Windows 11 is a major release of the Windows NT operating system, announced on June 24, 2021, and developed by Microsoft. It is expected to be released in late 2021, and will be available as a free upgrade from Windows 10 through Windows Update
After the release of Windows 10, Microsoft officially stated that it would be “the last version of Windows”. The operating system was considered to be a service, with new builds and updates to be released over time. However, speculation of a new version or a redesign of Windows arose after a job listing referring to a “sweeping rejuvenation” of Windows was posted by Microsoft. A visual refresh for Windows, developed under the codename “Sun Valley”, was reportedly set to modernize the system’s user interface. The Windows 11 name was accidentally released in an official Microsoft support document during June.
Leaked images of a purported beta build of Windows 11’s desktop surfaced online on June 15, 2021, which were followed by a leak of the aforementioned build on the same day. The screenshots and leaked build show an interface resembling that of the canceled Windows 10X, alongside a redesigned out-of-box experience (OOBE) and Windows 11 branding.
At the Microsoft Build 2021 developer conference, CEO and chairman Satya Nadella teased the next generation of Windows during his keynote. According to Nadella, he had been self-hosting it for several months. He also teased that an official announcement would come very soon. Just a week after Nadella’s keynote, Microsoft started sending invitations for a dedicated Windows event at 11 am ET on June 24, 2021. Microsoft also posted an 11-minute Windows start-up sound video to YouTube on June 10, with many people speculating both the Microsoft event and Windows start-up sound video to be a reference to the name of the operating system as Windows 11. Windows 11 was officially announced by Microsoft during the event on June 24.
User interface and design
The leaked development build of Windows 11 features an updated user interface that follows Microsoft’s Fluent Design guidelines; translucency, shadows, and rounded corners are prevalent throughout the operating system. A redesigned Start menu is used, which eliminates the tiles on the right side. The taskbar is also streamlined and centered by default, however, an option to left-align the taskbar remains. Task View, a feature introduced in Windows 10, features a refreshed design. Windows 11 also introduces snap features, which allows windows to be automatically adjusted from several preset options from a snap navigator. Other changes to the system include new system icons, animations, sounds, and widgets. Much of the interface and start menu take heavy inspiration from the now-canceled Windows 10X.
Windows 11 features a new font, Segoe UI Variable. The font is designed to scale better with modern high DPI displays, which the old Segoe UI did not account for.
Windows 11 includes a widgets panel accessible by clicking the widgets button on the taskbar. The widgets display news, sports, weather, and finance from MSN. In the leaked developer build, widgets cannot be dragged or rearranged (although this feature has been showcased in the announcement) and accessing the widgets panel requires signing in with a Microsoft account. This replaces the news and interests on taskbar which appeared in later versions of Windows 10.
Microsoft Teams will be integrated into Windows 11, which will be accessible from the taskbar. Xbox Game Pass will be distributed within the operating system, and features of the Xbox Series X and Series S, Auto HDR and DirectStorage, will also be integrated into Windows 11.
Windows 11 will allow users to install select Android apps onto their computer, which can be done within the Microsoft Store via the Amazon Appstore.
Windows 11 now requires an x86_64 or ARM64 processor; support for IA-32 processors has been removed. BIOS is no longer supported; a UEFI system with Secure Boot and TPM 2.0 is now required. S mode is no longer supported and needs to be switched out of before upgrading.
Hardware requirements for Windows 11
||1 Gigahertz (GHz) or faster with 2 or more cores on a compatible 64-bit processor or System on a Chip (SoC)
||4 Gigabyte (GB)
||64 GB or larger storage device
||UEFI, Secure Boot capable
||Trusted Platform Module (TPM) version 2.0
||Compatible with DirectX 12 or later with WDDM 2.0 driver
||High definition (720p) display that is greater than 9” diagonally, 8 bits per color channel
|Internet connection and Microsoft accounts
||Windows 11 Home edition requires internet connectivity and a Microsoft account to complete device setup on first use.Switching a device out of Windows 11 Home in S mode also requires internet connectivity.
For all Windows 11 editions, internet access is required to perform updates and to download and take advantage of some features. A Microsoft account is required for some features.
Additional requirements for optional functionality
||5G capable modem
||HDR capable monitor
|Bit Locker to Go
||USB flash drive (available in Windows Pro and above editions)
||Processor with second level address translation (SLAT) capabilities (available in Windows Pro and above editions)
||Microphone and speaker and is currently available on Windows 11 for Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Spain, United Kingdom, and United States.
||1 TB or greater NVMe SSD to store and run games that uses the “Standard NVM Express Controller” driver and a DirectX 12 Ultimate GPU
|DirectX 12 Ultimate
||Available with supported games and graphics chips
||Sensor that can detect human distance from device or intent to interact with device
|Intelligent Video Conferencing
||Video camera, microphone, and speaker (audio output)
|Multiple Voice Assistant (MVA)
||Microphone and speaker
||Three-column layouts require a screen that is 1920 effective pixels or greater in width
|Mute/Unmute from Taskbar
||Video camera, microphone, and speaker (audio output). App must be compatible with feature to enable global mute/unmute.
||Supporting hardware and software
||Video camera, microphone, and speaker (audio output).
||Screen or monitor that supports multi-touch
||Use of PIN, biometric (fingerprint reader or illuminated infrared camera), or a phone with Wi-Fi or Bluetooth capabilities
|Wake on Voice
||Modern Standby power model and microphone
||New WLAN IHV hardware and driver and a Wi-Fi 6E capable AP/router
||Camera configured for near infrared (IR) imaging or fingerprint reader for biometric authentication. Devices without biometric sensors can use Windows Hello with a PIN or portable Microsoft compatible security key.
||Display adapter which supports Windows Display Driver Model (WDDM) 2.0 and a Wi-Fi adapter that supports Wi-Fi Direct
||Xbox network account, which is not available in all regions