Microsoft officially announces Windows 11, coming this fall as a free upgrade

Laurent Giret

Microsoft officially announced Windows 11 this morning during a much-anticipated digital event featuring Chief Product Officer Panos Panay. A leaked pre-release build of the new OS had already revealed some of its secrets, but it turns out Microsoft had kept many more Windows 11 surprises under wraps.

As expected Windows 11 will be a free update for all Windows 10 users, and it will be released later this year. Unfortunately, the company won’t release an official beta version of the OS until next week, but Microsoft has already detailed what Windows Insiders can expect when the company starts flighting the first Windows 11 build.

Windows 11 introduces several big changes to the desktop OS including a redesigned Start Menu with no Live Tiles, new themes, a personalized feed with widgets, and a new multitasking menu. Microsoft Teams will also be integrated directly into Windows 11, allowing users to access the communications hub right from the taskbar. Teams become a very popular alternative to Slack and Zoom in recent months, and this move will certainly put more pressure on competitors.

Microsoft also promised an unrivaled gaming experience with features like DirectX12 Ultimate, Direct Storage, Auto HDR, and a new Xbox app that integrates Xbox Cloud Gaming. The company also said today that Windows users can expect general performance improvements on Windows 11 and more 40% smaller updates that will happen in the background. Overall, these new gaming features and performance improvements should definitely help Windows to remain the best platform for PC gaming.

With Windows 11, Microsoft will also launch a brand new Microsoft Store that the company says will feature the most popular brands worldwide. The Microsoft Store originally launched with Windows 8 back in 2012, but the new version that will ship with Windows 11 should finally bring the apps and games Windows users really care about. To get more developers on board, the company will allow them to use their own commerce engine so they can keep 100% of the revenue.

The Microsoft Store on Windows 11 will welcome Win32, PWA, UWP apps, as well as Android apps, which is a groundbreaking move from the company. Microsoft will be using the Amazon Android App store to bring these apps to Windows 11, and it will be interesting to see the new possibilities that Android apps can bring on the desktop OS.

Windows 11 will be available this holiday as a free upgrade for Windows 10 users, but it will also ship on new PCs coming later this year. Microsoft has released today a download the PC Health Check app that can tell users if their PCs are compatible with the new OS. “We’re also working with our retail partners to make sure Windows 10 PCs you buy today are ready for the upgrade to Windows 11,” Microsoft said today.