We get it! You’ve been comfortably working with your hardware that just so happens to be a Windows 10 operating system, approving the system updates whenever they pop up, happily sitting in your well-known workspace. But now there’s a new kid on the block. Windows 11. He’s bringing some new ideas that seem bigger, and scarier, but maybe we just need to get to know who he really is before we write him off as impossible?
With Microsoft announcing a new operating system, most new workstations are arriving with Windows 11 installed by default. This means that there isn’t always an option to default to the old operating systems that we’ve been used to. So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at the key differences and get you acquainted with the fancy new features.
As with any significant update, Windows 11 has a new, refreshed look. The most obvious visual change is that the Start menu and Taskbar icons are smaller and now centred, similar to a Mac interface. These can be moved back to the left if that was working for you though. The Start Menu has had a complete redesign with static icons now replacing the live tiles, the search bar living in the menu, and the addition of a recommended section that showcases recently used programs and files.
In a more general design update, the hard, sharp corners of Windows 10 have made way for rounded corners of Windows 11, and there are updates to animations, redesigns of icons and use of transparency that tie into the new design language called ‘Fluent Design’. This design language is aiming to provide a user interface (UI) that’s working to give the user a more intuitive, modern, and streamlined experience.
To be fair, Windows 10 also had widgets, but Windows 11 has leaned even further into the concept. These new widgets are small customisable tiles that deliver personalised information such as news feeds, weather, sport, and traffic reports, stock market data, all powered by AI for customisation. You have the power of personalisation here when it comes to what information you want to see, and where you want the widgets to appear on your screen. In the future, updates will allow Widgets to expand into a panel that fits the entire screen.
Windows 10 introduced the Snap feature that allowed users to arrange their windows manually by hovering left or right of the screen, or through using keyboard combinations. With Windows 11 comes an intuitive update to Snap with Snap Layouts. This feature automatically allows users to open their windows with different layout options to organise their windows on their screen, such as side-by-side, or in a grid. This is extremely helpful for users with a large screen and who like to multitask. Snap Layouts enable users to quickly arrange windows that make sense for your workflow.
Snap Groups is another new feature linked to Snap Assist. It allows users to organise their apps and windows more efficiently together in groups, and also allows the user to go back to their Snap Layout whenever they hover over the taskbar. For example, you might have a Snap Group for communication apps, such as Outlook, Teams and Slack. With a single click, you can open all these at once and arrange them in a specific layout. The extra cool things is that your layout choices are saved and accessible from the app taskbar icon, which means you don’t have to go back and re-create them!
In general, most apps have had the UI refresh, but the older, classic Windows apps such as Paint, Photos, Notepad, Media Player, Mail etc, have, or will have, a complete makeover. Some lucky apps even get new features, such as the Clock app, which includes the new Focus Sessions feature. This allows users to set parameters for uninterrupted time, allowing you to focus and get things done.
In addition to updated default apps, the settings app has a fresh new look. It’s now sporting a persistent left menu which means users don’t have to reverse out of nested settings in order to navigate to another menu item.
The App Store has also received a revamp, which brings a new interface that is easier to navigate, and is just prettier, but it also allows the ability to install Android apps. Currently they need to be run through the Amazon AppStore, but it’s a step in the direction of allowing users to run smartphone apps on their desktop.
We think this one is pretty cool…not only did the soundscape of start-up, warnings, and notifications become gentler, shorter and altogether more soothing, but there are subtle differences between light and dark mode too.
In light mode, the sounds reflect the mode, giving a clearer, brighter sound. Whereas, in dark mode, the sounds are slightly more muted and echoed.
Microsoft has promised performance improvements including faster logins with Windows Hello, faster web-browsing and faster waking from sleep mode.
Window updates will run in the background and be 40% smaller, meaning less download and install time.
The update to the operating system is said to extend battery life on laptops and aim to make it easier to reduce carbon emissions.
The head of Windows, Panos Panay, has predicted that this latest OS update would be the most secure version yet. One of the increased security features is the Trusted Platform Module 2.0 (TPM) security chip and Secure Boot capability, which is designed to prevent any malicious software from loading as your PC starts up.
Overall, the key noticeable differences from Windows 10 to Windows 11 are visual design changes to make the user experience more comfortable and focused. There are also performance improvements that are to be expected when it comes to operating system updates. So the new kid on the block is pretty approachable after all!
The other key thing to factor in is that Microsoft have announced that Windows 10 end of life date will come in 2025. This means that there will be no more system or security updates beyond that point and is recommended to think about upgrading to Windows 11.
If we’ve made the idea of Windows 11 super duper enticing and you just can’t wait for the shiny new operating system, it’s important to check your hardware is compatible if you’re looking to make the switch from Windows 10 to Windows 11. Some older hardware won’t be able to support the new updates, and we’d hate for you to miss out on all the fun.
If you have any questions or concerns or are just eager to find out if your hardware and systems are ready for the fancy new operating upgrade, reach out to us, and we’ll geek out about it alongside you.
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