Microsoft has completed Windows 11, the next great iteration of Windows. If it hadn't been for the leaks, this would have been a pretty surprising move as we were all expecting a Sun Valley Windows 10 feature update in the fall, but instead we're getting almost a whole new operating system. Well, something like that.

As with any major software release, the new features and changes are most important to the end user. There are actually a lot of exciting additions out there, but here we're going to take a look at the eight most important features Windows 11 has to offer.

1. Native support for Android apps in Windows 11

Image source: Microsoft

The ability to run your favorite Android apps natively on your PC is arguably the most important feature of Windows 11. Nobody expected that, but Microsoft made it possible. Currently, you need a third-party Android emulator such as Bluestacks to do this.

It's worth noting that there is no Google Play Store on Windows 11. How exactly does this work at Microsoft, you ask? Well, the company uses Amazon Appstore for app distribution. This move seems to be a direct response to Apple bringing iOS apps to the M1 Macs.

Image source: Microsoft

Raise your hands if you hated Live Tiles. We're happy that Microsoft finally got rid of them, almost a decade after their original introduction in Windows 8. The Start menu now looks a lot neater, just with the apps you pinned along with your recommended files.

More importantly, the start button, search bar, and other pinned apps are now in the center of your taskbar. This looks pretty similar to the Dock in macOS. However, you have the option to change the orientation of the taskbar to the left if you wish.

3. Faster and seamless updates

If you're one of several users annoyed about how Windows 10 handles software updates, this is the next big feature to look forward to. Starting with Windows 11, software updates will be 40 percent smaller in order to drastically reduce the time it takes to download new firmware.

That being said, Microsoft promises that Windows 11 updates will happen in the background without interrupting your tasks. In addition, the updates will also complete faster because they are smaller. It is safe to assume that seamless updates only apply to minor security updates and not to the feature upgrades that Microsoft plans to release once a year.

4. Snap layouts and snap groups

Image source: Microsoft

Are you an avid multitasker? Then you'll learn about Snap Layouts, a unique new way to use apps side by side. You can currently record apps side by side, but starting with Windows 11, you also have pre-built layouts that allow you to quickly view up to four apps at once.

You can choose from a total of six different layouts. All you have to do is move the mouse pointer over the maximize button in the title bar.

Snap Groups is an extension of this feature and it remembers the apps you've been working on. For example, let's say you click a new notification while working on multiple apps at the same time. Microsoft pins the app group to the system tray for quick access once you've edited the notification.

5. Docking experience

Nowadays, a lot of people connect their laptops to external displays to work on their projects. Microsoft wants to improve the docking experience with the next version. Windows 11 minimizes all open windows to your laptop screen when you disconnect the monitor from your laptop. And when you connect it again, these windows will automatically appear on the monitor as before.

You no longer have to manually reconfigure your window layout. We sincerely hope that this feature will also work for PC setups with multiple monitors.

6. Auto HDR

Image source: Microsoft

Next, we have a game-centric feature that will change the look of most games. Microsoft is bringing the Xbox Series X's Auto HDR functionality to Windows 11. The feature automatically updates the lighting and color of your game to a high dynamic range to make it look brighter and more vibrant.

The best part? This feature does not rely on developers to add assistance. You don't have to activate it manually for a specific game either. As long as the game is based on DirectX 11 or higher and you have the necessary hardware to support HDR, you can use Auto HDR in Windows 11.

7. Direct Storage

Image source: Xbox

One of the outstanding features of the Xbox Series X / S is also finding its way onto the PC. DirectStorage is an I / O technology that allows games to quickly load assets directly from memory to the graphics card without involving the processor. This significantly reduces CPU overhead and allows game worlds to be rendered faster than ever before.

However, not all PCs that can run Windows 11 support this feature. According to Microsoft, you need at least a 1 TB NVMe SSD and a GPU that supports DirectX 12 Ultimate for these fast I / O processes. These are definitely high-end specs by today's standards, but they will power the next generation of games.

Read more: What is Microsoft DirectStorage? How does it make gaming faster?

Image source: Microsoft

You may remember Desktop Gadgets, Microsoft's hip term for widgets from the days of Windows 7 / Vista. The company later retired that feature with the release of Windows 8, citing security concerns. However, a similar feature is making a comeback in the form of a modern widgets control panel that looks like a sheet of glass on your desktop. It's almost similar to Apple's implementation of widgets in macOS.

This new area can be accessed from the center of your system tray. It displays the same information as the recently added News and Interests section in Windows 10. Additionally, there is a search box at the top to get web results that we assume is supported by Bing.

Related: How to Get Windows 10 Widgets on Your Desktop

Windows is getting a much-needed makeover

It's been six years since Windows 10 was released, and the operating system has finally received the overhaul it needs to meet today's standards. It's pretty obvious that Microsoft took design cues from macOS, but they added some generational features like DirectStorage that will propel PCs in the right direction for years to come.

Windows 11 is available as a free upgrade for existing users this Christmas season, provided your hardware is compatible. An early preview of the software will be available to Windows insiders in the coming weeks.

Can your PC run Windows 11? Check these system requirements

Windows 11 is here, but can your system hardware actually run the new operating system?

Continue reading

About the author

Hamlin Rozario
(35 published articles)

Hamlin is a full time freelance writer who has worked in the field for over four years. Since 2017 his work has appeared on OSXDaily, Beebom, FoneHow and others. In his spare time, he either trains in the gym or takes big strides in the crypto room.

More
By Hamlin Rozario

Subscribe to our newsletter

Subscribe to our newsletter for tech tips, reviews, free e-books, and exclusive offers!

One more step …!

Please confirm your email address in the email we just sent you.