Windows 11 makes PC experience more personal

by Jeremy

After weeks of dealing with its upcoming operating system leaks, Microsoft officially announced Windows 11 at an online event this morning. The upgrade will start being available for eligible Windows 10 PCs late this year. With Windows 11, Microsoft set out to create a more personalized user experience with new ways to be productive and connect with people.

Windows 11

“These last 18 months have shown us quite a bit, and the PC has played a role in helping each of us, whether it’s work or learning or connecting,” Panos Panay, chief product officer for Windows + Devices at Microsoft, said during the event. “You might be doing emails; you might be having meetings; you might be having classes on your PC. For some, it’s become the office banter place; for others, it’s become where you do your happy hours. For me, it’s where I’ve done pizza parties with my team, my daughter graduated, and for many, it’s where they celebrated their holidays. During that time, we learned something, not just how functional and practical the PC needs to be — and believe me, we understand that and know the responsibility more than we have before — but it also must be personal. Maybe most importantly, it must feel emotional.”

Start menu and Widgets.

Visually, it has redesigned the Start menu, added updated transitions, updated the Settings design, and added new themes. The Start menu now appears in the center of the screen and is more personalized, suggesting what to open based on a user’s commonly used apps or recent files. 

Windows 11 will also add Widgets, a personalized, AI-powered feed. “Today, we often pick up our phones to check the news, weather, or notifications. Now, you can open a similarly curated view directly from your desktop. When you open your personalized feed, it slides across your screen like a sheet of glass, so it doesn’t disrupt what you’re doing,” Panay wrote in a blog post

Deeper integration with Microsoft Teams

Windows 11 will also come with Microsoft Teams preinstalled and pinned to the taskbar. Users will treat it more like Apple’s Facetime and start video calls from their desktops. 

“Now you can instantly connect through text, chat, voice, or video with all of your contacts, anywhere, regardless of their platform or device, across Windows, Android, or iOS. If the person you’re connecting to on the other end hasn’t downloaded the Teams app, you can still connect with them via two-way SMS,” Panay wrote.  

Microsoft Store changes for app developers.

It also redesigned the Microsoft Store and added support for Android apps through an upcoming partnership with the Amazon Appstore and Intel Bridge.  

It also makes it easier for developers to bring their apps to the Microsoft Store. Developers can now get apps, whether they’re built as a Win32, Progressive Web App (PWA), Universal Windows App (UWP), or another app framework. 

Microsoft has also changed its revenue share policy so developers can bring their commerce system into their apps and keep 100% of the revenue, whereas previously, they only held 85%.

Productivity enhancements

Windows 11 introduces several productivity enhancements, such as new ways to group windows. Currently dragging, or “snapping,” a window to either edge of the screen makes it take up half of the screen, and the other half opens a menu to pick what window to fill the other half of the screen with. In Windows 11, there will be more layout options, with new variations for having either three or four windows displayed. 

Snap Groups will remember which apps are grouped and pin them to the taskbar. 

Also, when a user disconnects their laptop from their monitor, it will automatically minimize the open windows. When they reconnect, it remembers their previous layout when they were connected to the monitor. “With Snap Groups and the new docking experience, it’s easier than to get back to being your most productive,” said Carmen Zlateff, partner director of Windows User Experience, during the event. 

Users will also be able to create separate desktops that display a different set of windows and applications. For example, users could put all their work windows on one desktop and personal windows on another. Each desktop can also have its wallpaper. “Desktops are an easy way to help you stay organized and focused. They’re different expressions of you designed for the different parts of your life,” said Zlateff.

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