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MS reveals first major Windows upgrade since 2015

Admire Moyo
By Admire Moyo, ITWeb's news editor.
Johannesburg, 25 Jun 2021

Software giant Microsoft has unveiled Windows 11, its first major operating system revamp since 2015.

The company says Windows 11 includes new features and will be available at the end of this year.

According to Microsoft, over 1.3 billion devices make use of Windows, and the new release comes almost six years after the introduction of Windows 10, which is the world’s most widely used PC operating system.

“With Windows 11, we have a renewed sense of Windows’ role in the world,” says Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.

“Today, the world needs a more open platform, one that allows apps to become a platform in their own right. Windows is a platform where things that are bigger than Windows can be born, like the Web.”

One of the biggest feature changes is the Start button, which Microsoft has now placed in the centre of the screen.

“We put Start at the centre and made it easier to quickly find what you need,” says Panos Panay, Microsoft chief product officer for Windows and devices.

He notes the new Start utilises cloud computing and Microsoft 365 to show users recent files on any device they were viewing them on earlier, even if it was on an Android or iOS device.

Windows 11 also comes with new Windows Store that allows software developers to use their own in-app payment systems and pay no commission to Microsoft.

According to Reuters, the moves stand in contrast to Apple's “walled garden” approach, in which the iPhone maker only lets users download software from the App Store and imposes controls on software developers, including a requirement to use Apple’s in-app payment systems and pay commissions of up to 30%.

Using technology from Amazon and Intel, the new Windows operating system will let users find and run Android mobile applications on their laptops and PCs.

Microsoft says it will soon add first- and third-party apps like Microsoft Teams, Visual Studio, Disney+, Adobe Creative Cloud, Zoom and Canva to the Microsoft Store.

Windows 11 also comes with Snap Layouts, Snap Groups and Desktops, to provide a way to multi-task.

According to Microsoft, these new features will help users organise their windows and optimise their screen real estate.

The company also notes that Chat from Microsoft Teams is now integrated in the taskbar.

“Now you can instantly connect through text, chat, voice or video with all of your personal contacts across Windows, Android or iOS,” Panay says.

“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.”

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