Last week, Windows 11 released worldwide bringing significant design changes and many more upgrades to how devices updated to the new OS will work.
The biggest change you’ll notice when upgrading to Windows 11 is it’s clean, elegant and polished design. When you launch the OS, you’re still greeted with a taskbar and a desktop, but now the taskbar is centered in the middle, rather than in the left corner.
There is an improved feature called “Desktops“, which helps you set up and manage multiple versions of your desktop. Although, this feature was present on Windows 10, now there are a lot more options available to tailor each single environment created.
You can also give a different name to each desktop, even though they all access the same files on your machine and access the same Microsoft Account. Apps and windows left open in one desktop aren’t duplicated in others, and each one can also have its own custom cosmetics such as wallpaper and theme.
This could look like having one desktop for daily use, and one “cleaned up” desktop for presentations, or a “work” desktop and a “home” that some business users could really benefit from.
The other big feature of this Windows version is the “Widgets“. They are self-updating blocks showing the weather, news, calendar. It should be very familiar to anyone who owns an Android phone.
Windows 11 is also packing an interesting new functionality called “Snap Groups“. The new software will remember the apps you’ve been using simultaneously and will allow you to group them together.
The idea: if you’re working on something that requires multiple applications in a multi-window layout, you’ll have easy access to that template in the future.
Microsoft promises that this grouping logic not only remembers the apps you were using, but also the window layout you had. When you click to activate that grouping, all the apps you were using will reappear in the exact same layout you had before.
If you’re docking a laptop with an external monitor, Windows 11 will also remember the layout you had on that monitor. This functionality will work seamlessly with multiple desktops as well.
There are also changes in the way that Microsoft will update the newest system. In the official release, an “annual feature update cadence” has been revealed. Windows 10 has received feature updates twice a year since launch, though most users will not notice the difference.
The updates will be delivered in “the second half of the calendar year”, likely in October or November. Each will be officially supported for 24 months (36 for Enterprise and Education customers) from the time of release, although Microsoft recommends updating your device as soon as possible.
That doesn’t mean, however, we’ll be waiting until the end of next year for Windows 11’s most high-profile missing feature: Native Android app support (via the Amazon Appstore) is available to members of the Windows Insider Program now, ahead of an expected release in early 2022. (More details of this feature will be announced soon.)
To upgrade to the new software computers will need to meet some minimum requirements, including:
- Processor: 2 or more cores running at 1+ GHz
- Storage: 64+ GB
- 4+ GB of RAM
- Security requirements: Secure Boot, TPM 2.0
- Screen: At least 9 inches with 720p resolution or higher
- Graphics card: compatible with DirectX 12 (or later) and WDDM 2.x.
- Internet connectivity and a Microsoft account
Support for Windows 10 will continue through October 14, 2025. So, if you’re a business facing a potentially expensive upgrade experience, just know you have time. We will work closely with our managed clients to ensure a smooth transition to the new software.
Our Recommendation: Wait To Upgrade Later.
Window 11 has an incredible design, and plenty of new features. However, it doesn’t have any urgent security updates or must-have features, mostly nice-to-have items and quality of life functionalities.
Early adopting an operating system like Windows 11 puts you on the bleeding edge. While design gets changed with a new OS, some “under the hood” systems get changed too. Many applications could have yet unknown issues on Windows 11, or will run on the system, but won’t receive vendor support.
Prior to updating, we recommend testing the news features alongside the applications that you use the most on your day-to-day life. Some of these applications may experience hiccups when working on the new OS. For our clients, we’ll be planning, testing and coordinating any Win11 upgrade when the time is right.
In general, we recommend waiting until the first cumulative patch or service pack which fixes first round of bugs, prior to upgrading to the new operating system. Companies that are mostly cloud-based will likely be able to upgrade a little sooner. Especially if they work heavily within the Microsoft 365, and teams ecosystem.
Also, it is good practice to allow time for the newest OS to be “out in the wild” and let other users uncover what incompatibilities exist prior to upgrading your devices.