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 centered Start menu and Taskbar.
- Integrated Android apps. Android apps will be coming to Windows 11 and installable from within the new Microsoft Store via the Amazon Appstore. (There were a couple of ways to access Android apps on Windows 10, including if you had a Samsung Galaxy phone, but this will make it native.)
- 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 is getting a face-lift and will be integrated directly into 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 Direct Storage, 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 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 Windows 11 be released to the public?
Microsoft says the official release of Windows 11 (what the company calls General Availability, or GA) will arrive on new hardware in late 2021. Most knowledgeable observers expect the Windows 11 GA release to arrive in October 2021, and you would be foolish to bet against them.
The process of updating Windows 10 PCs that meet Microsoft’s hardware requirements will start around the same time and will extend into 2022.
How much will Windows 11 cost?
On any PC with a properly licensed copy of Windows 10, the upgrade to Windows 11 will be free.
Microsoft hasn’t announced prices for Windows 11 retail editions yet, but it’s reasonable to expect they will be identical to the prices of corresponding Windows 10 editions.