Microsoft gives first glimpse at next operating system

The big focus is a simplification of the Windows 11 user interface, a new Windows store, and improvements to performance

Photo: Microsoft/ The Verge Windows 11 will also include support for running Android apps for the first time.

Despite the endless fan frenzy surrounding Apple products and Google's attempts to deliver an alternative operating system, the vast majority of laptops and desktop computers still run on Windows. Now, after six years of Windows 10, Microsoft is presenting a new generation of its OS. Windows 11 looks more modern and is trying its hardest to pick up on the digital trends during the pandemic.

One of the innovations in Windows 11 is that Microsoft's Teams software for video conferencing and office collaboration will be directly integrated. Also built in via a new Xbox app is the company's own Games Pass gaming subscription - both logical additions given the surge of video conferencing and gaming during the pandemic.

In addition to Windows programs, people will also be able to use apps for Google's Android mobile OS on their computers, the company announced on Thursday. They will come onto the platform via Amazon's Android store and will be made to run with the help of technology from the chip company Intel.

Windows 11 has also redesigned various controls - including the Start button and associated menus, which are now in the middle of the taskbar instead of on the edge. This UI is very similar to what we first saw in Windows 10X, a project originally planned for dual-screen devices that Microsoft eventually canceled. 

By far the majority of laptops and desktop computers around the world run Windows, although Apple has been making gains with its Mac computers of late. Windows 10, introduced in mid-2015, has now largely displaced older versions and runs on around 80 per cent of Windows computers, according to market researchers.

Windows chief Panos Panay says “the team has obsessed over every detail,” with Windows 11 also including updated dark and light modes that look a lot better than what we’ve seen in Windows today.

Industry analyst J.P. Gownder of Forrester Research pointed out that the new Windows is arriving in an era of hybrid working from the office and home. The new operation gives the software a chance to stand out, he said.

At the same time, he welcomed the fact that the basic software code still originates from Windows 10 - this reduces the risk that previous programs and device drivers will no longer work, as was once the case with Windows Vista.

Unlike Apple, Microsoft is sticking to its policy of allowing Windows devices to be operated with both keyboards and touchscreens. The iPhone company, on the other hand, consistently refrains from allowing control via screen on its Mac computers.

App developers can integrate their own payment methods on the Windows platform, and Microsoft will not charge a fee for this, the company emphasised. A concrete release date for Windows 11 was not given, but it's expected to arrive in the third quarter of 2021, together with new devices from PC manufacturers on which the operating system is already pre-installed.

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