Microsoft officially announced Windows 11. But when will Windows 11 launch, and how much Windows 11 will cost?
Microsoft has officially unveiled its new operating system, Windows 11. The next version of Microsoft’s flagship operating system was finally revealed at Microsoft’s “What’s next for Windows” event, which the company has been teasing for weeks.
Now, the moment has finally arrived, and we know what Windows 11 is, how much Windows 11 will cost, and most importantly, when Windows 11 will launch.
What Is Windows 11?
Windows 11 is the latest version of Microsoft’s operating system, taking over from Windows 10. Even though Microsoft made a song and a dance about Windows 10 being the last version of Windows ever and that everything after this would just be versions of Windows 10 with major updates, here we are: Windows 11.
Microsoft has been teasing a major reveal for weeks, with tweets, videos, and other social media posts referencing the number 11.
Microsoft is focusing on performance with Windows 11, especially in key areas. For example, one of the most interesting things that came out of the “What’s next for Windows” event was that in Windows 11, Windows Updates are around 40 percent smaller than in Windows 10—that’s a big change.
Furthermore, those updates will now take place predominantly in the background while the user works, consuming fewer resources and, in turn, making sure that each Windows Update doesn’t require a period of downtime.
Although Windows Update has become much better towards the end of Windows 10 lifespan, it still catches everyone out from time to time.
Windows 11 Integrates Microsoft Teams
In a move that is sure to frustrate many people, Windows 11 is set to integrate Microsoft Teams directly into the operating system, likely sounding the death knell for Skype. You’ll find complete integration into the taskbar, allowing you to start new video calls or chats from a pop-up, with more functionality expected to arrive in the future.
Expect this to become another feature that non-Microsoft Teams users will want to disable instantly. However, better integration and faster access for Teams users are welcome. Shaving seconds and minutes from your time spent clicking through menus is never a bad thing.
Windows 11 Snap Groups
Windows Snap Groups is a new feature that you can use to group apps for easy access. Group a bunch of apps that you use simultaneously into a single group. Then, each time you want to use them, each app will reopen in the same configuration, in the same screen location as it was previously.
For many, this is a small feature. But the value of this feature can be seen in the number of third-party apps that have popped up to handle this. Now, with the feature integrated into Windows 11, it should make returning to your existing activity much faster.
Windows 11 News & Interests Widgets
The Windows 11 News & Interests widgets bar was one of the first new features revealed to Windows users, arriving on the Windows 10 taskbar in the June 2021 update. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been well received, with many Windows 10 users opting to switch the News & Interests feature off instantly.
However, News & Interests looks much better on Windows 11 than Windows 10. It is obviously an app designed for the new operating system style but lumped into Windows 10 early for some user testing.
Still, Microsoft has made it clear that you can use the widget for more than just News & Interests. For example, connecting with and paying your favorite content creators direct from your desktop. The widgets currently include maps, news, weather, stocks, and so on (and feel driven by Live Tiles), but expect more widgets to arrive in time.
Windows 11 Receives a Shiny New Microsoft Store Update
The Microsoft Store is another area of the operating system receiving a visual overhaul. The Store is modernized drastically, with curved, sliding menus that make it look like an app store you might want to interact with.
Microsoft confirmed that to bring more apps that you actually want to the Microsoft Store, programmers and developers will be able to use their own “commerce engines,” meaning Microsoft won’t take a cut of profits if you launch on the Store. This is likely a nod to Apple, who is still in the midst of an ongoing trial regarding their 30 percent flat fee for app transactions on the App Store.
Android Apps Coming to Windows 11
Microsoft also revealed that Android apps will become available within Windows 11, direct through the new Microsoft Store. The move will enable Windows 11 users to install and access their Android apps, such as TikTok or Instagram, directly within the operating system rather than as a browser tab.
The Android apps will come to Windows 11 via Amazon’s app store, but the Android apps will run natively on the operating system. As with other apps, you’ll be able to pin them to the taskbar and snap them alongside other windows.
When Will Windows 11 Launch?
Windows 11 will not be launching straight away, however. Instead, Microsoft will now take Windows 11 through several test builds, using its Insider Preview users to figure out what works and what doesn’t. As of next week, certain Insider Preview users will begin to receive the early builds of Windows 11, potentially matching up to the leaked Windows 11 build that circulated before the big event.
The big question remains, though: will the proposed Windows 10 21H2 update now become the official launch of Windows 11? Or, will some users upgrade to Windows 11 at that point, while those who don’t have the correct system specifications remain on Windows 10?
Whichever way it works, expect to see Microsoft (hopefully!) learning from the mistakes of the Windows 10 launch, which saw many users having to return to their previous Windows version as it was clear that important drivers and other apps weren’t ready to migrate.
Given Windows 11 is still using much of the same code base as Windows 10, this shouldn’t nearly as much of an issue.
What Are Windows 11 Minimum Specs?
Interestingly, the minimum specs for Windows 11 at launch seem quite varied, but with one or two requirements that might catch users out.
- 64-bit processor
- 1GHz dual-core CPU
- 64GB storage
- 4GB RAM
- UEFI, Secure Boot, and TPM 2.0
- DirectX 12 compatible graphics/WDDM 2.x
The notable upgrades from Windows 10 to Windows 11 are the requirement for a 64-bit processor, at least 4GB RAM (up from 2GB), and the upgrade to TPM 2.0 (up from TPM 1.2).
According to Microsoft’s documentation, “Since July 28, 2016, all new device models, lines or series (or if you are updating the hardware configuration of an existing model, line or series with a major update, such as CPU, graphic cards) must implement and enable by default TPM 2.0.”
However, as this was not a requirement before that time, many users may be left behind on Windows 10, at least for the time being.
How Much Will Windows 11 Cost?
Although Microsoft didn’t reveal the price of Windows 11 at its event, eagle-eyed users noted that Microsoft’s PC Health Check app was updated with an important clue:
According to the PC Health Check app, if your PC meets the system requirements, you can “get the free upgrade when it’s available.” Unfortunately for me, that means my now 8-year-old PC build is antiquated and might not be able to receive the free Windows 11 upgrade, at least not the early waves.
Windows 11 Arrives—Almost
It won’t be long until the first official Insider Preview builds of Windows 10 begin filtering through to users, and we get a more in-depth look and feel of the new Windows operating system. The leaked Windows 11 build was clearly a work in progress, lacking some of the polish Windows 11 is set to deliver, with its centralized taskbar, opaque windows, and curved edges.
“It’s the beginning of a new generation,” says Microsoft President and CEO, Satya Nadella. The current leader of Microsoft finished up the event with this statement, touting the enormous influence of the operating system and the company itself over the years.
He also exclaims that “Windows isn’t just an operating system. It is a platform for platforms.” The idea of Windows 11, then, is to continue to empower anyone and everyone to build upon Microsoft’s foundations.
For now, it’s back to the waiting game.