Corinne Hoisington is the Professor of Information Systems Technology at Central Virginia Community College.

As I write this, please picture my forehead as a visual–palm. Yes, Microsoft originally stated that Windows 10 would be available forever. It’s over. Welcome to the next step in the technology continuum. Microsoft’s newest operating system, Windows 11, was unveiled by the company on June 24, 2021, almost six years after Windows 10. The new Windows 11 features, as well as design updates, make it easier and more intuitive.

When was Windows 11 released?
Windows 11 was released on October 5. For more information, read on.

What will Windows 11 cost?
Windows 11 will be completely free.

What are the Windows 11 Specifications?
Processor: 1 gigahertz or faster with 2 cores on a compatible 64 bit processor or System on a Chip.
RAM: 4 gigabyte (GB)
Storage: 64 GB or larger storage device
System firmware: UEFI, Secure Boot compatible
TPM: Trusted Platform Module (TPM) version 2.0
Graphics card: Compatible for DirectX 12 or later and WDDM 2.0 driver
Display: High definition (720p), display with a diagonal of 9 inches or more, 8 bits per channel
Source: Microsoft

What’s Changing?

1. New Wallpaper
Microsoft has added five new wallpapers to your desktop background or lock screen background.

2. New Theme
The default Windows 10 themes have been removed. Windows 11 features six new themes with different colors.

3. Start Menu
The Taskbar is the first thing you’ll notice, aside from the new wallpaper and the login chime. The Taskbar has been redesigned so the Start Menu and app icons are now centered (similarly with macOS) rather than left-aligned like in Windows 10. The System Tray remains in the bottom left corner. You can also revert to the left the Start button if you don’t like it.

Live tiles are gone. The Start Menu displays all your favorite apps and pinned apps, which you can customize. It would also display recent activities such as the most recently opened photo and installed apps. You can click on All Apps to access all apps or you can simply type the name of the app.

4. Built-In Windows Terminal
Windows 10 users had to manually install Windows Terminal from the Microsoft Store before they could use it in Windows 10. They have now included it in Windows 11.

5. Search Menu
Windows 11 has also made it possible to separate the search function from the Start Menu. Although the search bar is no longer at the top of the screen, the functionality is almost the same. App suggestions are displayed below the search menu based on your usage. You will see Edge browser suggestions and recently used apps to the left.

The idea is to create a Spotlight-style search that allows you to search for files, apps, settings, and other information in one place. It’s a welcome addition.

6. Redesigned App Windows
The new app windows are floating instead of being attached to Taskbar if you look closely. The windows have rounded corners which bring the design language up to date. This design is consistent across the operating systems, so whether you open File Explorer or Settings, all windows will have the same design.

7. New Icons
Windows 11 features completely new icons. The icons are brighter and have a hint of shadow, which is a departure from the flat icons of the previous version.

8. Dark Mode
This is for all Dark Mode lovers. Dark Mode is now brighter than ever. The Windows 11 Start Menu is transparent, which allows you to see the background wallpaper.

Image Source: The Verge
9. Microsoft and Third-Party Stores
You may be disappointed if you expected a complete redesign of your app. Many native apps, such as Notepad and Calculator, Action Center, and others, have not seen any design upgrades. There have been no design updates. The Settings menu remains the same, except for the Microsoft Store which has been completely redesigned. It appears that the Live Tiles, which were removed from the Start Menu, have been moved to Microsoft Store.
Microsoft may be planning to add third-party app stores for Windows 11. If this is done, we might see third-party apps stores like the Aptoide Store which offer apps at a lower price, or sometimes even free. Microsoft will also allow more apps to be sold in its Microsoft Store.

10. Quick Snapping
Another feature that is interesting is that when you hover over maximize, it now shows split-screen options. When you click on it it snaps into place. This feature was also available on Windows 10, but it is faster. Split-screen mode can also be accessed by pressing the Windows key + Left or Right Arrow.
Windows 11 will be a hit with gamers! DirectX 12 Ultimate, Microsoft’s latest graphics API, comes with Windows 11. It offers a wide range of features. This includes Sampler Feedback and Variable Rate Shading.