October 9, 2021
Remember how I've been telling you that Windows 10 would be the last version of Windows? And instead of releasing an entirely new operating system every few years, Microsoft planned to release major upgrades to Windows 10 annually?
Ahem. Well. Six years after introducing Windows 10, say hello to Windows 11.
Six years is a long time for babies and operating systems, so eventually, Microsoft's list of design changes added features, and security improvements led to Windows 11. Microsoft announced Windows 11 back in June and released it on October 5.
Good news! Windows 11 is a free upgrade!
And yes, it will probably run on your current computer. Here are Microsoft's minimum requirements for Windows 11:
Processor: An 8th-generation or later, 64-bit, 1 GHz processor with at least two cores
System Firmware: UEFI, Secure Boot capable.
TPM: Trusted Platform Module 2.0.
Graphics Card: DirectX 12 or later with WDDM 2.0 driver.
Display: 720p, 8-Bit per color channel, at least 9-inch diagonal.
An active internet connection and a Microsoft account for the install.
Newer computers should be fine, but Microsoft has a handy tool to check if your computer can run Windows 11. Download the PC Health Check App here: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/windows-11#pchealthcheck.
Windows 11 isn't a mandatory feature upgrade. There will be lots of advertising for Windows 11, but your computer won't upgrade without your permission this time. You can choose to never upgrade to Windows 11, at least until Microsoft stops supporting Windows 10, which won't be until 2025.
So, what do we get in Windows 11?
The biggest thing, and the one you'll pay the slightest attention to on a day-to-day basis, is security. Microsoft has worked on ways to keep our computers safer with the rise of ransomware, the SolarWinds hacks, and the Spectre and Meltdown processor problems. To do so, Windows 11 will have hardware-based isolation, secure booting, and code integrity turned on by default. In addition, using Windows Hello to login using biometrics (your face or your fingerprint) and device encryption is more accessible. Finally, Windows 11 requires an 8th generation or later Intel processor to correct the architecture flaw which caused the Spectre and Meltdown security issues a few years ago.
There's also a new design language called Fluent Design, replacing Windows 10's Modern language. As a result, things like icons and window borders look different. Most of the significant Windows apps now use the Fluent language.
Android apps from the Amazon App Store are now available in the redesigned Microsoft Store app.
Probably the most significant thing you'll see is that now the Start menu pops up in the middle of the screen.
Here are some more improvements and changes in Windows 11.
• Better multi-monitor support enabling disconnected monitors to remember windows and positions when reconnecting.
• The old Taskbar is the new Dock and is touch-optimized.
• The touch experience now incorporates gestures.
• The Microsoft Teams app gets integrated into the Dock.
• Windows Widgets are back, and there are lots of them.
• Gaming is better; the new Game Pass app lets you buy, manage and remove games. Support for HDR allows better lighting and contrast in games. Direct Storage enables you to download game assets locally for better gameplay.
• Haptic feedback is available for pen and stylus users.
In a hurry to get Windows 11? It's probably a good idea to wait until the first Windows 11 update comes out in early 2022, but if you're champing at the bit, here's what to do:
• Check your computer's compatibility using the PC Health Check app.
• Back up your critical data.
• Schedule the upgrade for when you have a few hours to spare.
Do you have a computer or technology question? Greg Cunningham has been providing Tehachapi with on-site PC and network services since 2007. Email Greg at email@example.com.