It's about to get roomy: Everything you need to know about Windows 11

Several snap groups can also be positioned next to each other and minimised or maximised in groups if required. — Microsoft/dpa

BERLIN: Microsoft wanted to stop counting at 10. At least that's what many of us assumed.

When it Windows 10 was unveiled in 2015, Microsoft gave us the impression this operating system would be steadily updated, but that the name Windows 10 would remain.

But Microsoft is still counting and now Windows 11 is just around the corner.

One thing is for sure: Windows 10 users will not be shocked by a completely new design. But they will have a few changes to get used to.

Here are the most important things to know about Windows 11 before it arrives.

What's the new design like?

Microsoft has banished the controversial tiles and the new start menu now opens in the middle because the start button has also moved to the middle of the taskbar.

Rounded corners are particularly noticeable, and everything looks more airy and spaced out. The Explorer file manager has been slimmed down and the settings have been spruced up. You can also expect new sounds, symbols and backgrounds.

And what about new functions?

New features include widgets, i.e. windows with news, weather or other information. The focus mode for undisturbed work without distractions, which can be activated in the Clock app, was not yet available in Windows 10.

Virtual desktops are also being introduced, with which different working environments can be set up, for example for work and leisure, even with one monitor, and even with different backgrounds.

What's all this about Snap Layouts?

Microsoft is adding a new grouping function that is supposed to make it easier to handle lots of windows and programs while making optimal use of the display area.

Suggested layouts appear as soon as you click on the maximise icon at the top right of a window. Once you have decided on a layout and distributed all the windows on the screen accordingly, a snap group is created. And this can be minimised and maximised in its entirety.

Wasn't there also talk of Android apps?

Yes, in fact, you'll be able to search for Android apps in a newly designed Microsoft Store, and then download them using the Amazon App Store and use them on Windows 11. In terms of software integration, Microsoft is planning, among other things, to integrate the Xbox subscription Game Pass and the Teams tools into Windows 11.

Is Windows 11 only available on new computers?

No. If the technical requirements are met and the latest Windows 10 version is installed, you can also install Windows 11, albeit not necessarily right away on Oct 5.

The update will be rolled out gradually. This can take weeks, if not months. Impatient users can also check manually from time to time whether Windows 11 is already available for them under "Settings/Windows Update/Check for updates".

Does Windows 11 cost anything?

Switching from Windows 10 to Windows 11 is free of charge. Only if you're buying a new computer with Windows 11 will you have to pay a certain amount of the purchase price for the licence. And anyone who buys a new computer without an operating system and wants Windows 11 must of course buy a licence.

Will it run older Windows programs?

As a rule, yes. Microsoft says it is sticking to the "central design principle of app compatibility." In other words, anything that ran under Windows 10, 8 or 7 will also run under Windows 11.

Will my computer get Windows 11?

That depends. Microsoft has set minimum technical requirements that a system must meet - otherwise the setup wizard will abort the installation.

Compared to Windows 10, the requirements have increased significantly. In particular, a comparatively new processor is required.

Anyone who wants to install and set up the home version of Windows 11 can only do so when logged in with a Microsoft account. Setting up without an account is officially only possible in the Pro version.

Can I check whether my computer meets the Microsoft criteria before attempting to install it?

Yes, there are test programs for this, and Microsoft's own PC Health Check tool is currently being revised for this purpose. But you can also simply use the freeware WhyNotWin11, which very clearly shows whether and why an update might not be possible.

What if my computer is not ready or I don't want Windows 11?

Then nothing happens at first. Windows 11 will not be installed automatically. And you can continue to use Windows 10 as before.

But at some point, support for Windows 10 will also expire. According to the current timetable this is set to happen in October 2025.

Using Windows 10 beyond this point would become a serious risk because Microsoft will no longer provide security updates - at least not free of charge for private customers.

When will new devices with Windows 11 be available?

New devices with Windows 11 are coming in the next few weeks. Lenovo, for example, has announced the 1.1-kilogram Yoga Slim 7 Carbon 14-inch notebook with OLED display (from 1100 euros) for November. And Asus' Zenbook 14X OLED with 16:10 HDR display (1,300 euros) is also scheduled for release in 2021.

The very first Windows 11 computer you can buy, however, comes from Microsoft itself, of course: The new Surface tablet Go 3 (€440/RM2,129) will be released on October 5 at the same time as Windows 11. The Surface 8 Pro (€1,180/RM5,710) will follow in the same month.

And for early 2022, Microsoft has announced the flexible Surface Laptop Studio with Windows 11: its 14.4-inch touchscreen is attached to a special hinge so that the device can be folded into notebook, presentation and tablet mode. – dpa
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