At its “What’s next for the Windows” event, Microsoft finally announced the next version of Windows — Windows 11. Although this had leaked online already, there’s plenty new and perhaps undiscovered that was divulged by Panos Panay and the team. Windows 11 is much cleaner, secure, more accessible, and promises to be better at performance and power efficiency. There’s also a newer Store, faster background updates, redesigned elements across the UI, and a lot more here.
We have the Windows 11 Insider Preview installed on our systems. So, the things mentioned hereon include both what we have experienced and what we have gathered through the official Windows 11 announcement.
Windows 11: Everything you need to know
- When will Windows 11 release? And is the Windows 11 upgrade free?
- Windows 11 System Requirements
- How to download and install Windows 11
- Best Windows 11 Features and Changes
When will Windows 11 release? And is the Windows 11 upgrade free?
If you don’t want to risk flashing this pre-release software, you can wait until Windows 11 is readily available. Windows 10 Users would get this upgrade for free. Also note that recently Microsoft updated the Windows 10 end of support date to be October 14, 2025. Therefore, current Windows 10 users have enough time to postpone the upgrade if they wish so for some reason.
Microsoft said Windows 11 will release in the Holiday season, 2021, which is expected to be around October month. However, till then, its beta builds should be available to Windows Insiders. You can sign up for the Windows Insider Program here.
Windows 11 System Requirements?
|Processor||1 GHz or faster with 2 or more cores on a compatible 64-bit processor or System on a Chip (SoC)|
|Storage||64 GB or larger storage device|
|System firmware||UEFI, Secure Boot capable|
|TPM||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 colour channel|
|Internet connection and Microsoft accounts||Windows 11 Home edition requires internet connectivity and a Microsoft account to complete device setup on first use.|
In its official blog, Microsoft notes, “devices running on Intel 8th generation processors and AMD Zen 2 as well as Qualcomm 7 and 8 Series” as the minimum system requirements for Windows 11. However, the company says it will be testing “devices running on Intel 7th generation and AMD Zen 1” to see if they meet this requisite.
Also, regarding TPM, a company document reads, “Upon approval from Microsoft, OEM systems for special purpose commercial systems, custom order, and customer systems with a custom image are not required to ship with a TPM support enabled”. This would cover machines shipped to markets like Russia and China, where TPM and equivalent encryption systems are restricted.
As for customers in the rest of the world, including India, TPM 2.0 or specific CPU is not required for testing the Insider builds.
How to download and install Windows 11
Microsoft released the first Insider Preview of Windows 11 on June 28, 2021. It is available through Windows Update section in the Settings. If you are part of the Windows Insider Dev Channel, you can tap on Check for Updates, download the release, install it, and restart the device.
The version we installed on our testing laptop is Dev build v.22000.51. Before you proceed, do note that it would be buggy. You can check out the known issues of Windows 11 Insider Preview here. In Microsoft’s own words, “This is prerelease software. Windows Insider Preview builds may be substantially modified before they are commercially released”. And so we won’t recommend installing it on your daily driver.
That said, here’s the download link of the Windows 11 Insider Preview build. This is a Google Drive link. Just right-click on the Windows 11 folder and press Download. Wait for the Zip file to process and finish downloading.
The downloaded file will be an ISO image. You can use the Rufus tool to boot it from a pen drive by the following steps:
- Run Rufus Portable
- Ensure your pen drive is shown under Device tab in Rufus
- Select the ISO file from your download location
- Press Start
It will take some time for the bootable USB to be ready. And once it is, eject the pen drive and use it to flash Windows 11 on the laptop of your choice. Again, it is not advisable to run this build on your primary device.
And finally, here’s everything new on the Windows 11 —
Best Windows 11 Features and Changes
1. Windows 11: New OOBE
The out of the box experience has got a facelift. Although it is visually pleasing, I find some of the options mandatory, which were earlier skippable. This includes connecting to a network (WiFi), signing in to a Microsoft account, and setting up a PIN.
2. Windows 11 Centered Start Menu and Search Window
The Start Menu and Search Window are centered just like the taskbar icons. You can align these back to the left-hand side if that’s what you prefer. There’s also a search bar within the Start menu.
3. Windows 11 Taskbar and Action Center
There are new options in the taskbar settings such as showing/hiding buttons like Widgets, Desktop, Task View, and Search. The icons in the action center now have slightly rounded corners.
4. Windows 11 Task View
The Windows Task View also has been redesigned.
5. Windows 11 Snap Controls
It seems multitasking will be a tad bit easier with the new snap controls that are accessible by hovering over the maximize button on all app windows. It lets you quickly snap windows in varied forms. You can also save a bunch of snap windows as “Snap Group” which can be accessed later from the taskbar.
6. Windows 11 Widgets
Microsoft News has been reworked into Widgets which offers a quick glance at the news, weather updates, sports scores, etc. Neat!
7. Windows 11 New Wallpapers, Icons, and Sounds
Whence you open File Explorer, you’d notice the new icons for common libraries. Well, several icons seems to have gotten this overhaul.
It’s not just icons, but Windows 11 also brings new sounds (including startup tone), and wallpapers. There’s option to set different wallpapers for multiple desktops.
You can download all the new Windows 11 wallpapers here.
8. Windows 11 Gaming
Windows 11 also sees a tighter integration of Xbox Game Pass (with 100+ games) through Xbox app and xCloud for cloud gaming. There are various new perks like Auto HDR enhancement, Direct storage API which enables games to use Graphics card directly,
9. Windows 11 Docking
If you use an external monitor for the purposes of work or play, Windows 11 remembers the window locations based on monitor connection and minimizes windows when the external monitor is disconnected. Later when you re-dock it, all the windows will be displayed the way you had them before. The settings for Rearrange Multiple Displays are present within System > Display > Multiple Displays.
10. Windows 11 Tablet Mode
Tablet mode on Windows 11 looks more seamless and handy. There are new features like a floating and more featured keyboard, voice typing, haptic feedback with Stylus, bigger touch targets, and more convenient multitasking on both horizontal and vertical orientations.
11. Windows 11 Store
Microsoft now allows developers to submit any apps through their personal “commerce engine” without paying any cut/commission to the company. Moreover, the Store now lets in Android apps too. You will be able to download apps through the Amazon app store present within the Microsoft store and for this to work, you will require an account with the Amazon app store. A Microsoft engineer has also hinted at the option of sideloading Android apps on Windows. This new functionality will be supported on Windows PCs with Intel, AMD, and ARM CPUs.
Microsoft CEO and Chairman Satya Nadella has promised the new store will “unlock greater economic opportunity for developers and creators”. Mr. Panay corroborated this by saying, “We want you to bring any technology”. This will definitely increase the number of app options for the user.
We are sure to find more features and changes as we start using the official Windows 11 release. For instance, while using, we had found the combined clipboard and emoji panel as well as the new Windows Terminal. Also, with eventual updates, the experience is expected to get better. We will be updating how it goes here. So, keep this page bookmarked for every news, tips, tricks, and details related to Windows 11.