Microsoft makes Windows 11 official, and it's coming this fall

W11 Start Searchbar
W11 Start Searchbar (Image credit: Microsoft)

Windows 11 Screenshot Ms

Source: Microsoft (Image credit: Source: Microsoft)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft has announced Windows 11, officially!
  • It has a new UI, new features, and new sounds.
  • It's coming this fall as a free upgrade for Windows 10 users.

Microsoft has officially announced that there's a new version of Windows in town, and it's called Windows 11. The company just unveiled the name and interface at its "What's next for Windows" event, along with when we can expect to get our hands on the new OS.

So far, Windows 11 includes a brand new user interface with a centered Start menu and Taskbar. It removes live tiles and replaces them with a grid of icons that can be rearranged and pinned to the new Start. There's also a new Widgets feature that houses things like your calendar, weather, sports leaderboard, and latest news. There's also an improved System Tray with a new split Notifications and Quick Actions UI.

Windows 11 also features improvements to the overall sound and design experiences of Windows, making things look and feel more fluid when in use. There are improvements to Windows Snap Assist, with new snapping layouts to choose from, and a new menu that appears when hovering over app windows to select where you want an app to be snapped to.

Windows 11 Three Pane Snapped Apps

Source: Microsoft (Image credit: Source: Microsoft)

Tablets are also in for a treat with Windows 11, as Microsoft has made some changes to improve the overall Windows experience when using touch. To begin, hit boxes around app windows are larger, so resizing them is easier now. There are also new gestures for minimizing and maximizing apps, and the ability to snap apps top and bottom when in portrait mode. Plus, there's also a new touch keyboard that's much better than the old Windows 10 one.

Many of the in-box apps are also getting new modern designs and features too. File Explorer, Microsoft Store, and more are being redesigned for Windows 11. There's also a new "Chat" app that's powered by Microsoft Teams and pinned to the Taskbar by default. This replaces the Skype app, which is no longer preinstalled.

Microsoft also says that Windows 11 will support Android apps as part of its new Microsoft Store app. A pretty big deal!

Free upgrade starting this fall

Windows 11 Lock Screen

Source: Microsoft (Image credit: Source: Microsoft)

Microsoft says that Windows 11 will begin shipping to customers this fall, and Windows Insiders can begin testing a preview of the release next week. Windows 11 will be a free upgrade for Windows 10 users, as long as your existing PC is compatible with Windows 11's new system requirements.

Windows 11's minimum system requirements are as follows:

  • A modern 64-bit processor
  • 1Ghz clock speed
  • 2 cores
  • 64GB drive
  • 4GB RAM
  • UEFI, Secure Book capable & TPM 2.0
  • 9-inch display with 1366x768 resolution
  • DirectX 12 compatible graphics / WDDM 2.x

These minimum specification requirements mean that Windows 11 is the first version of Windows to be made available on 64-bit machines only. The 32-bit version of Windows is no longer offered. 32-bit apps are still supported on Windows 11, however, so there won't be any app compatibility issues.

Be sure to check out the rest of our Windows 11 coverage as it happens, and let us know in the comments what you think of the new Windows 11.

Zac Bowden
Senior Editor

Zac Bowden is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. Bringing you exclusive coverage into the world of Windows 10 on PCs, tablets, phones, and more. Also an avid collector of rare Microsoft prototype devices! Keep in touch on Twitter: @zacbowden.

  • Announcement keeps crapping out on me (fibre gb and no other services are having issues). Anyone having similar issues?
  • Same here, I got to the part about his house feeling like home and no further. Oh well.
  • The same with me... perhaps it is part of Windows feeling like home and crashing.
  • Same the stream is getting stuck on work's fiber network.
  • I'm viewing this @ home so I know nothing else is going on network-wise.
  • This must have been a prepped article and he hit submit once 11:05 hit, I find it hard to believe he has a more solid connection in the UK... but stranger things have happened.
  • The guy is right; buffering problems are familiar. This is like 15 years ago.
  • This better be an OPTIONAL update. ie. one that you have to actively opt to install and not one that downloads to your computer and then stays there, pestering you. 'cause I don't want these garbage designs on my computers and I'm most definitely not willingly install this on any of them.
  • That will be a tough position to maintain when Win10 isn't supported and it becomes a security risk down the road.
  • Couldn't care less.
    By the time that happens, Windows 12 will have been released and reverted all these dumb designs. Windows works on a schedule. Every good version of Windows is succeeded by a garbage one, which then is succeeded by a good one.
    Windows 11 is the garbage version, so Windows 12 will be the good one.
    I rather skip directly to that one.
  • I fully expect to see you harping on Windows 12, if one exists, because of more 'disastrous' design choices because the world only revolves around you. Give me a break... the design looks nice and addresses the complaints folks had with 10. Then again, if you can't look at it positively, enjoy being out of date and out of everyone else's mind.
  • Thanks for your input, simp.
    Unfortunately for you, outside your little sad buddle of Microsoft-worshipers, the reactions to the horrible Windows 11 design are mostly negative. So...good luck keeping your cheap knock-off version of macOS for longer.
    'cause I predict Microsoft will backtrack on this dumb design once they see people hate it. Just like they did on Windows 8.
    But I bet you also were among those few to whom the disaster that was Windows 8 "was great and modern and addressed the complaints folks had with 7". Which is just a blatant lie both for Windows 8 as well as for Windows 11.
  • Keep seething, Windows sure does live rent free in your head.
    "Noooooooo computer bad computer bad"
    -t U
    I hope the Windows 11 announcement ruined your week. Get out of here.
  • Thanks for adding your comment you’ve saved me the bother.
  • What a joke. Stream keeps pausing. As usual, quality issues at Microsoft. Can't even get a stream right. Hard pass on Windows 11 for personal use. Always great ideas and poor implementation.
  • There's a Twitter stream which seems to be working:
  • Worse Windows edition ever for sure. It's funny how they revamped some features just to make them look like new, Like Teams/People, Powertoys/Maximize window, chance to add multiple desktops. Also, what's wrong with Panos?. He looks like he's at the verge of crying.
  • LOL , haters are always gonna complain
    I AM REALLY IMPRESSED by the event , Seriously
  • Have you never used RT?
  • Am I the only one who is using Edge's vertical tabs for months?
  • Won't be rushing to install this... Once bitten twice shy...
  • Any mention of ARM?
  • All Apps developed for Windows 11 using winUI
    Will support x86,x64 and ARM architecture OUT OF THE BOX Windows 11 will support ARM for sure i think
  • That is the key; getting the obscure developers to port over to win11. Remember how long it took the major hardware vendors to port from Flash even though everyone knew it was a security sieve? Pain is ahead...
  • when will this be available in the insider build?
  • next week probably
  • Wow, Android apps on Windows...didn't think they'd actually do it.
  • Yeah, that was a big point to sneak in there with just a few sentences of coverage, wasn't it!
  • It has been stated that WSL was intended to be WSA but it was not feasible at the time.
    Now we will have both.
  • Android apps via Amazon. Pretty smart touch.
  • Yeah indeed, I like the way they are going with that.
  • Holyshit wow Windows has come into a smartphone holyshit wow
  • Lol sorry for cussing lol they won't let me a editor out
  • Android app announcement was huge! Now, it's time for a Neo. Also, I can see a clear path to a Duo running WoA in the future. I wonder how efficient the OS will run.
  • ehh, if it is just running an emulator hiding the phone gui, that is not that impressive. Ever hear of BlueStacks?
  • That was probably the most underwhelming new windows presentation I have ever seeing. Not worthy of a new number. Didn't show windows explorer which tells me the OS is still inconsistent, which also tells me the OS is not touched optimized consistently either. The apps are not touch friendly either. Only 1 developer partner from the start (Adobe). No mention of the settings app. Trying to prop up Intel, AMD and Qualcomm when everyone knows they have been left in the dust.
  • should have been Windows 10.1.1
  • Panos emotional presentation was foreshadowing that there was not much here.
  • Anti-Windows 11 comments here are silly (other than DJCBS, the others just sound like anti-MS trolling with no specific points of dislike for what was demo'd). If the actual release is as cohesive as things appear in the demo (we'll have to wait and see on that), this will be a fantastic Windows. Where 10 finally united touch and desktop (after the disaster of 8), 11 SEEMS to finally homogenize all the disparate UI elements into a cohesive whole and restores the 1 good thing from Windows 8: a usable touch-based OS, but without the disastrous bifurcation of the OS that drew so much anti-Windows 8 sentiment. Now all those touch features work within the desktop environment, as they always should have. New features and improvements are much bigger than I was expecting. I'm sure some will fall flat and other will never be fully finished, but it's clear that they understand what Windows 10 did right and where it missed the mark and have incorporated that feedback into Windows 11. I'm very excited for this.
  • Where did W10 unite touch?
  • On a feature basis getting rid the tablet mode was long, long, long overdue. I still am in counseling over were my desktop went the first time I tried using that disaster. I never used it. Ever. The new Start menu is pretty sharp design as it gives something like a cell phone interface without hiding the rest of the interface. Finally we have one user interface for Windows we can fondle with a finger or a mouse. Die, Windows 8.x tablet mode, die. Windows 11 is a thing.
  • No new File Explorer and the design inconsistencies remain the same. Horrible!
  • Don't think we know that is true? The screenshots on the web are from the leaked build which is out of date. I looked carefully at all the demos and screenshots today and don't think they showed File Explorer once. The article above says: "File Explorer, Microsoft Store, and more are being redesigned for Windows 11. "
  • If Microsoft changed explorer, they would have shown it off.
  • New File Explorer and Settings app exists
    Just wait for insider build man XD
  • they also redesigned many inbuilt apps for fluent design
  • There is a new redesigned File Explorer for Windows 11, but nothing drastic. Basically the Ribbon UI is gone but pretty much all the same really.
  • huh, so no more feature updates to Win 10 this fall? 10 is done.
  • So, announcement in June for actual delivery in Fall - ie October. GJ Microsoft
  • Fall delivery looks like it will be on new hardware only. Non-insider upgrades will be in early 2022.
  • Wow! That was not what I expected. First the video stream didn't work, and when I finally was able to watch it on Twitter, it felt off! I was expecting fanfare and excitement and what I got was a really emotional Panos with a mediocre presentation. Windows 11 looks promising, but this presentation was not up to par for one of the largest software companies in the world with an unlimited budget for advertising.
  • The emotional Panos was ... I don't know ... a bit strange.
  • Panay's comments about Windows being like home laid the ground work for Nadella's comments about the future of Windows. Effectively both were saying Windows is that one place where everyone can come together for their computing home and no matter how many times it has been remodeled it will always be home. Upon reflection the Windows 11 rollout was far less about a new OS version and far more of statement from a very confident Microsoft about their vision for where they are planning to take software. We need to understand this clearly as it is going affect much. Their Windows 11 vision is, as I understand, it will be an ever increasing universal computing platform that will be the foundation for the coming highly connected, cloud services, AI driven hardware and software. Today was like, awesome. I can't wait to get my grubby paws on a new Surface Pro 8 running Windows 11.
  • Yeah this was an incredibly dull and short presentation
  • They didn’t show, but Files Explorer will have a new UI.
  • Do you have a source for that? Or is it just wishful thinking?
  • It never made sense Windows was still available in a 32-Bit version. So two now: x86 64-Bit
  • Next Gen boii
    Can't carry 32 bit on shoulders forever XD
  • One unfortunate announcement is the introduction of Android widgets. Anyone who has a Surface Duo knows what a disaster this is with Google fighting to take over the apps and files on your Duo. Unless there is a better dividing line between Windows and Android on the desktop then this is a signal that MSFT is slowly exiting the retail business.
  • Looks great, they nailed it on all parts except perhaps for the TPM requirement. I'm so glad they finally got rid of live tiles. Such a bizarre concept. Was wonderful on Windows Phone but I hated it on Windows 8 and 10. The new Microsoft Store experience is majorly awesome. I was just watching the dev focused event and companies can host links to the store app directly from their website, that's going to be huge for discoverability especially with so many big names jumping on board. The WSA|android+fireos Amazon Appstore I did not expect at all, but that makes so much sense with Amazon carrying on with their pretty compatible fork. Amazon gets more attention and incentive to developers to keep their platform fresh and Windows users can run the odd app here or there when they want. And there's nothing to stop Google from jumping on in the future (except Google being run by petulant children). The WinUI improvements look amazing. The return of proper titlebars I very much appreciate, and I really like they place the app's icon in there. And looking at the dev event so far, it appears all developers that previously invested in UWP won't simply be abandoned, but with WinUI offered a super easy way to migrate to WinUI desktop apps that are suitable for both desktop and tablet form factors. Just one win after another, awesome day!
    I am blown away by the EVENT Can't believe that all this is coming from Microsoft XD
    They really gave Windows a new life
  • Just switched to MAC, perfect timing, never MS or Windows again, if I could ditch Office I would, Moving from Exchange to Google Workspace, MS - Seeya!
  • LOL fanboys crying
  • Am I the only one that saw Clippy? Did I imagine that?