Microsoft announces Windows 11 with redesigned UI, Start Menu, and Store

nanoguy

Posts: 894   +12
Staff member
Something to look forward to: Microsoft offered a first look at Windows 11 today, and it looks like it's more than a beautified Windows 10. The new OS does sport a redesigned UI, but it will also come with new features designed to improve performance, productivity, and a new Microsoft Store that offers unprecedented freedom for developers to bring their apps in and monetize them however they want. It looks promising, but we'll pass our final judgment when it lands later this year.

After weeks of teasers and leaks that indicated Microsoft was ready to turn Windows up to 11, now it's official -- the company today announced that Windows 11 is the next generation of Windows that sports a modernized interface and numerous improvements in usability across device form factors, performance, gaming-focused features, hardened security, and smart integrations with productivity tools like Teams.

As we already know from the recently leaked development build, the Start Menu now lives in the center of the taskbar and sports a UI that borrows a lot from the Windows 10X concept that Microsoft previously worked on for a separate project that's now essentially dead. In a sense, Windows 11 is a fusion between Windows 10 and Windows 10X that goes from rounded corners and the use of Fluent Design to making the Windows environment more customizable and even allowing Android apps to run on it alongside desktop apps.

Live Tiles are now officially dead, which makes the Windows 11's Start Menu cleaner. Now it's a simple app launcher where you can also jump to recent documents, and when you need to do more you can always jump to the separate search interface.

The new interface has already drawn comparisons to macOS and Chrome OS, and for good reason -- Microsoft took inspiration from those operating systems to make Windows look more modern.

Many of you will no doubt be pleased to hear that Microsoft is updating the dark and light modes, which are a mess in Windows 10 and definitely needed more love. Panos Panay says the Windows team has "obsessed over every detail" to "put you in control and bring a sense of calm and ease," and it does look like this is more than just Windows 10 with rounded corners. Touch mode is also improved, as is inking which will support haptic feedback.

One area that has remained largely the same since Windows 7 was the window snap feature, but on Windows 11 this has been expanded with a flyout that allows you to quickly choose from several different window layouts to suit your personal preference.

The new feature is called Snap Layouts, and its usefulness is doubled in conjunction with Snap Groups and Desktops that remember your window layouts for future use. It's a huge blessing for people who work on multiple monitors or routinely connect their clamshell or 2-in-1 to an external monitor.

Microsoft is integrating Teams chat and videoconferencing functionalities directly into the Windows 11 taskbar, which is a big push away from the Skype integration in Windows 10 that never really sat well with users familiar with the desktop Skype app experience.

Skype is now fading in the background as Teams is quickly becoming one of the most used Office apps. At the same time, Teams is much more in line with Microsoft's philosophy of empowering people to be more productive, which is why the company is confident to put it front and center.

If you've loved Vista gadgets like I did, they're making quite the comeback in the form of Windows Widgets, which will live on the desktop on a dedicated interface powered by Microsoft Edge and machine learning.

A single click on the taskbar icon brings a personalized feed that slides in from the left side of the screen and looks a lot like the News and Weather one that Microsoft introduced for Windows 10. There will even be widgets that will allow you to keep up with your favorite global brands and local creators, which you'll be able to tip directly from the same interface.

For gamers, Microsoft says Windows 11 will have you covered with a number of new features that will be available on release, such as DirectStorage for faster game load times, support for Xbox Series X's Auto HDR functionality, and more.

Chief among these is DirectStorage, which means that you'll finally be able to experience the full benefits of fast NVMe storage even if you've got a PCIe 3.0 SSD. Microsoft is also introducing a "DirectStorage Optimized" certification for Windows 11 PCs that will ensure they come with the proper combination of hardware and drivers needed to take advantage of the new functionality.

Additionally, Microsoft is baking Xbox Game Pass into Windows 11 via an upgraded Xbox app which you'll be able to use to play games on the xCloud service. The company has also learned from the mistakes made with Windows 10 updates where gamers and streamers were interrupted at the worst possible moments -- Windows 11 updates will be 40 percent smaller and will install in the background without interfering with your activity.

The Microsoft Store has already gone through a few incarnations, but Windows 11 will come with a completely redesigned interface for it and speed improvements that might just make users more inclined to use it. More importantly, the company is trying to one-up Apple and Google by allowing for unprecedented freedom for developers who want to bring their apps and games to the Microsoft Store.

In a surprise move, the company will allow developers to bring any kind of app to the Microsoft Store, regardless of the framework used to build it -- win32, UWP, Electron, React Native, progressive web apps, and even Android apps.

The first great example of that is Adobe's Creative Cloud suite, which will be accompanied by Zoom, Disney+, and Microsoft's Visual Studio. Additionally, Microsoft will highlight the best apps through Stories to make it easier to find them.

Microsoft today proved it wants to earn back developers' love, as it will allow them to choose between using the company's "commerce engine" with a revenue split of 85/15 percent for apps and 88/12 percent for games, and using their own payment system with no revenue sharing involved. That means that companies like Epic who have been reluctant to bring their games to the Microsoft Store no longer have a good excuse to continue in the same fashion.

The new Microsoft Store will also be more user-friendly, with small touches like letting you install web apps through it whenever you attempt to do so. This will manifest through a pop-up over the web browser you're using to access websites that can be installed as progressive web apps.

So there you have it -- Microsoft made a good case for Windows 11 being more than a simple Windows 10 reskin, and you'll be able to get a taste of it for yourself in the coming weeks through the Insider program. The company didn't provide a release date for Windows 11, but it's expected to arrive this fall as a free upgrade for Windows 10 users.

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AmigaInside

Posts: 16   +12
TechSpot Elite
What about the stringent system requirements? They are supposedly "security-related" and a lot of devices are being left out.

Hey, I guess these may change too. Windows 10 was "the final version" after all.
 

mountains

Posts: 36   +54
The real news will be when we find out what control we have over telemetry and updates.

Will Microsoft make it easier to dual boot with Linux?

Making people use MS accounts is a non-starter! That is BS! They are probably watching to see how much outcry there is...
 

psycros

Posts: 3,557   +4,334
The real news will be when we find out what control we have over telemetry and updates.

Will Microsoft make it easier to dual boot with Linux?

Making people use MS accounts is a non-starter! That is BS! They are probably watching to see how much outcry there is...

You can still get around it in the leaked version although they push it harder than ever. Hopefully Microsoft will stop trying to be Google, otherwise a lot of folks will never upgrade. Heck, I just returned a TV because it wouldn't let me use wifi without signing up for Roku, which meant providing an email and credit card info. A growing number of consumers are utterly fed up with this garbage.
 

Dimitriid

Posts: 928   +1,708
Android apps running natively is fine, but they might need to be on Amazon's store? Don't know the details on that one.

They was also mention of full UI Linux apps on Windows so there's at least that bone thrown at us and people working on Azure stuff.

Big question for me is if the new store can actually function like a decent package manager to install Linux app dependencies or even a custom repository for Android Apps so it doesn't has to be the crappy Amazon ones (And yes that will likely be used to sideload Google Play on to windows if possible)

But I suspect it's just a redesign of the store, mostly cosmetic. Most of the stuff announced seems to be just highly cosmetic.

Overall I don't think this really needed to be a new OS altogether: in the past this would have been called a Service Pack at best: more than their usual updates but far less than a new OS altogether.
 

Dimitriid

Posts: 928   +1,708
What about the stringent system requirements? They are supposedly "security-related" and a lot of devices are being left out.

Hey, I guess these may change too. Windows 10 was "the final version" after all.

They now demand TPM to be present and enabled. I did some checking and anything from the last couple years from AMD and intel have it on the chipset level, but turning it on will mean it will break dual booting for Linux for a while and make things overall difficult.
 

ron baer

Posts: 27   +11
You can still get around it in the leaked version although they push it harder than ever. Hopefully Microsoft will stop trying to be Google, otherwise a lot of folks will never upgrade. Heck, I just returned a TV because it wouldn't let me use wifi without signing up for Roku, which meant providing an email and credit card info. A growing number of consumers are utterly fed up with this garbage.
I see it as more of a reason to switch to linux for everything if they keep down the google path
 

wiyosaya

Posts: 6,374   +4,685
The real news will be when we find out what control we have over telemetry and updates.

Will Microsoft make it easier to dual boot with Linux?

Making people use MS accounts is a non-starter! That is BS! They are probably watching to see how much outcry there is...
Hopefully, the outcry will be at a level similar to that with M$ dropping stand-alone versions of Office; they backpedaled on that due to the outcry.

At least M$ is giving some value for the money. ;) šŸ¤£
 

redhat

Posts: 167   +208
No info about telemetry,updates.privacy, widget are powered by Edge? wonder if they will collect some data. the snap feature comes from Window Tiling feature in Linux OSs.
The features are nice but, I dont want uncontrollable OS where it can decide when to update, which Apps to use etc.... Please make some articles about Linux; Elementary OS, Manjaro are few to chose from
 

wiyosaya

Posts: 6,374   +4,685
With Teams integration, it sounds like this is more designed for professionals. So, perhaps M$ wants to alienate home users? :facepalm: For my home machines, Teams is just another piece of crapware. This is the modern M$, I guess. :rolleyes:
 

ZedRM

Posts: 602   +374
What about the stringent system requirements? They are supposedly "security-related" and a lot of devices are being left out.

Hey, I guess these may change too. Windows 10 was "the final version" after all.
Those limitations(TPM2.0 & SecureBoot) do not exist in the Install.wim and are therefore artificial limitations imposed by the front-end setup. This a is a problem specific to the leaked alpha build and easily negated.

They are unlikely to become permanent as Microsoft would effectively be cutting off a majority percentage of potential users.
 

arrowflash

Posts: 460   +498
"Microsoft is also requiring UEFI, Secure Boot, and TPM 2.0 support for Windows 11."

This indeed leaves out a lot of older devices that can run Windows 10 perfectly fine.

There's also the DX12 requirement. Lots of older low end PCs and laptops running on Intel integrated graphics are going to be left out because of that. No wonder Microsoft is going to keep Windows 10 around for at least 3 more years alongside Windows 11.

I'm really disappointed that it will require UEFI, Secure Boot and TPM 2.0. My current machines already support all of that but I always leave them disabled - I don't like them and don't see the benefit on all these fangled thingies that aren't about security at all - taking control away from users is what these things are all about.
 

NoLifeDGenerate

Posts: 29   +16
The real news will be when we find out what control we have over telemetry and updates.

Will Microsoft make it easier to dual boot with Linux?

Making people use MS accounts is a non-starter! That is BS! They are probably watching to see how much outcry there is...

Yeah, can't win with OSes anymore. I ran Win 7 for 10 years and there's nothing wrong with it. Will never run 10 as a primary OS, only in VM if needed. Linux distros are a **** show too though, especially for people like me. I want a solid OS I don't have to update constantly (like an LTS), but I don't want to jump through hoops to install software and actually get the current version of any app I install. LTS builds never update the repository to give you the newer version of apps, so it's annoying.

Software in general is annoying, since everything has so many nonsensical dependencies. Nobody knows how to compile and package anything as a real standalone app anymore, and it's disgusting.

 

arrowflash

Posts: 460   +498
I'm particularly concerned about Nadella's revamped focus on the Windows Store. At first glance the changes might seem benign and even pro-user and pro-developer (like the support for Win32 software on the store).

However I suspect this might be a trojan horse. The last 6 years have shown that Nadella is desperate to kill off the Win32 ecosystem, and I doubt that sentiment has changed. He just realized he wouldn't be successful by brute forcing users into it. So what can you do? You open up the Windows Store to all Win32 software, encourage developers to flock into it with perks such as full revenue for each sale (without MS taking any cut), and get users and developers used to obtain and publish all their software on MS's walled garden, forgetting about the old days when you'd download an .exe or .zip in the developers site or some shareware/freeware repository... then you wait 4, 5 or 6 years, and when the time for Windows 12 arrives, you announce that it will be fully UWP only and won't support Win32 anymore, and Win32 apps will be removed from the Windows Store's walled garden. Guess what will happen? There will be some outcry of course, but most would capitulate and comply.
 

arrowflash

Posts: 460   +498
That is not a requirement for install, only for certain aspects of gaming.

Are you sure? Because Microsoft's systems requirements page, and some articles I've read on other sites, sure make it seem like DX12 support is a hard requirement that's mandatory just for getting into the desktop.

In fact, at first I also thought it wasn't a requirement, and someone on another forum corrected me and pointed me to links proving it... now I don't know anymore.
 

arrowflash

Posts: 460   +498
Those limitations(TPM2.0 & SecureBoot) do not exist in the Install.wim and are therefore artificial limitations imposed by the front-end setup. This a is a problem specific to the leaked alpha build and easily negated.

They are unlikely to become permanent as Microsoft would effectively be cutting off a majority percentage of potential users.

I see. It could be just a way to prevent a "leaked" alpha build from "leaking too much".

Still, there's nothing keeping Microsoft to change that to an actual requirement. Who knows. Maybe they're "testing the waters".
 

BSim500

Posts: 839   +1,887
However I suspect this might be a trojan horse. The last 6 years have shown that Nadella is desperate to kill off the Win32 ecosystem, and I doubt that sentiment has changed. He just realized he wouldn't be successful by brute forcing users into it. So what can you do? You open up the Windows Store to all Win32 software, encourage developers to flock into it with perks such as full revenue for each sale (without MS taking any cut), and get users and developers used to obtain and publish all their software on MS's walled garden, forgetting about the old days when you'd download an .exe or .zip in the developers site or some shareware/freeware repository... then you wait 4, 5 or 6 years, and when the time for Windows 12 arrives, you announce that it will be fully UWP only and won't support Win32 anymore, and Win32 apps will be removed from the Windows Store's walled garden. Guess what will happen? There will be some outcry of course, but most would capitulate and comply.
It's a valid concern and I'm pretty sure the disproportionate interest Valve has put into Proton (relative to market share) is just as much some quiet long-term "backup plan" as it is simply being nice to Linux users. About the only other defence against that would be a massive anti-competition lawsuit for tens / hundreds of billions by every major game store combined vs Microsoft (no other store sells UWP games = it would be active sabotage) or national security issues (a lot of critical infrastructure use Win32 based apps in a lot of countries), and before someone comments, "Win32 API" means both 32 & 64 bit variants of what makes traditional Windows applications, ie, stuff that isn't UWP based.