What’s New in Windows 11?

This blog post is written for CIO’s and CTO’s curious about Microsoft’s new OS- Windows 11. 

Caroline Mayou

Caroline Mayou

Introduction

Whether you’re a CIO, an IT Administrator, or just a curious Windows user, keeping an eye on the technology horizon is always a good idea. With Windows 7 officially out of Microsoft support, and support for 8.1 ending in January 2023, if you’re reading this on your work PC, chances are it’s on Windows 10. In fact, according to Statista, 71% of Windows-using businesses have already transitioned to Windows 10.

While support for Win10 is expected to run through Oct 2025, starting to plan your organization’s upgrade early is key to ensuring a smooth transition and minimize business disruption. Additionally, given the number of security and productivity enhancements included in this upgrade, your organization may want to move early to leverage these new features. In this article we’ll provide an overview of what’s changing, both on the back-end and in the user experience.

What's Changing With Windows 11?

System Requirements

First and foremost, minimum system requirements have been raised fairly substantially. While most devices built within the last ~2 years should be at or near these specifications, it’s important to compare the actual devices deployed in your organization to the table below.

Component

Windows 11

Windows 10

Processor

1GHz or faster with 2+ cores on a 64-bit processor/SoC

1GHz or faster processor/SoC

RAM

4GB

1GB for 32-bit / 2GB for 64-bit

Storage

64GB or more

16GB for 32-bit / 20GB for 64-bit

System firmware

UEFI, Secure Boot capable

N/A

TPM

Trusted Platform Module (TPM) version 2.0

N/A

Graphics card

DirectX 12 or later with WDDM 2.0 driver

DirectX 9 or later with WDDM 1.0 driver

Display

720p display that is greater than 9-inch diagonally, 8 bits per color channel

800 x 600 display

Internet access required?

Yes

No

Device Management

Fortunately, Windows 11 comes ready to work with all the latest and greatest Microsoft infrastructure management tools your organization may already be using such as Intune, Endpoint Manager, Autopilot, and more! Additionally, Microsoft is advising that according to their research, as a result of their efforts invested in ensuring a simple upgrade process, 99% of applications that work on Windows 10 today will also work on Windows 11. As many large organizations know, application remediation can be among the most time-consuming infrastructure readiness tasks, so minimizing the likelihood it will be needed is most welcome news.

Security

In a similar vein to device management, Windows 11 will be compatible with virtually any security tools that you may be using with Windows 10 today. Furthermore, Windows 11 has been built with zero-trust principles at its core, safeguarding data and access anywhere, keeping your organization protected and productive. In fact, with features such as firmware-layer protection, presence sensing, and Defender SmartScreen, Microsoft is advertising that this is the most secure Windows yet!

User Interface

Task Bar

As is usually the case with an OS release from Microsoft, several aspects of the user interface have been substantially changed. Probably the most immediate (and potentially controversial) change you’ll notice, is the reorganization of the Taskbar. As you can see below, all icons (including the Start button itself) are now centered at the bottom of the screen.

Windows11TaskBar
Windows 11 Task Bar

Live Tiles -> Widgets

One of the next most significant UI changes is the retirement of the classic Live Tiles, and the inclusion of Widgets. Per Microsoft, Widgets are small cards that display dynamic content from your favorite apps and services on your Windows desktop. They appear on the widgets board, where you can discover, pin, unpin, arrange, resize, and customize widgets to reflect your interests.

Live Tiles and Widgets in Windows 11
Live Tiles and Widgets in Windows 11

Multitasking Improvements

Microsoft has also released some handy features to improve your experience and maximize your productivity:

 

  • Snap Assist: Organize what’s on your screen in a snap so you can bring out your best ideas. Just drag a window to the edge of the screen to activate Snap assist and “snap” them into a clean, organized grid
  • Desktop Groups: Keep your digital life organized with desktop groups for all the different ways you work and play. Custom backgrounds and labels help you build a dedicated desktop space for each area of your life.
  • Focus: Focus is a new feature in Windows 11 that helps you minimize distractions for a set period of time. When you’re in a focus session, the following will happen:
    • A focus timer will appear on your screen
    • Do not disturb will turn on (preventing notifications)
    • Apps in the taskbar won’t flash to alert you
    • Badge notifications on apps in the taskbar will turn off

Touchscreen Improvements

As more and more touch-enabled devices are entering the market, Microsoft has developed a number of improvements to make your Windows experience more touch-friendly. In particular, the most recent update to Windows 11 deployed five new touch features:

 

  • Swipe up from the middle of the Taskbar to open the Start menu, and swipe down to close it
  • Within the start menu, you can swipe right to left from “Pinned” to get to “All apps” and left to right to get back to “Pinned”
  • Swipe up from the bottom right of the Taskbar (System Tray) to open “Quick Settings” to control your device
  • While you can still swipe in from the right side of the screen to open the Notification Center, Microsoft updated the animation so that it’s more responsive and follows your finger
  • In full-screen touch-enabled apps and games, a “gripper” has been added that appears if you swipe in from the edges of the screen

Microsoft Teams in Windows 11

One substantial change Microsoft has implemented starting in Windows 11 is that Microsoft Teams will now be installed by default. However, this is only the client-side software. Your organization will need to execute some backend configuration for Teams before using it broadly. If you’d like to explore enabling Teams for your organization, click below to read more about our technology workshops today!

Interested in Microsoft 365 Support?

Avantiico provides Live Services support for Microsoft 365 and Microsoft's Modern Workplace.

Closing

Knowing when to implement a change as significant as an operating system upgrade can be a real challenge. There are a multitude of factors to consider such as business priorities, resource capacity, device life cycles, 3rd party integrations, etc. But two things remain certain; firstly is that through selling points such as the 99% application compatibility, it’s evident that Microsoft has invested significant effort in making the upgrade process as painless as possible. And secondly, experience has shown that taking a proactive, thoughtful approach to analyzing your organization and planning for an upgrade leads to lower implementation costs and superior migration experiences, compared to waiting until the last possible moment.

If you’re interested in learning more about what Windows 11 can do for your organization, click below to set up a free consultation today!

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