Windows 11 brings a lot more than just design changes. Keep your eye out for these upgrades.
Microsoft’s Windows 11 is still making its way through its phased roll out and will be available for all compatible devices by mid-2022. Whether you’re waiting for it to hit your computer, already downloaded the new OS or gauging if it’s worth the update, you may be wondering how Windows 11 is different from Windows 10. Microsoft’s latest OS has a more Mac-like aesthetic with helpful features to boost productivity. Plus, you can get Android apps on your computer with Windows 11, just to name a few notable improvements.
Let’s dig into the big changes Microsoft made and what’s actually different. And make sure you check out our favorite Windows 11 features and how to use them, everything we wanted in Windows 11 but didn’t get and how to set your default search engine.
Windows 10 vs. Windows 11: Every big difference in the new OS
Design and interface
Windows 11 brings a brand-new, more Mac-like interface to the OS. It features a clean design with rounded corners and pastel shades. The iconic Start menu also moves to the center of the screen along with the Taskbar. But you can move those back to the left, as they are in Windows 10, if you prefer.
Android app integration
Android apps are now available for Windows 11 through the Microsoft Store, via the Amazon Appstore. (There were a couple of ways to access Android apps on Windows 10, including if you had a Samsung Galaxy phone, but this will make it native.) This is something Windows users have been waiting for for years and marks another move toward the merging of mobile and laptop devices.
Better virtual desktop support
Windows 11 will let you set up virtual desktops in a way that’s similar to Macs. It allows for toggling between multiple desktops at once for personal, work, school or gaming. In Windows 10, this was harder to set up and use.
Read more: Windows 11 is Here, so Does That Mean I Should Buy a New Laptop?
Easier transition from monitor to laptop
The new OS includes features called Snap Groups and Snap Layouts — collections of the apps you’re using at once that sit in the taskbar, and can come up or be minimized at the same time for easier task switching. They also let you plug and unplug from a monitor easily, without losing where your open windows are located.
Microsoft Teams added to the Taskbar
Teams is getting a facelift and will be integrated directly into the Windows 11 taskbar, making it easier to access (and a bit more like Apple’s FaceTime). You’ll be able to access teams from Windows, Mac, Android or iOS.
Widgets (well, sort of)
While they’ve been around for a while (remember desktop gadgets on Windows Vista?), including in a recent Windows 10 update, you can now access widgets directly from the Taskbar and personalize them to see whatever you’d like.
Enhanced touchscreen, voice and pen support
For tablets, Microsoft has aimed to improve the experience for touch, with more space between icons on the taskbar, and adding gestures. Windows 11 also adds haptics to your digital pen, so you can hear and feel vibrations as you use it for taking notes or drawing. Finally, the OS introduces voice typing and commands across the system.
Xbox tech to improve gaming
Windows 11 will get certain features found in Xbox consoles, like Auto HDR and DirectStorage, to improve gaming on your Windows PC. This marks another move toward integrating PCs and Xbox consoles for Microsoft.