 10 is a stable operating system, it has not kept pace with technology. The user interface lacks the modern look and feel of Apple or Google operating systems. It doesn’t take advantage of newer technology that allows for better performance, nor does it have the graphics capabilities that create a competitive gaming experience.
The ability to run Windows 11 on desktops, tablets, laptops, and smartphones makes the operating system more adaptable and application integration less cumbersome. The new operating system gives users easy access to their applications, games, and emails from any of their devices. Being able to adapt to the device makes navigating from one to another seamless. People can use keyboard, pen, or touch depending on user preference.
For businesses, Windows 11 provides better productivity tools that enable users to move seamlessly from one application to another. However, Microsoft has a history of buggy initial releases which makes IT departments hesitant to upgrade. When to upgrade depends on the company and its technical requirements. For assistance in planning a migration to Windows 11, contact Ulistic.