Upgrade Time: Microsoft Releases Windows 11

Windows 11 is avalible

Last Updated on October 7, 2021

Starting on October 5th, in addition to selling PCs pre-installed with Windows 11, a free upgrade from Windows 10 is finally available.

Microsoft is giving special attention to the initial rollout; that's why the upgrade is being introduced in phases, focusing on thoroughly tested hardware and software configurations.

Updates are available for systems that have been thoroughly tested by Microsoft starting now, but Windows 11 will not be on other PCs for weeks or even months. In line with previous practice, Windows 10 will notify users when an update is available.

Microsoft's caution is understandable, given the history of update issues with several major Windows 10 updates. Still, there is no rush to upgrade your system now; it's best to wait for the developers to fix any teething problems and all the new features available.

Shiny New User Interface

One of the most striking changes in the new Windows 11 is the user interface, which has improved in several ways. Part of the redesign is a centered dock reminiscent of macOS and Chrome OS. This is good news for owners of ultra-wide monitors and 2-in-1 laptop users.

Tablet and 2-in-1 enthusiasts will be most pleased with the new compact floating keyboard, allowing comfortable, one-handed (or even fingertip) typing while holding the machine.

In Windows 11, the graphical interface of the menu has a more straightforward, more transparent look. The live tiles have disappeared, and the menu corners have a round edge. However, you can still lock various applications, see the most recently opened (recommended) documents, and quickly restart or shut down the system.

Centered Start Menu

At the top of the new Windows 11 Start Menu is a search bar that can pull up results from OneDrive and the web, in addition to local files. One exciting new feature is Snap Groups, which allows users to save the layout of multiple applications and save them to the taskbar.

Thanks to this, you can return to your custom interface much faster after a restart. Also, Microsoft has completely redesigned the dark and light themes for a more intuitive and minimalistic user interface, which the company says will be a step forward for everyone.

New Microsoft Store

Next to the redesigned user interface, the fundamentally rethought Microsoft Store is the other significant improvement in Windows 11. Based on user feedback, Microsoft has taken its app store in a new direction. The company has introduced a new app store that is built from the ground up. In addition, developers can now use their own payment system, which means that Microsoft will not charge a commission for paid apps. As a result, Microsoft expects the new store to be much more attractive to developers; for example, the store already includes the popular Adobe Creative Cloud app.

One of the most exciting features is that Windows 11 will also run Android apps, increasing the number of apps you can run on the new system by hundreds or thousands.

Performance Improvements

One major change under the hood is that the new kernel now handles app priority with modern CPUs in mind. Thus, with Windows 11, applications running in the foreground will have a higher priority than before. This can be useful if you have an application running in the background that puts a lot of CPU load on your computer and you want to start another application.

A similar approach is present on the Edge browser, where the currently active tab has high priority. Meanwhile, the other tabs that are not in use are put to sleep, saving processor and memory, and thus battery life on notebooks. With the Sleeping Tabs feature, Edge will be able to save up to 30% of memory.

Faster Windows Updates

Windows Updates have also enjoyed better optimizations, at up to 40% lower bandwidth, with an average 40% reduction in package size. As a result, in addition to better utilization of various critical resources, system wake-up time is about 25% faster.

Along with this, the speed of biometric authentication has improved, with Windows Hello promising 30% faster sign-in. Microsoft has also made improvements to the system's space requirements.

Strict System Requirements.

Microsoft has set rigorous hardware requirements for its new system. Starting with an 8th generation or newer Intel processor (some 7th generation) and a second-generation or newer AMD Ryzen is necessary for installation, along with TPM v2.0.

The latest version of the “Trusted Platform Module” is an essential requirement for Windows 11. Windows have supported TPM for a decade – it's a hardware component responsible for encryption key storage and other security functions. It is relied on by Device Encryption, Windows Defender System Guard, BitLocker, and Others.

Installation Notes

Before upgrading or installing, TPM must be enabled in the BIOS, just like Secure Boot, which is mandatory and creates the possibility of a locked bootloader. With the security feature enabled, UEFI only gives control to the bootloader (boot loader software) with a trusted signature so that no other malicious applications can get between the operating system and UEFI.

One aspect of Windows 11 that sets it apart from its predecessors includes the more strict routines. This is because it's been designed around the needs of a zero-trust working environment, which correlates with the mandatory elements, and has dramatically improved security and reliability.

What about unsupported hardware?

If your PC doesn't meet the above requirements, the only way to bypass it is to find a somewhat risky workaround. Youtube has several methods to upgrade without TPM or an officially supported CPU. However, the Windows 11 installed on unsupported configurations may have drawbacks later. According to previous reports, this will put the PC in the so-called “unsupported” category, which may not receive access to Windows Update, including various security updates.

The easiest way to check if your PC meets the required specifications is to use the Windows 11 compatibility checker (accessible from the Windows 11 page).

Microsoft says that owners of unsupported configurations should stick with Windows 10 since it will continue to receive updates for another four years.

What about you? Are you ready to take the plunge and be an early adopter? Let us know in the comments below. Until next time, cheers.

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