When does Windows 11 come out?
Microsoft says the official release of Windows 11 (what the company calls General Availability, or GA) will arrive on new hardware in late 2021. Most knowledgeable observers expect the Windows 11 GA release to arrive in October 2021, and you would be foolish to bet against them. ZDNetWindows 11: Everything you need to know
Microsoft took the wraps off of Windows 11 in a 45-minute online event, titled "What's next for Windows," held on June 24, 2021. A few days later, the company released the first preview of the new operating system for members of the Windows Insider Preview Program.
If you use a Windows PC at home or at work, how will this upgrade affect you? I've been collecting your questions and have assembled the answers here.
At the risk of stating the blindingly obvious, Windows 11 is the successor to Windows 10. It's built on the same core architecture as Windows 10; indeed, Microsoft could have chosen to deliver the new features in Windows 11 through a series of semi-annual feature updates to Windows 10 without a name change.
Instead, they chose to make this a good old-fashioned "big bang" release, with a new major version number and a laundry list of new features.
For starters, there's a new user experience, with refreshed colors and icons, major changes to the Start menu and taskbar, an extensive reworking of the Settings app, a Widgets pane designed to deliver bite-size chunks of news and reminders, and a greatly improved way to snap windows into position.
Hardware-assisted security, which has been an optional part of Windows 10, is now mandatory, which means Secure Boot and device encryption are available by default to protect against increasingly sophisticated online attacks.
If you've been unimpressed with the paltry selection of apps in the Microsoft Store, you're not alone. Windows 11 offers a major update to the Store, including the option for third-party developers to make their conventional Win32 desktop apps available for secure downloads through the Store.
And speaking of apps, Windows 11 will include a new Windows Subsystem for Android, allowing Android apps to run on the familiar Windows desktop. There's one catch, though: For now, at least, those apps will come from the Amazon app store, which also suffers from Paltry App Selection Syndrome. In theory, the availability of Android apps could expand in the future with the addition of more robust app repositories like the Samsung App Store or even (gasp!) the Google Play Store. That feature is not yet turned on in preview releases, and anyone with a long memory of Microsoft's experiments in this space has a right to be skeptical.
The most important change in the Windows 11 era isn't software at all. Instead, look at what Microsoft calls the servicing schedule, which will now produce feature updates once per year instead of adhering to the frenetic twice-a-year feature update schedule of Windows 10.
The support calendar (what Microsoft calls the Windows lifecycle) is pushed out as well, with Microsoft offering 24 months of support for Home, Pro, Pro for Workstations, and Pro Education editions, instead of the current 18 months. IT staff in business and education environments can look forward to 36 months of support for Enterprise and Education editions. That's an improvement over the unusual tick-tock support schedule implemented for Windows 10, where only H2 releases get three full years of updates.
Security updates will continue to arrive monthly, on the second Tuesday of each month.
Unlike Windows 10, which was specifically designed to run on older hardware, Windows 11 requires relatively new hardware and will not install on older PCs. Most PCs designed and sold in 2019 or later will work with Windows 11, although there are some noteworthy exceptions.
Older hardware is less likely to pass Windows 11's stringent compatibility checks; Intel 7th Generation Core processors, for example, are not on the list of compatible CPUs, nor are PCs built using AMD Zen 1 processors. PCs purchased in 2016 or earlier are almost certain to be unsupported.
Windows 11 also requires a hardware security component called a Trusted Platform Module (TPM), along with UEFI firmware (no legacy BIOS allowed) and Secure Boot. Virtually all PCs designed and built since 2015 include TPM 2.0 support, although you might have to go into the firmware settings to enable it.
The published system requirements for Windows 11 are as follows:
Naturally, you'll need an internet connection to keep Windows 11 up-to-date and to download and use some features. Windows 11 Home edition requires an internet connection and a Microsoft Account to complete the out-of-box device setup; the option for a local account is now available only on business editions, where it's a necessary first step on the road to joining a PC to a Windows domain.
And this might be a good place to raise a farewell toast to 32-bit Windows, which is now officially retired. Windows 11 is available only as a 64-bit OS for 64-bit CPUs (32-bit Windows apps will continue to be supported, however).
When a preliminary build of Windows 11 leaked ahead of Microsoft's June announcement, the leak kicked off a flurry of superficial coverage that obsessed over tiny visual changes. To a casual observer, Windows 11 looked like a glorified theme pack for Windows 10.
That's not the case. There are some noticeable visual tweaks to what Microsoft calls the Windows 11 user experience (UX), including new icons, with more vibrant colors and rounded corners, as well as a new system font.
The taskbar contains one new button, which opens a Widgets pane on the left side of the display. For now, at least, the selection of widgets is limited mostly to Microsoft services. Other taskbar tweaks (except for the new centered alignment) are relatively minor, although the ability to fine-tune the visibility of tray icons and a crisper, cleaner Quick Settings app are welcome.
Visuals aside, Windows 11 also makes some fairly radical changes to fundamental parts of the Windows UX, including the Start menu and taskbar. The Start button still sits at the left of the taskbar, but the taskbar itself is now centered at the bottom edge of the display. (There's a setting to move everything back to the left if you don't feel like overpowering your muscle memory from decades of having Start in the lower left of the screen.)
Clicking Start slides open a new pane that barely resembles the scrolling lists of apps and utilities found on the traditional Start menu. In Windows 11, this space is split into two rectangles under a search box, with the top half dedicated to program icons and the bottom half given over to shortcuts to recent documents. You can pin programs to that top space and drag them into your preferred order, but that's pretty much the extent of customization options for programs, which can't be grouped into subfolders.
Windows 11 is an upcoming release of Microsoft's flagship operating system and the successor to Windows 10.
The only other tweak for Start is the option to pin some system folders to the bottom row, between the user profile picture and the power button.
File Explorer gets the same visual refresh as the rest of Windows, with a simplified ribbon and shortcut menus; otherwise, it retains the familiar three-pane arrangement. The Settings app, on the other hand, gets a complete makeover. A new navigation pane on the left provides ready access to the main categories, with sections on the right that slide open as needed to enable adjustments to system settings and personalization options.
On touch-enabled devices and tablets like the Surface Pro, you'll find big changes in the way that the pen and touch elements work, with more graceful transitions from PC to tablet mode and vice versa. On conventional PCs with multiple monitors and docking stations, the system is finally smart enough to remember the arrangement of windows when you reconnect.
Options for arranging windows on large external displays are significantly expanded compared to Windows 10. The familiar "snap" shortcuts still work to position windows side by side, but hovering the mouse pointer over the icon in the upper right corner of any window displays additional options for arranging three or four windows, as shown here. Those arrangements are available from the taskbar as well, allowing you to restore a specific arrangement with a single click.
Despite the significant UX refresh, you'll still encounter places where bits of older, even ancient Windows elements peek out. That's especially true for the last remaining bits of the legacy Control Panel as well as any app that is hosted by the Microsoft Management Console (MMC).
Microsoft says the official release of Windows 11 (what the company calls General Availability, or GA) will arrive on new hardware in late 2021. Most knowledgeable observers expect the Windows 11 GA release to arrive in October 2021, and you would be foolish to bet against them.
The process of updating Windows 10 PCs that meet Microsoft's hardware requirements will start around the same time and will extend into 2022.
As of July 2021, Microsoft is making preview versions of Windows 11 available for anyone who opts into the Windows Preview Program and signs up for the Dev Channel. More polished versions of Windows 11 preview releases should arrive in the Beta channel in August and September.
In advance of the official release of Windows 11, Insider preview releases can be installed on devices that don't meet the minimum hardware requirements. When the preview period ends, however, those PCs will no longer receive updates unless their owners wipe them clean and reinstall Windows 10. It's possible that a handful of older processors, especially Intel 7th Generation CPUs like those in the pricey Microsoft Surface Studio 2, will be added to the processor compatibility list. But the more likely outcome is that older PCs will be blocked from the upgrade.
Hobbyists and hackers will, of course, find ways to fool the Windows 11 compatibility checker into allowing installations on unsupported hardware. But choosing that option will not be in compliance with Microsoft's license agreement and will probably cause serious compatibility issues; this type of hacking is not recommended for anyone interested in productivity.
On any PC with a properly licensed copy of Windows 10, the upgrade to Windows 11 will be free.
Microsoft hasn't announced prices for Windows 11 retail editions yet, but it's reasonable to expect they will be identical to the prices of corresponding Windows 10 editions.
Yes, you can install Windows 11 in a VM. In fact, you can create a virtual TPM in a Windows 11 virtual machine that will satisfy the hardware requirements of the new operating system. On a Type 1 (bare metal) hypervisor like Microsoft's own Hyper-V, you'll be constrained by the same CPU requirements that govern installations on a physical PC. On a Type 2 hypervisor such as Oracle Virtual Box or VMware workstation, you might be able to spoof that requirement, but the effort is probably not worth the risk.
Most apps and devices that work with Windows 10 should work as expected under Windows 11. The new operating system is sufficiently similar to its predecessor that the differences shouldn't pose a problem for most apps. Of course, answering that question is why we have preview releases, so the best way to check compatibility for a device or app is to install the latest Windows Insider preview release and try running it. (If you encounter an error, be sure to use the Feedback Hub app to file a report.)
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15 July, 2021 - 08:40am
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The wait is finally over — Windows 11 is here as Microsoft has officially kicked off the Insider Preview program for the next generation of Windows. The company is also rolling out several updates on top of the base Windows 11 build in preparation for an eventual rollout via the stable channel. This article will serve as the central repository of knowledge base (KB) articles and download links for all updates related to Windows 11, including both the Insider Preview and the stable builds.
Windows updates are compressed in a special archive file format called Microsoft Cabinet (CAB) that supports embedded digital certificates used for maintaining archive integrity. When published via Microsoft Update Catalog, Microsoft often wraps them into the MSU (Microsoft Update) format.
The internal structure of a MSU package
The primary focus of this index is centered around the Cumulative Updates (also known as Monthly Rollups), which include both security and reliability updates that are packaged together. Since they are cumulative in nature, the latest rollup package has the ability to update the target Windows version to the most recent build, regardless of what the previous build number was.
In some cases, one may need to apply a Servicing Stack Update (SSU) before installing the newest Cumulative Update (CU). The servicing stack is the code that installs other operating system updates, hence Microsoft usually bundles them with CUs before publishing a standalone MSU package. Power users or system admins may still prefer to deal with the CAB variant for ease of deployment. In that case, always install/integrate the SSU before engaging with the CU.
Microsoft also provides CUs for the .NET Framework portion of the Windows OS. Unlike the SSU, they are distributed separately from the regular CUs.
Windows Feature Experience Pack is yet another type of update that delivers new feature improvements to customers outside of major Windows feature updates.
Then comes the Dynamic Updates (DU) that are meant for the Windows setup engine. They are being automatically downloaded and applied on the fly in order to fix the Windows recovery environment (WinRE), setup binaries, or any files that the Windows setup uses for feature updates. However, we decided not to include them in this index for the sake of avoiding clutters.
To have a clear idea about Windows update terminology, see the article about the types of Windows updates. Keep in mind that an inter-OS (e.g. from Windows 10 to Windows 11) or an inter-build (e.g. from Windows 10 November 2019 Update/Build 18363 to May 2020 Update/Build 19041) update is a way more complex scenario. Microsoft handles such upgrade paths using the Unified Update Platform (UUP), the details of which can be found in this tutorial.
To install a CAB update package, you need to use a built-in system utility called Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM). The command-line syntax should be as follows:
Since Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 21382, Microsoft has made a significant change in the Latest Cumulative Update (LCU) format. As a result, the end user can’t use the CAB file directly. To perform the installation using the built-in update module, the corresponding Patch Storage Files (PSF) package must be present. This is the exact reason one can find PSF files corresponding to each LCU in the Windows 11 UUP Dump. In case of an online installation, Windows Update only downloads and generates missing PSFX (PSF Express) payloads, while the CAB package only contain the manifests.
However, DISM alone can’t handle the PSF packages, which means we need to somehow combine the PSF and CAB files manually before trying to install them offline. Fortunately, there exists an open source tool named PSFX v2 Repack for this job.
The MSU variant, on the other hand, is somewhat standalone in nature due to the fact that one can simply double-click on it to install the package. Note that DISM can also install MSU files.
After the installation finishes, you will be prompted to restart the PC for the changes to take effect.
The Settings app in Windows 11 has an option to view the list of updates installed on your PC. Here’s how to access it.
The good old “Programs and Features” applet in the classic Control Panel can also show you the list of installed updates.
If command-line is your thing, then you can opt for DISM or Windows Management Instrumentation (WMIC) as well. You need to execute the command from an elevated instance of Windows Terminal.
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13 July, 2021 - 07:37pm
Microsoft has officially unveiled the next-generation operating system Windows 11 through an online press conference on June 24, 2021, after 6 years from the release of Windows 10. The main changes lie in the UI interface, application store, game performance and tablet mode. It is worth noting that Windows 11 will add compatibility support for Android applications for the first time. In the appearance, Windows 11 is introducing more rounded corner designs, placing the "Start" button at the bottom center of the screen instead of the left side. The new system has new icon styles, finer transparency, new themes, improved light and dark themes, and ubiquitous rounded corners of windows. Functionally, Windows 11 will support Android applications, users can download through the Amazon application store. And Microsoft announced that it has rebuilt the Microsoft Store, allowing users to explore applications, games, video programs, movies more easily. In terms of games, it is also one of the most important improvements of Windows 11. Microsoft announced that it will introduce Auto-HDR on Windows 11 to enhance the experience in game display. And the DirectStorage can provide faster loading time and a more refined game world. Microsoft has reiterated that the new system can be upgraded for free for Windows 10 users, which is in line with their usual upgrade strategy. And you’ll need a PC that meets the minimum hardware requirements.
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