Windows 11 is the next evolution of Windows; it is the most significant update to the Windows operating system since Windows 10. It offers many innovations focused on enhancing end-user productivity in a fresh experience that is flexible and fluid. Windows 11 is designed to support today’s hybrid work environment, and intended to be the most reliable, secure, connected, and performant Windows operating system ever.
Windows 11 is built on the same foundation as Windows 10, so the investments you have made in tools for update and device management are carried forward. Windows 11 also sustains the application compatibility promise made with Windows 10, supplemented by programs like App Assure. For Microsoft 365 customers seeking further assistance, FastTrack will continue to be available to support your efforts to adopt Windows 11.
Windows 11 will be delivered as an upgrade to eligible devices running Windows 10, beginning later in the 2021 calendar year. Windows 11 will also be available on eligible new devices.
For administrators managing devices on behalf of their organization, Windows 11 will be available through the same, familiar channels that you use today for Windows 10 feature updates. You will be able to use existing deployment and management tools, such as Windows Update for Business, Microsoft Endpoint Manager, and Windows Autopilot. For more information, see Plan for Windows 11.
For devices that are not managed by an organization, the Windows 11 upgrade will be offered to eligible Windows 10 devices through Windows Update using Microsoft’s intelligent rollout process to ensure a smooth upgrade experience.
For more information about device eligibility, see Windows 11 requirements.
If you are interested in testing Windows 11 before general availability, you can join the Windows Insider Program or Windows Insider Program for Business. You can also preview Windows 11 by enabling pre-release Windows 10 feature updates in Microsoft Endpoint Configuration Manager or Windows Server Update Services
There are no unique licensing requirements for Windows 11 beyond what is required for Windows 10 devices.
Microsoft 365 licenses that include Windows 10 licenses will permit you to run Windows 11 on supported devices. If you have a volume license, it will equally cover Windows 11 and Windows 10 devices before and after upgrade.
Most accessories and associated drivers that work with Windows 10 are expected to work with Windows 11. Check with your accessory manufacturer for specific details.
Windows 11 preserves the application compatibility promise made with Windows 10, and does not require changes to existing support processes or tooling to sustain the currency of applications and devices. Microsoft 365 customers can continue to use programs such as App Assure and FastTrack to support IT efforts to adopt and maintain Windows 11. For more information, see Application compatibility.
Windows 11 is built on the same foundation as Windows 10. Typically, you can use the same tools and solutions you use today to deploy, manage, and secure Windows 11. Your current management tools and processes will also work to manage monthly quality updates for both Windows 10 and Windows 11.
Check with the providers of any non-Microsoft security and management solutions that you use to ensure compatibility with Windows 11, particularly those providing security or data loss prevention capabilities.
Like Windows 10, Windows 11 will receive monthly quality updates. However, it will have a new feature update cadence. Windows 11 feature updates will be released once per year.
When Windows 11 reaches general availability, important servicing-related announcements and information about known issues and safeguard holds can be found on the Windows release health hub. Monthly release notes will also be available from a consolidated Windows 11 update history page at that time. For more information, see Servicing and support.
To install or upgrade to Windows 11, devices must meet the following minimum hardware requirements:
For the best Windows 11 upgrade experience, eligible devices should be running Windows 10, version 20H1 or later.
S mode is only supported on the Home edition of Windows 11. If you are running a different edition of Windows in S mode, you will need to first switch out of S mode prior to upgrading.
Switching a device out of Windows 10 in S mode also requires internet connectivity. If you switch out of S mode, you cannot switch back to S mode later.
What it is: Android apps will be built into Windows 11 natively through the new Microsoft Store — a change Windows users have been waiting on for years. Though you could access Android apps on your Windows 10 PC in certain cases (like if you have a Samsung Galaxy phone), Windows 11 marks the first time everyone will be able to download them directly onto your PC. (Here’s everything to know about Android apps on Windows 11.)
How you’ll use it: Android apps will be in the new Microsoft Store via Amazon’s Appstore. That means you’ll need to download the Amazon Appstore to access the nearly 500,000 apps available there, including Disney Plus, TikTok, Netflix, Pinterest, Uber and more. However, you won’t be able to access every Android app found in the Google Play Store.
To get started, you’ll need to download the Amazon Appstore and sign into or create an Amazon account. Then you’ll be able to search for free or paid apps as you would on any other platform. Android apps will be integrated into the Start bar and will also appear on the Taskbar with their own windows.
What it is: Windows 11 will add Widgets to the interface — an AI-powered customizable feed that slides out to show you info such as news, weather, a glimpse at your calendar and to-do list and your recent photos. Widgets are similar to a feature called news and interests found in a recent Windows 10 update.
How you’ll use it: On the newly redesigned taskbar, you’ll find a button for Widgets. When you click or tap it, a panel will slide out from the left side of your screen with a series of widgets that give you the at-a-glance information you’re looking for. You can also expand it to be full screen.
What it is: Windows 11 will build Microsoft’s video chat platform Teams directly into the operating system, making it easier to access for daily use. You can connect with others on Teams across Windows, Android, Mac or iOS.
How you’ll use it: Teams will now appear in the taskbar. Click the Teams icon to launch a Chat tool, letting you choose if you want to message, text, voice or video call one of your contacts. Click Meet or Chat, and choose who you want to contact. Or, open the full version of Microsoft teams by clicking the box at the bottom of the Chat screen.
What it is: Windows 11 will let you more easily create separate virtual desktops for each part of your life, and customize them with different wallpapers, so you can create a desktop for personal use, work, school, gaming or anything else, and easily toggle between them. This is similar to the MacOS virtual desktop feature.
How you’ll use it: We don’t have as much information on how to set up the new desktops yet, but from Microsoft’s demo, it looks like once you do, you’ll be able to scroll to the bottom of your screen and see a window slide up with the different desktops you’ve created, letting you switch back and forth between them with one click.
What it is: When you’re working in a bunch of open windows, Windows 11 will let you arrange them in different layouts on the screen, and will save all of those windows in that arrangement.
How you’ll use it: When you open a window, you’ll see a button that looks like a square in the top right corner, in between the X and the minimize button. Click that to see different layout options for that window, and select the layout and the position within the layout that you want to place that window.
What it is: Snap Groups are the set of open windows that you saved in Snap Layouts, found in the taskbar for easy access to call up once again, so you can minimize or maximize them as a group.
How you’ll use it: Hover over your browser in the taskbar (it’s unclear if you need to be using Microsoft Edge to do so, as Microsoft did in its demo). You’ll see the different groups of sites and apps you created pop up. Click the one you want to open the whole group again.
When will it be available to download?
Windows 11 will be available as a free download for existing Windows users during the 2021 holiday season.