The next versions of Microsoft Windows, appropriately named Windows 11, will be launching on October 5th of this year. The operating system is said to bring a set of changes and upgrades to layout, usability, as well as improvements in gaming performance. The official announcement hit Twitter recently (seen below), but the real juice of the details comes from a post on the windows webpage.
As perfect as 11.11 *would* be, we just couldn't wait any longer to make #Windows11 available. Get it October 5th, and read all about it now.
— Windows (@Windows) August 31, 2021
On October 5th, eligible Windows 10 devices will begin to be able to upgrade to the new OS for free. PCs pre-built with Windows 11 will also start to become available for purchase from this date. The rollout will happen gradually over time, with all eligible devices offered the free upgrade by mid-2022. Of course, Windows 11 is optional, so you can decide not to upgrade when your desktop/laptop/other pops up a notification. For those wondering if their device is eligible for Windows 11, you can find the system requirements here.
So what changes does Windows 11 actually make? Firstly it’ll bring some new visual and audio changes to the user interface, creating what is said to be a “modern, fresh, clean and beautiful” layout. Windows 11 is also said to come with new accessibility features, a rebuilt storefront, Microsoft Team integration and plenty more quality of life adjustments and layout changes. As gamers though, what we really care about is what Windows 11 means for our favourite pastime.
Windows 11 has a suite of changes aimed at gamers. A function dubbed “Auto HDR” will be incorporated that pushes compatible games beyond their previous limits. HDR stands for High Dynamic Range and it essentially facilitates a wider range of brightness values and colour, giving more depth and richness to the visuals. Auto HDR was a technology introduced into the Xbox Series X|S and it’s good to see it making its way to Windows 11 too. DirectStorage is a new tech that’s also being introduced with Windows 11, this one aiming at reducing loading times by reducing strain on the CPU.
The last Windows 11 change aimed at gamers is a deeper integration with the Xbox app. For those who use Game Pass for PC, you’ll now find it built into the OS. I’m not sure that forcing all Windows users to engage or see specific Microsoft programs like the Xbox app or Microsoft Teams is necessarily a great thing for consumers, but as someone who uses both programs voluntarily, I guess it’s not such a bad thing. Regardless, those changes and more are coming to Windows 11.
Windows 11 launches on October 5th, 2021 with a staggered rollout expected into mid-2022. If you want my advice, there’s no need to be an early adopter here. Let others upgrade and provide feedback first before you decide to jump in. There’ll be plenty of time to claim that free upgrade.