Windows 11 unmasked with unrecognisable new Start Menu, faster performance, and more

Microsoft has revealed its next major operating system, Windows 11, during an event at its headquarters in Redmond. The latest iteration of the desktop operating system is a dramatic redesign – no stone has been left unturned in the operating system, which has been completely reworked for this latest upgrade.

Windows 10, which was available as a free upgrade at launch, has been a huge success for Microsoft, with more than 1.3 billion devices now running the operating system worldwide. At the time, Microsoft said Windows 10 would be the “last version” of Windows. New features and design tweaks would be delivered over time with regular updates, as Microsoft transitioned to “Windows as a service”.

As such, it’s pretty astonishing that Microsoft is pushing ahead with the launch of an all-new version of Windows at all.

There’s certainly no confusing Windows 11 with its predecessor. This represents a pretty radical design for the operating system. During the event, design chief Panos Panay branded it “the beginning of the next generation of Windows.”

Gone are the sharp angular corners found across Windows 10, replaced with rounded windows. Transparency has been added across the software, with some menus still showing the windows stacked behind – like looking through a pane of translucent glass. Microsoft has redesigned every application icon across the operating system – yes, including the obscure ones hidden away in the Control Panel (something that the design team never got to when building Windows 10).

But it’s not just a face-lift, Microsoft design chief Panos Panay confirmed during the event. Day to day performance should be much faster. Likewise, Windows Hello – which uses facial recognition to login with a glance – is also faster than the same machine running Windows 10.

Windows Updates have been slimmed down by as much as 40 percent, which means downloads should be much faster. Not only that, but those with devices with 4G and 5G mobile internet connections can keep their gadget updated while they’re out on the road. Updates are installed quietly in the background too.

Microsoft has a number of layouts to present multiple windowed applications on-screen at the same time. While Windows 10 let you snap two applications side-by-side, Windows 11 takes things a step further. Microsoft will a number of options based on the size of your screen, so those with more real estate will get more choice.

Dubbed Snap Layouts, these configurations are stored in memory. So you can jump into Outlook to reply to an email, and then return to three or four applications configured in the same grid layout. Likewise, if you have everything set-up on an external monitor, unplug your laptop and then plug it back into the same screen, everything will return in its place. That’s handy for those who are working between an office and home.

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