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Windows 11 will bring a new lick of paint to Microsoft's Windows OS. There's a brand new look for the desktop, a major UI redesign, and big changes to the core Microsoft OS apps and services that we've come to rely upon in PC gaming. Most importantly of all, though, Microsoft says Windows 11 was built for gamers.
And all of that will arrive October 5, 2021.
Indeed, the "What's next for Windows" event on June 24 where Microsoft announced the new OS had been preceded by an early build of Windows 11 leaking just the week before, so it didn't come as too much of a surprise. Still, it's all quite exciting as Windows Insider beta testers already have access to an early build, and you can try it out yourself, you can sign up for the Windows Insider build. Or even download the Windows 11 ISO.
Prior to this official announcement, it wasn't clear what the future of the Windows OS would be. The general expectation was that the changes to the Windows UI, codenamed Sun Valley, would simply roll at as yet another Windows 10 update. And in many respects, that's what Windows 11 is, another update to Windows 10, albeit one that Microsoft's marketing department can get behind.
When will Windows 11 be released?
Microsoft has announced that Windows 11 is going to be available for new machines starting October 5, 2021. Updates to existing Windows 10 users should start coming at the start of 2022, and Microsoft hopes to have offered Windows 11 to every compatible machine by mid-2022.
The Windows Insider build of Windows 11 is already available for beta testing on the Dev Channel, though, and users can now download the Windows 11 ISO.
Microsoft has confirmed that Windows 11 will begin rollout from October 5, 2021. This expands on a blog post by Panos Panay , the Chief Product Officer of Windows, previous to this, which stated "Windows 11 will be available through a free upgrade for eligible Windows 10 PCs and on new PCs beginning this holiday."
We could also see a chunky update for Windows 10 drop around the same time as well, although Microsoft will probably focus on its new OS for the main part. Windows 10 will still be getting updates until 2025, so there's plenty of life in the old dog yet.
This release date for Windows 11 is for new machines, with the update for existing Windows 10 users coming at the beginning of 2022. This should mean that any bugs and problems will be (mostly) sorted by the time you can upgrade. If you can upgrade, assuming you have a TPM 2.0 compatible machine.
If you're eager to see what all the fuss is about, then you could install the Windows 11 Insider build right now or the Windows 11 ISO. These are currently early builds, though they do feature the new interface and some key Windows 11 features. That said, we wouldn't recommend installing it on your main machine, as it's still early in the release schedule and there's a good chance it won't work flawlessly.
Hardware requirements for Windows 11:
|Processor||A compatible 64-bit processor (x86-64 or ARM64) with at least 1 GHz clock rate and at least 2 cores|
|Memory (RAM)||At least 4 GB|
|Storage space||At least 64 GB|
|Security||Trusted Platform Module (TPM) version 2.0|
|Graphics card||Compatible with DirectX 12 or later with WDDM 2.0 driver|
|Display||High definition (720p) display that is greater than 9” diagonally, 8 bits per color channel|
|Internet connection and Microsoft accounts||Internet connection and Microsoft account required to complete first-time setup on Windows 11 Home.|
The basic system requirements of Windows 11 differ significantly from Windows 10. Windows 11 only supports 64-bit systems such as those using an x86-64 or ARM64 processor; IA-32 processors are no longer supported. Thus, Windows 11 is the first consumer version of Windows not to support 32 bit processors and 16-bit software (though Windows Server 2008 R2 was the first version of Windows NT to not support them). The minimum RAM and storage requirements were also increased; Windows 11 now requires at least 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage. S mode is only supported for the Home edition of Windows 11.As of August 2021, the officially supported list of processors includes Intel Core 8th generation and later, AMD Zen+ and later, and Qualcomm Snapdragon 850 and later.The compatibility list also includes the "AF" revisions of Ryzen processors and the Intel Core i7-7820HQ (a 7th generation processor), although the latter is only supported on devices that shipped with DCH-based drivers. Devices with unsupported processors are not blocked from installing or running Windows 11, however a clean install must be performed as Windows Update will prevent an upgrade from Windows 10. Additionally, Microsoft has stated that devices using unsupported processors may be blocked from installing updates.
Legacy BIOS is no longer supported; a UEFI system with Secure Boot and a TPM 2.0 security coprocessor is now required.The TPM requirement in particular has led to confusion as many motherboards do not have TPM support, require a compatible TPM module to be physically installed onto the motherboard, or have a built-in TPM on the CPU firmware or hardware level that is disabled by default which requires changing settings in the computer's UEFI to enable.Original equipment manufacturers can still ship computers without the TPM 2.0 coprocessor upon Microsoft's approval.
The new Windows UI
The most obvious changes to Windows 11 are on the user interface (UI) front. Microsoft has always had a tendency to mess with its UI, and for Windows 11, it hasn't held back. There's a new look for existing windows, and it's revisited its frosted-glass effect for some overlapping panels. The start button has moved, widgets are making a comeback, and
The general ethos is a move to a softer, more-rounded theme. Windows no longer have the right-angle corners that we've become accustomed to but are rounded instead. It's a subtle change, but it's it does have a different feel—at least it does when the windows are not full screen.
The other major change is the shifting of the taskbar to the middle of the screen, as opposed to being squeezed into the bottom left-hand corner. Worry not though, you can move it back to how it works in Windows 10 with the flick of a switch on the Taskbar Settings screen.
How you arrange your windows on the screen has also enjoyed a long-overdue shot in the arm. Hovering your mouse over the maximize icon results in a drop-down palette that lets you select how you want the various windows to be arranged. You have some control over such things in Windows 10, but with easy support for windows taking up a third of the screen, or quarters, this can make for a much neater layout. This is particularly useful if you're rocking a large 4K screen and you want to view several apps at the same time.
One aesthetic change that is rumored to be coming to Windows 11 is an end to the Blue Screen of Death, or BSOD if you prefer. Don't worry though, that BSOD acronym will still be preserved (in English at least), as it's changing to the Black Screen of Death—which sounds far more metal.
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