After months of dropping hints, Microsoft officially announced on Thursday that its new Windows 11 operating system is launching.
“Today marks a major milestone in the history of Windows,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said. “It’s the beginning of a new generation.”
The new OS features design changes like rounded corners, new desktop wallpaper, and a centered Start menu featuring applications and files recently used across a variety of devices. There’s also a separate search interface and Windows Widgets -- a repackaging of the widgets previously introduced in Windows 10. The Widgets feature is AI-powered and offers personalized content like news and weather.
The new operating system will have the Teams app incorporated right into the taskbar, allowing users to call friends, family, or co-workers. Windows 11 will also have “snap layouts” that allow users to quickly snap apps into the different modes that Windows 11 supports.
In a live-streamed presentation, the company’s chief product officer, Panos Panay, described Windows 11 as “the Windows that brings you closer to the things you love.” He said it’ll deliver more performance in browsing the web in Microsoft’s Edge browser, which will enable longer battery life. Additionally, updates will be 40% smaller and less frequent. Panay said there will be one update per year instead of two.
Finally, the Windows icon itself has gotten a cleaner new look. Now it’s a simple square with four equal-sized panes. Overall, the new operating system features a more modern aesthetic.
Panay said “Windows 11-ready” PCs will be available later this year. Until then, computers must meet new hardware requirements in order to run Windows 11.
“Windows 11 Home edition requires an Internet connection and a Microsoft Account to complete device setup on first use,” Microsoft said.