Is Windows 11 All it’s Cracked up to be?
The official Windows 11 release took place on October 5, 2021, and it’s time to learn all about the new operating system and what it brings to the table. As a lot of us are likely familiar, Windows 10 was supposed to be the last version. So, what really happened? Read on to get the details.
What’s New with Windows 11?
Microsoft’s Windows 11 operating system is here to empower users with better security, productivity, and connectivity. One of the biggest changes with Windows 11 is that Microsoft now offers just one feature update per year instead of the usual semi-annual feature updates as was the case with Windows 10. It is believed that the switch to annual updates is based on user feedback. Let’s look at some of the biggest changes brought about by Windows 11.
- STAY SECURE WITH WINDOWS 11
A top priority for the new version is security and Microsoft has planned for it very carefully. Microsoft is aware of the evolving threat landscape and the hybrid digital workplace that the majority of the world is operating in. Due to this, Windows 11 is made secure by design as it includes inbuilt technologies that ensure protection from the chip to the cloud. Without compromising on productivity, Windows 11 is zero trust ready to protect access and data across devices. To ensure a reliable and productive experience, Microsoft Windows 11 will continue to have monthly security updates which will arrive on the second Tuesday of each month and contain all previous updates to keep devices protected.
- EXPERIENCE BEAUTY AND SIMPLICITY
Among the most visible upgrades in the operating system is the user experience. Windows 11 is simple, modern, and beautiful. The entire user experience has been overhauled to be a lot cleaner so that it inspires efficiency among users. The all-new interface makes it easier to find resources and get started. With the start button at the centre and a modification to the taskbar, Microsoft is optimizing user experience as much as possible. So much so that Microsoft Teams is being integrated right into the taskbar for quick access and easier collaboration. Among the new features are snap layouts, snap groups, custom desktops and widgets which offer incredible multitasking capabilities. They give you the ability to customize screen real estate, which is a significant step in enhancing the user experience. Let’s take a look at how:
- Snap Layouts enable you to arrange a bunch of different windows and apps that you may have open on your device.
- Snap Groups are a set of open windows that you saved in Snap Layouts that can be minimized and maximized collectively from the taskbar as needed.
- Windows 11’s custom desktops allow you to create separate desktops for work, leisure, school, or other activities and switch between them with ease.
- Users are empowered to make better use of their devices with the ability to optimize their screen space for efficiency.
- In addition to the AI-powered customizable feed, Widgets are an impressive addition that brings at-a-glance information to the surface for users.
- INTERNET EXPLORER IS NOT INCLUDED
Windows 11 does not have Internet Explorer. It’s the first OS from Microsoft since Windows 95 to not ship with Microsoft Internet Explorer. Don’t despair, Microsoft Edge delivers so many benefits and we recommend using it as the default browser at your organization. Microsoft Edge is based on Chromium open source and if you’re running Windows 10 or Windows 11 it has the highest-rated protection against phishing and malware.
- ALL NEW MICROSOFT STORE
In addition, the Microsoft Store is seeing significant changes. It has been rebuilt with an all-new design to offer unmatched speed and simplicity. Microsoft is now offering more applications through the store, including Android applications, and making them easily discoverable. As mentioned before, Microsoft is dedicated to user security and therefore, ensures that every app downloaded from the store is destined for security and family safety.
The Microsoft Store is now opening its doors and creating more opportunities for creators and developers as it allows them and independent software vendors to bring in their apps regardless of which application framework they were created on. Expanding the application ecosystem is set to be beneficial for both customers and Microsoft as users get easy access to the apps they need.
Are You Ready to Upgrade to Microsoft Windows 11?
There are some hardware requirements that need to be met before successfully installing or upgrading to the new operating system. Microsoft’s put together a comprehensive list of must-haves to be able to benefit from Windows 11 on your PC.
Your processor needs to be a 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster with two or more cores on a compatible 64-bit processor or system on a chip (SoC), with RAM of 4 gigabytes (GB) or greater.
The storage requirements are also rather significant as you will need 64GB or greater available storage to install Microsoft Windows 11. Let’s not leave out the additional storage space that may be required to download updates and enable specific features.
Some other significant requirements are:
- Graphics card: Compatible with DirectX 12 or later, with a WDDM 2.0 driver.
- System firmware: UEFI, Secure Boot capable.
- TPM: Trusted Platform Module (TPM) version 2.0.
- Display: High definition (720p) display, 9″ or greater monitor, 8 bits per colour channel.
- Internet connection: Internet connectivity is necessary to perform updates, and to download and use some features.
What’s more secure: Windows 10 or Windows 11?
Taking a look at the hardware requirements for Windows 11 it is evident that they are much more stringent. In fact, they are so strict that some of Microsoft’s own devices could be incompatible with Windows 11. But these hardware requirements have been put in place keeping in mind the current security threat scenario. As many organizations work remotely and operate across unsecured networks spanning different locations, prioritizing security becomes essential and that is what Microsoft Windows 11 is cut out for.
Microsoft is making zero trust a major focus and becoming more vocal about increasing security with Windows 11. In the new operating system, security features such as hardware-based isolation hypervisor code integrity and the secure boot will be turned on by default.
As listed among one of the requirements for installing/ upgrading to Windows 11, the Trusted Platform Module 2.0 chip is a key player for ensuring security. This chip is used for cryptographic operations and includes security mechanisms that make it tamper-resistant. This further boosts Windows 11’s zero-trust approach.
Start Preparing for Your Upgrade
There is no need to rush the transition to Windows 11, every organization should do it at a comfortable pace. In the meantime, Microsoft will support customers regardless of whether they are fast or slow adopters. The current retirement date for Windows 10 Home and Pro as well as Enterprise is October 14, 2025, giving users plenty of time to upgrade and adapt. But, if you’re ready to get started, be sure to have a deployment plan in place so that you can transition successfully without hindering productivity.
Here are a few things that you should be mindful of when installing or upgrading to Microsoft Windows 11:
- Review Policies: Take into consideration your organization’s security objectives, compliance deadlines, and device activity.
- Validate Applications: By joining the Windows Insider program for the business you can validate that your applications, infrastructure, and deployment processes are ready for Windows 11. This gives you the advantage of free Microsoft support to validate pre-release builds.
- Windows 11 does not support NTVDM which eliminates support for 16-bit application supportability. Some organizations are collectors of antiquated apps so it’s important to note that Windows 11 simply won’t run them, so changes need to be considered if such apps are typically required.
- Analytics and Assessment Tools: If you are a Microsoft endpoint manager user you will have access to your assessment for hardware readiness later this year. This will enable you to quickly identify devices that are eligible for the Windows 11 upgrade. In case you use Windows Update for Business Group Policy or Configuration Service Provider, you cannot use feature update deferrals and will have to use the Target Version capability to go from Windows 10 to Windows 11. At the same time, PCs must be on Windows 10 20H1 in order to upgrade to Windows 11.
When Can you Get Windows 11?
Windows 11 is now available since October 5, 2021. All eligible PCs with Windows 10 will be able to upgrade for free from this day and all new PCs with pre-installed Windows 11 will roll out as well. The free upgrade to Windows 11 will be available in phases and it is expected that all eligible devices will be able to avail of it by mid-2022.
Windows Update will notify you when the new upgrade is available on your eligible device, or you can also check for it by going to Settings > Windows Update and selecting Check for updates.
Get ready for the latest Windows experience that offers simplicity, creativity, and better connectivity. If you would like to discuss your security options as you transition from Windows 10 to Windows 11, Steeves and Associates’ experts would be happy to go over the details with you. Reach out to our team with any questions about your upgrade journey today!