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Windows 11 is the next major version of Windows NT and will be the successor to Windows 10, which was initially released in 2015. Microsoft formally announced its release in June 2021, although rumors regarding Windows 11 had been building for months before that. Microsoft expects to release Windows 11 in late 2021 as a free upgrade through Windows Update for supported Windows 10 devices.
Microsoft employee Jerry Nixon stated in 2015 that Windows 10 would be the last version of Windows, a statement that Microsoft officially confirmed. At that time, Microsoft viewed its operating system as a service for which it would release updates over time. However, a job listing that Microsoft posted in January 2021 referred to a “sweeping rejuvenation” of Windows. A Microsoft project codenamed “Sun Valley” was reportedly intended to modernize the Windows user interface (UI), further fueling rumors of a major release for this operating system.
Microsoft CEO and chairman Satya Nadella informally discussed the next release of Windows during his keynote speech at the Microsoft Build 2021 developer conference in May, adding that he had already been using it for several months. A week later, Microsoft began inviting journalists to a Windows media event and posted an 11-minute YouTube video about Windows, prompting speculation that Windows 11 would be the topic.
Microsoft officially announced the release of Windows 11 on June 24, 2021. Chief Product Officer (CPO) Panos Panay described Windows 11 as a reimagining of Windows, and Microsoft provided technical details on Windows 11 at a separate event the same day. These include a new Windows App SDK codenamed Project Reunion, Microsoft Store updates and new guidelines for Fluent Design.
Windows 11’s system requirements are generally similar to those of Windows 10, although there are some significant differences. For example, Windows 11 won’t support 32-bit architecture such as IA-32 processors. The minimum requirements for RAM and storage have also increased to 4 GB and 64 GB respectively. Windows 11 supports Cannon Lake, Coffee Lake and Whiskey Lake and later versions of 8th generation Intel processors. It also supports AMD Zen+ and later processors except Ryzen 1st generation AF revision. In addition, Windows 11 supports Qualcomm Snapdragon 850 and later processors.
Windows 11 requires a Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) with a TPM 2.0 coprocessor, as it doesn’t support legacy BIOS. Motherboards that don’t natively support TPM can still run Windows 11 if they have a built-in TPM module at the firmware or hardware level. This capability may be disabled by default, requiring the user to enable TPM in the computer’s UEFI.
The most obvious change in Windows 11 is the UI, which focus on greater flexibility and ease-of-use. Additional changes in Windows 11 include new features for accessibility, productivity, security and social media. Windows 11 also addresses some deficiencies in Windows 10.
The Microsoft Store is an existing feature from Windows 10 that allows users to buy apps and other products from a single location. Developers can only distribute the Microsoft Store through Universal Windows Platform (UWP). However, Windows 11 also allows developers to distribute The Microsoft Store through a variety of technologies, including web applications and Win32.
Furthermore, Windows 11 users can obtain Android apps from the Microsoft Store through the Amazon Appstore. This process requires an Amazon account, a Microsoft account and a one-time installation for the Windows Amazon App Store client. Users can also install Android apps through other sources.
Additional features that are new in Windows 11 include the integration of Microsoft Teams into the UI, which is now accessible from the taskbar. Auto HDR and DirectStorage are also integrated into Windows 11, although DirectStorage still requires a graphics card that supports DirectX 12 Ultimate and an NVMe solid-state drive (SSD) with a capacity of at least 1 TB.
Microsoft flickr photo by bfishadow shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license