Windows 11, the announced successor of Windows 10, should arrive on the market in the fall of 2021. A test version is already circulating on the Net, revealing many new features before the official presentation of Microsoft on June 24…
Since the beginning of spring 2021, the Web has been buzzing with rumors about Windows. More exactly, about the next version of Windows 10, supposed to arrive in the fall. Everything came to a head in mid-June, when Microsoft announced a big press conference for June 24, talking about an event and stuffing its communication with mysterious clues. Unfortunately, the suspense was short-lived. And the surprise effect was completely spoiled. Indeed, as early as June 15, a pre-version of the future Windows was circulated on the Internet in the form of an ISO file, revealing the essence of what Microsoft had in store for its official presentation. And according to the many specialists who have installed and examined it, two things seem certain: the next version of the operating system will be called Windows 11 and will benefit from a remodeled graphical interface.
Of course, in the absence of a formal declaration, it is difficult to know what the next version of Windows will actually contain. But if we could imagine for a while that it was a cleverly orchestrated buzz operation, it seems that the leak is real. Microsoft published a tweet indicating that it was “just the beginning” while filing a complaint with Google to ask them to remove the links leading to the famous ISO copy. Some clever people have even found indications on Apple’s iCloud service explicitly referring to Windows 11…
In short, if it is very likely that the test version released on the Net reveals only a part of the new features that Microsoft has in store for its future Windows, it already allows us to glimpse the future.
LAUNCH OF WINDOWS 11 LIVE
Like many other current events, the official presentation of Windows 11 is broadcast live on the Internet on Thursday, June 24. If you want to follow Microsoft’s conference to learn more about the next PC operating system, you can go to the dedicated web page or to the Windows YouTube channel by following these links
Will Windows 11 replace Windows 10?
In 2015, when Windows 10 was released, Microsoft loudly proclaimed that it was the last version of Windows. Meaning, the ultimate version of its PC operating system. It should be noted that since the very first Windows, which appeared in the mid-1980s, the publisher has made Windows evolve many times by continually changing its naming system according to a somewhat obscure logic (Windows 3.1, Windows 95, Windows 87, Windows Me, Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows NT, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Windows 10).
With Windows 10, Microsoft was inspired by Apple’s famous Mac OS X, which presented a technological break with previous operating systems for Mac. An inspiration that was essentially limited to the name and interface, because despite many improvements, the foundations changed little, to maintain compatibility with the huge installed base of PCs in the world. Progress was nevertheless made, with improved ergonomics and stability, and Windows 10 crashed much less than its predecessors. However, despite multiple updates, many elements and tools inherited from the ancestors still persist, lost or even hidden in the depths of the system, with an interface and functions dated from another time (control panel, device manager, etc.).
In principle, Microsoft should have continued to evolve its flagship system by keeping its name with semi-annual updates. But it would seem that Windows 10 has lost some of its original lusters since 2015, especially since in 2020, Apple took an important step by moving from macOS 10 to macOS 11. Meanwhile, Microsoft had been working on a next-generation Windows for some time, dubbed Windows 10X. However, this project has been abandoned and it seems that most of the new features brought by Windows 10X have been integrated into the new version of Windows 10, in principle stamped 21H2 and nicknamed Sun Valley – yet another inspiration due to Apple, which has been naming its macOS versions after regions for a few years…
If we don’t know what was said at Microsoft’s headquarters, it would seem that the publisher has also decided to make a big move by changing the numbering of its system to Windows 11, which, in fact, will replace Windows 10. This is a way of marking, on paper, the arrival of profound changes.
When will the official version of Windows 11 be released?
Microsoft has not yet communicated anything official about the release of its next operating system. However, two clues lead us to believe that Windows 11 will be released in the fall of 2021. First, that’s when Windows 21H2, the second system update of 2021, should have been released (see our Windows 10 21H1 fact sheet: download the May 2021 update). Then Microsoft quietly announced that Windows 10 support would end in October 2025. Until then, the publisher will obviously release updates to maintain its system. But it is clear that the days and improvements of Windows 10 are now counted.
If it is therefore impossible to give a certain date, we can reasonably expect a release in October. The official answer will be on June 24, at the Microsoft conference.
What will be the compatibility of Windows 11?
Once again, it is impossible to say anything about the compatibility of the next Windows without official communication from Microsoft. However, if we are to believe the testers of the pre-release version in circulation, Windows 11 does not seem to be more demanding than Windows 10 in terms of hardware resources: its use would prove to be very fluid, even on virtual machines. It should therefore logically run on the same type of configuration, preferably with 8 GB of RAM (or more) and an SSD rather than a hard disk. Of course, some functions – such as the Hello system’s facial recognition – should require compatible components – in this case, a suitable webcam. And it’s likely that the system will be able to take advantage of recent technologies on the latest processors and graphics circuits through specific settings and options. But it seems logical that Windows 11 should not be too demanding so that it can quickly conquer the installed base of PCs. So, in all likelihood, if your computer is already running correctly with Windows 10, you should be able to switch to Windows 11 without any problem, even if it means skipping a few new features.
The same goes for the software. Since the internal architecture does not change, all applications running on Windows 10 should run on Windows 11.
What are the main new features of Windows 11?
It is of course too early to know exactly what the next Windows will be made of. But the Windows 11 pre-release gives a small glimpse of what might be included in Microsoft’s future system.
Let’s say it straight, we shouldn’t expect a revolution. This is logical since it is necessary to maintain compatibility with existing PCs and, above all, not to completely break with user habits. And without prejudging the deep and invisible changes that can be made to the foundations, most of the new features concern the interface with aesthetic changes.
- For example, the taskbar, which is still present, has been redesigned. By default, the Start menu, the search tool, and pinned applications are now displayed in the center, like the macOS Dock. However, it is possible to go back to a classic organization, by aligning everything on the left, as in Windows10.
- The search field has disappeared from the taskbar: it is replaced by a magnifying glass icon, more discreet. Its operation remains the same: it can be used both to find local content on the PC (applications, documents, etc.) and to search the Web.
- As we have been talking about for a while, the Start menu has been completely redesigned. Displayed by default in the center of the screen, it is completely rid of the tiles inherited from Windows 8 and presents only pinned applications, suggestions, and recent items, and the Start-Stop button. A menu at the top-right displays all the applications installed on the PC.
- The Active Applications icon is replaced by a Task View button, which displays, as before, a carousel of open software and the virtual desktop manager.
- Although they are not fully operational in the pre-release, widgets are back, in line with the News widget that arrived a few weeks ago in Windows 10. Thus, a Widgets button placed in the taskbar allows you to display different modules (weather, finances, sports results, news, etc.) transparently over the rest of the screen.
- As Microsoft had already hinted, the icons of the applications and system functions have been modernized, as well as in the taskbar, the Start menu, and the Explorer windows. It’s a great way to bring yourself up to date. Note that the folder icons are now more colorful, which is nice to distinguish them.
- In addition to new themes, wallpapers, sounds, and animations, as with every version of Windows, there are the light and dark modes, which have been slightly redesigned. The dark mode, which is becoming increasingly popular, is even more elegant.
- It seems that Microsoft has made significant progress in terms of display. Thus, compared to Windows 10, Windows11 should better manage the display on multiple screens – without getting tangled up as it sometimes happens.
- Rounded corners are in fashion. After Apple in macOS 11 and Google in Android 12, Microsoft has followed the trend and Windows 11 has slightly rounded windows. Purely cosmetic, to keep up with the times. Explorer obviously benefits from this aesthetic touch-up, but it is also enriched with a window organization function that seems to have been inherited in part from the Fancy Zones utility integrated into PowerToys. Thus, when you move the pointer to the upper right corner of a window, a bubble appears allowing you to choose a way to organize the placement on the screen. A new habit to get used to. Last but not least, it seems that Windows 11 keeps the size and position of open windows after the PC is shut down – as macOS does. Real progress, which would considerably improve the comfort of daily use.
- For the time being, Windows settings seem to be unchanged. And the old modules inherited from older versions of Windows (Control Panel…) still seem to be present. Let’s hope that Microsoft will make them evolve in the final version…
- In the pre-release, Skype is no longer part of the applications installed by default in Windows. It seems that Microsoft has decided to abandon its mythical solution of audio and video chat via the Internet in favor of a special version of Teams, its professional video conferencing tool, now available in a free version for the general public. According to some investigators, a Meet & Chat button placed by default on the taskbar would give access to this service in Windows 11.
- The Windows installation process is changing, with new customization options. It is thus possible, from the first startup, to specify the context in which the PC will be used (personal, professional or school), each option defining the accessible and modifiable parameters (in certain cases, they will be limited to an administrator). It is even possible to specify the use of the PC (game, creation, family…). Note that an Internet connection would seem to be mandatory to fully install Windows 11. Microsoft has obviously disabled – or at least, well-hidden – the possibility of doing a local installation for Windows 10. To be verified with the final version.
- Finally, if we believe the first tests done with the pre-release, it seems that Windows 11 is faster than Windows 10. With the same configuration, analysts have noted a speed gain of about 10% on the most famous benchmarks, which simulate costly operations. Of course, the difference is not huge, but it can be noticeable in certain uses, especially games. According to several sources, Microsoft has optimized the code of Windows 11 to take better advantage of the components, and in particular the future Intel processors – known under the code name Alder Lake – which, as it happens, should also be released in the fall of 2021. Main feature: the implementation of the architecture called big.LITTLE, a technology inherited from the ARM world that combines high-performance cores and low-power cores, forming processors described as hybrid. Here again, we’ll have to wait for the actual arrival of Windows 11 to check the progress in terms of performance on conventional PCs.
As we can see, if we stick to what the pre-release offers, Windows 11 does not bring much new compared to Windows 10, except for some cosmetic improvements. It seems wise to wait for Microsoft’s official presentation on June 24 to find out more.