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Windows 11’s release wasn’t a surprise when it happened today, but it brought more features than a few curvy boxes and a central start menu. In fact, there are some really smart additions to the new version of the Windows operating system that will benefit all types of people, from business users to gamers.Windows has been around in various forms for 35 years and has remained the most popular operating platform for most of it. However, the competition has never been fiercer, with Mac OS and Chrome offering real alternatives, Microsoft needed to find a way to keep Windows relevant for a new generation.
While we did see some flashbacks, this release was about looking forward to Windows, building a platform for the future. It focused on providing a way for others to be successful and gave users the choice between the applications and programs they use, a thinly veiled view of the competition. Here’s a rundown of the best new features that will be introduced to you when you upgrade to Windows 11.
THE TEAMS ARE BUILT
Microsoft Teams may not have the attractiveness factor of Zoom, or even Google Meet, but it has provided a robust workplace solution for many users in recent years and has recently been changing consumers more. With Windows 11, Teams is built into the platform, making it easier for you to connect and share. Whether you’re sending files or video conferencing, everything is now available with just a couple of clicks. Unsurprisingly, Skype was not mentioned here; I’m afraid it has finally gone the way of MSN Messenger.
Multitasking is a big approach in Windows 11, recognizing that most users are trying to keep an eye on more than one app at a time these days (I’m currently working on two screens that are full of windows). New snap layouts allow you to organize multiple windows on your screen more easily, with a variety of layouts available by default. These can be stored as groups of snapshots, allowing you to go and look at something else, and then return directly to your multitasking view with a single click, rather than having to set it up again.
DESKS AND SECOND SCREEN
For those who use their computers for multiple functions, such as a work machine, personal machine, or gaming machine, Windows now allows them to group projects and configure multiple desktops. These desks allow you to have things set up as you need them for work and then switch to a personal desktop for your night browsing and then switch back easily. He describes them as different rooms and you can customize the names for each one.
For those using a second monitor, when they unplug the screen again, Windows 11 will minimize the view of the monitor, rather than dumping it all onto your laptop screen. And when you plug it back into your monitor, it will open like before. This is a really useful addition, as anyone using a second screen will know.
Windows widgets are a new custom feed that is pulled from the side of the screen, with your choice of news and reports. You can view them as a sidebar or pull them out to fill the entire screen. This feels similar to widgets on MacOS, with things like calendar view, weather, featured stories, and photos available. However, it is a nice feature, especially when working on a single screen.
To better work with hybrid devices, Windows 11 provides an adaptive display that can rotate for portrait use. There was no mention of how the OS would work with dual screen and foldable devices, but I guess they are now better supported here as well. The presentation focused on the use of the Surface Pro when the keyboard was removed and how it supports other inputs.
GESTURE AND PENCIL CONTROL, TOUCH KEYPAD AND VOICE CONTROL
Windows 11 is designed to be flexible with how you want to enter information, when you don’t want to use the keyboard or mouse. It is designed for stylus use and has a new haptic response when doing so. It also has gesture control, either with a pen or with your fingers on a touch screen.
There’s a new touch keyboard that seems to work much like a smartphone keyboard – complete with swipe gestures, cursor control while holding down the space bar, and an emoji menu. You can also use voice input to dictate text, with automatic punctuation provided, as well as provide voice controls for commands such as “remove that.”
GAMES FOR WINDOWS
Where Windows 11 really gets interesting is in its support for games. Microsoft is using its expertise here with Xbox to deliver a more powerful gaming experience with Windows 11. Games created on the Direct X 11 (or higher) platform will benefit from an automatic HDR feature in Windows 11, as implemented on Xbox. This will benefit thousands of games, including titles like Age of Empires.
Another feature inherited from Xbox is direct storage. This allows assets to be loaded onto the graphics card to greatly reduce loading time. This will require the right hard drives and controllers to take advantage of it, but will most likely benefit high-end gaming machines.