With around 1.5billion active users worldwide, the MS Windows NT operating system is as popular as ever. And now, Microsoft has released its latest free upgrade – Windows 11. So if you’re a Windows user, what can you expect to see? In this post, we’ll take a look at some of the features and improvements included with this colossal update – the first in six years – as well as giving you the lowdown on everything else you need to know.
What is Windows 11?
Announced back in June 2021 and launched on 5th October 2021, Windows 11 is the latest major update release of the Windows PC operating system from Microsoft. Available now, Windows 11 is the first major OS release since 2015’s Windows 10 and is available as a free upgrade to all Windows 10 users.
It’s also being touted that following the release of Windows 11, Microsoft is committing to one major upgrade each year. This is a change from the two updates every year that happened with Windows 10. And following the initial desktop version, Microsoft will also be launching Windows 11 across their range of devices so you’ll be able to upgrade your smartphone or tablet – if it’s eligible.
What’s the difference between Windows 10 and Windows 11?
Before you take the leap and upgrade, you’ll want to know what the key differences are between Windows 10 and this latest version – and whether it’s worth upgrading at all. So, while looking more and more Mac-like in its design and appearance (which has already met with some resistance) for ease of use, many of its tweaks, changes, and improvements have taken place ‘under the hood’. But let’s have a look at just a few of the bigger changes Windows 11 brings.
Android app integration
Windows 11 will (eventually) allow you to run Android apps natively on your PC rather than through an Android emulator. Downloading the apps through the Microsoft store, via the Amazon Appstore, will bring Windows 11 and mobile devices closer together for a more ‘everything everywhere’ experience.
MS Teams now built-in
The video-based collaborative software has proved increasingly popular and indispensable over the last couple of years and Windows 11 sees Teams get a major facelift. But it’s also been added directly into the redesigned taskbar, making it easier to get to.
Widgets for fast info
Having been around in different guises for some time, Widgets are completely customisable to give you the information you want, whenever you want it. Available via a click on your taskbar, Widgets will slide onto your screen giving you ‘at a glance’ updates for calendar reminders, to-do lists, or news.
Virtual desktop support
Giving you complete control over how you use Windows 11 for every part of your life – from work to personal use or even gaming – setting up and personalising different virtual desktops lets you switch quickly and easily between them via the taskbar.
Snap Layouts and Snap Groups for multitasking
When you need to have multiple windows open, Windows 11 gives you the option of arranging them in different Snap layouts to make the best use of your screen space. And you can use new Snap Groups to take those Snap Layouts and save them so you can open them again at any time.
Is Windows 11 faster and safer than Windows 7,8, or 10?
Every OS will always aim to be bigger and better than its predecessor when it’s released, and Windows 11 is no different. Power, and more specifically security, are two key issues, both for Microsoft themselves, but more importantly, for their users.
What was once considered powerful and safe in previous Windows releases, would be nowhere near powerful or safe enough now. But while there’s no real advance in power compared to Windows 10 – though much depends on your computer’s processor speed, available RAM and so on – Microsoft has certainly made inroads into system security.
Newer systems running Windows 11 will come with a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) 2.0 chip to create a hardware barrier and protect encryption keys, user details, and other sensitive data from hardware and malware attacks.
What are the minimum hardware requirements for Windows 11?
Microsoft makes it pretty clear that in some circumstances, you “might want to consider purchasing a new PC”, though many PC’s that are less than four years old will be able to upgrade successfully. But besides needing a Microsoft account and an internet connection, according to Microsoft your minimum hardware requirements for a full Windows 11 installation should include:
Processor 1GHz or faster with a minimum of 2 cores on a compatible 64-bit processor or System on a Chip (SoC)
Storage 64GB 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 HD (720p) display, greater than 9” diagonally, 8 bits per colour channel
How to get Windows 11
Windows 11 is available for you to download and use straight away. Make sure your PC meets the minimum hardware requirements (and always back up before an installation), then click on ‘Check for Windows updates’ or hit the ‘Start’ button and go to: Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update.
Can I upgrade to Windows 11 from Windows 8 or 10?
To upgrade to Windows 11, you must be running Windows 10 (version 2004 or later – the May 2020 update). You can’t upgrade to Windows 11 from Windows 8 directly, but if you’re running Windows 8, you can upgrade to Windows 10 for free before upgrading to Windows 11.
Is it safe to upgrade to Windows 11 after its release?
It’s always tempting to upgrade to any new Windows version as soon as it’s released. But while it will be ‘safe’ to do so, you might want to hold off for a while. No matter how good any upgrade is, there will always be an update available within a few weeks.
The update is usually a result of millions of people, all with different PC setups and configurations, downloading and installing the initial release, then experiencing minor (or major) issues. By reporting them back to Microsoft, the resulting update (also free to download) should patch any of these issues, making it a safer bet to download and use, trouble-free.
Steps you should take before you upgrade to Windows 11
While you might be excited about installing Windows 11, being prepared is key. So before you even attempt to download it, you should always make sure your current PC and set-up are capable of running it. Check the minimum hardware requirements you need (above) and make adjustments if you need to, such as increasing your RAM or graphics card, to make sure you can install properly.
And before any update or upgrade, you should always, always, a-l-w-a-y-s back up your files and data before installation, either onto an external hard drive or through Windows’ OneDrive PC Folder Backup.
Windows 11 help from Geeks On Wheels
Because Windows 11 requires a certain level of hardware and software to install, it can be difficult to know whether your PC can download and run it at all. There may also be confusion about where things are or how things work thanks to the new look and feel. But that’s what Geeks On Wheels are here for.
Whether you’re updating your home PC or a network of PCs in your office, we’re on hand to give you the reliable, independent on-site or remote support and advice you need. Contact us today and we’ll help you get the most out of your Windows 11 upgrade.