With the announcement that Microsoft will be rolling out Windows 11 later this year (although it’ll be early 2022 before it’s available as an update for Windows 10), it’s time to have a look at what the user can expect from this new and improved operating system, and the benefits the upgrades offer.
Starting with Start-Up
The first change that users are likely to notice is the new start menu in Windows 11. Rather than being over on the left, the menu appears in the center of the screen. The new menu is cloud-based, and will display recommended apps, documents, and other files to open, that include recently accessed files – the menu will appear the same across all devices as long as users log in with the same Microsoft account details.
No Live Tiles are present on-screen; they’ve been totally replaced with simple, static icons, as seen in Windows 10X.
Updated Email App
The new Windows 11 offers a visually enhanced version of its Mail app, which ties its aesthetic into the rest of the OS design. For the first time, the Mail theme will match the overall color scheme chosen by the user.
Although Mail is the preloaded emailing app on Windows 11, there are other apps available for those looking for increased functionality or more features. For example, the best email app for Windows is often considered to be Spike, which is compatible with the Windows OS. Spike’s email app blends the best bits of text messaging and emailing, resulting in email discussions feeling more like a naturally flowing conversation, as well as offering a group chat feature.
Upgraded Snipping Tool
Windows 11 has redesigned its snipping tool, which will make the taking of screengrabs a much easier process. The upgraded tool merges previously separate ‘snip’ and ‘sketch’ features – as well as incorporating updated visuals, users will now be able to work with and edit the screenshotted visual by cropping or adding annotation, for example.
The new ‘Snipping Tool’ can also be set to dark mode, to match the rest of the Windows 11 featured tools and apps.
Changes to Clock
With this feature previously being one of the more basic elements of the OS, Windows 11 has brought in a major redesign for Clock.
The key new element is the addition of a Focus Sessions feature. Within this, users can set a Focus Timer for a designated task that sends a prompt when it’s time to take a break. By allowing users to integrate their Spotify accounts, too, they can enjoy some motivational music in the background while working through their tasks!
The To-Do app, also a part of Windows, syncs neatly with Focus Sessions: set your task list for the day on the former, and these assignments will be exported over to the latter ready to get started.
Paint Gets a Makeover
The Paint app has been beautifully redesigned, visually, for Windows 11. As well as its new aesthetic, the app also now features a dark mode, as well as the ability to alter text alignment. Paint 3D – always contentious – no longer features at all, with the launch button for this app being totally removed. Apart from the style makeover, all other Paint features remain the same.
The taskbar at the bottom of the screen has also been reconceptualized for Windows 11. It will still live at the bottom of the screen, but it’s been streamlined and simplified, resulting in more space on this panel and speculation over whether Microsoft are planning on adding some additional features here prior to the launch of the new OS. The redesign brings the taskbar into alignment with the rest of the updated Windows 11’s overall design.
Introduction of Widgets
Cortana has disappeared entirely from the Windows 11 taskbar, and in its place is the Widgets icon. Opening this feature brings up a large sidebar that appears from the left of the screen. Presently, News and Interest appears when Widgets is opened although, as with the new taskbar, this is something that Microsoft is likely to develop further before the new OS comes to market later this year, with it likely being host to other features and tools. Widgets is only activated when clicked on.
Windows 8’s introduction of Snap, which allowed users to organize their windows on the screen by moving them to the side or corner, has also been overhauled for Windows 11. Users will now be able to customize both the configuration and orientation of their windows by simply highlighting which configuration option is required. The original inclusion of Windows Snap in the earlier OS was popular, and this reboot of the feature will no doubt also prove to be a success.
A Changed Aesthetic
The main changes to Windows 11 are cosmetic, with the previous infrastructure of Windows 10 being left predominantly unaltered, although the addition of the updated Clock with Focus Time and the newly Designed Snipping Tool are both likely to be very popular with users.
Although the major upgrades to the OS are aesthetic, this doesn’t detract from the positives that these changes bring, and the enhanced user experience they facilitate.