It’s all systems go as Microsoft rolls out Windows 11

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Software giant Microsoft today officially launched Windows 11, its first major operating system revamp since 2015.

The US tech behemoth announced in June that Windows 11 will be available at the end of this year.

“Today marks an exciting milestone in the history of Windows. As the day becomes 5 October in each time zone around the world, availability of Windows 11 begins through a free upgrade on eligible Windows 10 PCs and on new PCs pre-installed with Windows 11 that can be purchased beginning today,” says Panos Panay, Microsoft chief product officer for Windows and devices, in a blog post.

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.

Microsoft notes that throughout September, it saw new Windows 11 devices announced from partners ASUS, HP and Lenovo, and the Surface team.

It notes Acer, Dell, Samsung and other partners will release new Windows 11 devices soon.

“We’re proud to offer Windows 11 on the widest array of choice in devices, form factors and silicon from our valued partners at Acer, AMD, ASUS, Dell, HP, Intel, Lenovo, Qualcomm, Samsung and Surface,” Panay says.

John Cable, vice-president of program management at Windows Servicing and Delivery, says the launch approach to Windows 11 leverages the well-established systems and processes used for the 1.3 billion Windows 10 devices shipped and serviced for over five years.

“We will use a measured and phased process in offering Windows 11, as we have done with Windows 10 feature updates,” Cable says.

“Our objective is to provide you with a smooth upgrade experience. We will begin to offer the upgrade to eligible new devices first. Then, as with previous rollouts, we will study device health data and other signals to determine the pace at which Windows 11 is offered via Windows Update.”

He notes that over time, the software company will make Windows 11 available to existing (in-market) devices based on hardware eligibility, reliability metrics and other factors that impact the upgrade experience.

“If you have a Windows 10 PC that’s eligible for the upgrade, Windows Update will let you know via the Windows Update Settings page when it’s available. We expect all eligible Windows 10 devices to be offered the upgrade to Windows 11 by mid-2022.”

Cable adds that 4 October 2021 also marked the start of the 24-month lifecycle for the Home and Pro editions of Windows 11.

“Our measured and phased approach to the rollout of Windows 11 means we will offer the upgrade via Windows Update when data shows your device is ready, as our objective is to provide a good upgrade experience.

“If we detect that your device may have an issue, such as an application incompatibility, we may put a safeguard hold in place, and not offer the upgrade until that issue is resolved.”

The operating system comes with new features, says Microsoft. It says Chat from Microsoft Teams is a new experience that helps bring users closer to the people they care about.

Another feature is Microsoft Store on Windows, which has been redesigned from the ground up to be easier to build for, and make it more seamless for customers to find and browse apps, games and entertainment all in one place, the firm notes.

The company also added Snap Layouts and Groups to offer “a more powerful way to multitask and optimise your screen real estate in a way that is visually clean”.

Adds Microsoft: “Windows 11 was made for gaming, with innovative new features that can take your PC gaming experience to the next level, like AutoHDR and DirectStorage. It also includes the Xbox app built right in, where you can browse, download and play over 100 high-quality PC games from the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate and PC library.

“Beginning today, organisations can also start moving to Windows 11 on powerful PCs and through the cloud with Windows 365 or Azure.”

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