What a day! If you were expecting the Windows 11 event to be all about "lipstick on a pig," well you need to get caught up! Today's event was about so much more than a UI refresh, so much so that the new UI elements like a centered taskbar and a new Start menu were barely mentioned. In case you missed the webcast or our live blog, let's recap the day's momentous announcements:
This was perhaps one of the least surprising announcements of the day, but Microsoft did make it official: Windows 11 will be a free upgrade, and will be available "this fall." Once it does come out, Windows 11 will leave the "spring and fall" updates model behind, opting for one major update per year.
Microsoft announced today that the first Windows 11 builds will be ready for downloading next week, but don't expect everything the company showed off today to be in those first new builds. In fact, it could be some time before Windows Insider builds come close to the vision we saw today. For some Insiders, that's perfectly alright, of course, as it means a steady stream of new stuff to test, something that's been missing from recent Windows Insider participation. There are some caveats, however. Microsoft is placing some fairly strict hardware requirements on Beta Channel participation, including PCs with 64-bit processors, a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) version 2.0, and a DirectX 12 compatible GPU. Insiders will be getting a first look at the new Store next week, too (see below).
Microsoft Store is getting a huge upgrade, with a new look, 3rd party movies and tv, and Android apps (!!)
The updates to the Microsoft Store may have been the star of the show this morning: a new look and feel; Stories, offering "rich editorial content" to help you learn more about apps; a new "pop up store" interface making it easier to install apps from a web page without pulling you away from what you were doing; a new redesigned set of Microsoft apps including Teams, Visual Studio, Notepad, and Paint, with more to come; developer support for adding "any kind of app, regardless of packaging technology," which can include Win32 of course but also .NET, UWP, Xamarin, Electron, React Native, Java and PWAs; and yes, Android Apps! - coming to Windows 11 PCs and the Microsoft Store via the Amazon App Store.
Microsoft also announced that developers will be able to keep 100% of the revenues they earn from their commerce platforms.
Microsoft announced today that it's leaning heavily on Intel's Bridge technology to help power mobile applications and and games on Windows 11.
Satya Nadella just got done saying that he's all in on gaming, and Windows 11 is all in on gaming, too.
Teams has been a pleasant surprise for Microsoft, fueled by the work from home ethic made necessary by the pandemic, and the company continues to signal big bets on a "hybrid" future of work. Teams will be built in to Windows 11, and new apps are coming that will allow it to work better across all kinds of devices.
Much more to come
The day's announcements aren't even finished yet, with a developer focused event set to start soon, lots more to come regarding the UI (including more news about a new File Explorer), and maybe even another surprise or two down the road. However, along with all these new additions, Windows users will be losing some features too. Were you surprised by today's events? What do you think of Windows 11 so far? Let us know in the comments below.