Windows 11: Download, Pricing, Features, Changes And Actual Release Date

Although the news of Windows 11 had leaked weeks earlier, Microsoft said that it would officially announce Windows 11 on 24th June 2021. We also decided to wait until this time to write about Windows 11. Windows 11 is essentially Windows 10 but with a visual overhaul.

Windows 11 brings in some exciting changes including a new center aligned Taskbar and the start menu, a completely new OOBE experience, task view, window snap controls, new icons and a lot more. We will discuss these in this article.

Windows 11?

The very first thing I noticed was the “11” written on the wallpaper that Microsoft placed on its event page. Here is how it looks:

Windows 11

Additionally, Windows 11 ISO leaked and could be downloaded. Windows 11 Dev Build 21996.1 has leaked into the wild. Despite the fact that most of the download links have been removed, some links still exist if you do a thorough search on Google. You can also search for ISO on torrent sites in order to download and install this build for Windows 11.

Windows 11 Download and Installation

While there is plenty of hype for downloading Windows 11, it is illegal to download and install Windows 11 right now. All the links for downloading Windows 11 should be illegal. That’s why we would advise you not to download Windows 11 until Microsoft officially announces it and provides the official download links.

If you are lucky enough to have downloaded the ISO file, you can install it using the same procedure as for Windows 10.

  • Create a bootable USB using Rufus or Ventoy
  • Boot the system using the Windows 11 bootable USB
  • Follow the instructions to install Windows 11

The installation process is virtually the same as for Windows 10.

Please note that this is just a leaked dev build of Windows 11 and should never be used in production. You should only install it on test systems.

Upon installing Windows 11 and checking the version by going to Run –> winver, you will find that Windows is named Windows 11, which indicates that this will be the next version of Windows.

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One thing to note here is that if you are running Hyper-V on Windows 10 or Windows Server, Windows 11 will not be installed on Hyper-V. It will only be installed on the actual physical machine or on VMware. This is due to the TPM restrictions on ISO. Windows 11 requires the Trusted Platform Module (TPM) version 2.0 to be installed on any system.

Windows 11 release date and pricing

As speculated before, Windows 11 is a completely separate Operating System than Windows 10. Windows 10 will live as a separate entity and will be supported until 2025.

Windows 11 is not available for download at the moment. Microsoft will make it available for download from July 4th onwards. First, it will be available for Windows Insiders only. You can learn more about the Windows Insiders program and how to download Windows 11 when it is available for Insiders.

Along with Insiders, Windows 11 will be available to eligible Windows 10 PC owners.

Who will be eligible?

People who have recently bought a laptop or computer with Windows 10 pre-installed will be eligible for a free upgrade to Windows 11 as soon as it is available. The free upgrade option will be available throughout 2021 and will continue into 2022.

It seems like not all users will get a free upgrade to Windows 11. It remains to be seen how much Windows 11 will cost consumers who want to buy a new copy.

To check if you are eligible for a free upgrade, go to Windows 11 page and download the PC health check app.

System requirements

Windows 11 has identical requirements to Windows 10 with one major exception. Windows 11 requires the Trusted Platform Module (TPM) 2.0 for installation. It will not even be installed on a system without a TPM 2.0 module.

Other requirements include a minimum of 1 GHz processor with 2 cores and 64-bit compatibility or System on a Chip (SoC), DirectX 12 compatible graphics card, a minimum of 9″ 720p display, 4 GB of RAM, 64 GB of storage and Secure boot capable UEFI.

Windows 11 features

While I still don’t have Windows 11 installed on my test system, there are a few features that people are discussing on Twitter and over the web. I will share the screenshots and the features here.

Updated OOBE Experience

When you clean install Windows 11, you’ll notice a refreshing change in the Out Of Box Experience (OOBI) UI. Although the process is the same as Windows 10, the UI has been ramped up.

The only thing Microsoft is making it difficult is installing Windows 11 with a local account. Microsoft insists that logging into Windows 11 with a Microsoft ID is more beneficial, but you can install Windows 11 with a local user account.

On the Let’s add your account screen, select the offline account from the sign-in options. Microsoft will keep nagging you about the limited experience you will have with an offline account but you can continue to complete the installation process.

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Taskbar and the Start Menu

Windows 11 logs in with a center aligned taskbar and the start menu also opens center aligned. This is a big change because since Windows 3.1, the taskbar and the start menu were always at the bottom left by default.

If you prefer to have taskbar and the start menu on the left hand side, you can do so by changing the option in Windows Settings.

Windows 11 start menu doesn’t come with live tiles. Instead, only icons can be shown. You can also ping apps to the start menu. If you want to see all programs list, you will need to press the All apps button in the top right corner of the start menu.

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Task View

Alt-Tab switching has become a lot easier in Windows 11. Windows 11 shows a live preview of each open window. You can either tab through each window or select a window of your choice with the mouse.

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Apart from this, if you click on the Task View button in the taskbar, you will be able to arrange program windows on multiple virtual desktops. You can also create multiple desktop environments in the task view window.

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Window Snap Controls

If you have a large monitor and you work with multiple windows open and active simultaneously, then this feature is a blessing for you. Windows 11 comes with default snap controls.

If you hover over the resizer button next to the close button of the active window, it will show you a list of alignments you can make to cascade the program windows on the screen.

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Widgets

In an interesting move, Microsoft has removed News & Interests taskbar flyout widget on which it has been working for quite a while. The new widgets panel replaces News & interests and it’s pinned to the taskbar by default.

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Source: Microsoft

You will need to sign into your Microsoft account to use widgets. It seems like the good old widgets of Windows 7 and earlier are coming back to Windows 11. You can stay up to date with the news and information of your choice using these Windows widgets which seemed impossible with News & interests widget.

The new Microsoft Store

In a surprise move, Microsoft announced a new Microsoft Store which will let developers use their own revenue streams. Third-party app stores will be able to integrate themselves with Microsoft Store. As a result, a lot of apps that work only on a specific platform will be available to Windows 11 users.

For example, Windows 11 users will be able to download and install Android apps through Amazon Store which will be integrated with the Microsoft Store. This will open huge opportunities for both publishers and the consumers.

Think about how you’ll be able to play Android games and use Android apps inside your PC without using any virtualization software. It’s definitely a long leap.

These are just some of the features introduced in Windows 11. We’ll keep on adding new features here as we keep experimenting with the new Operating System.

What do you think of the new Windows 11? Was it necessary to launch Windows 11 when Microsoft could release the same features for Windows 10? What is the intention of Microsoft behind the release of Windows 11? Moving to Software as a Service model or something else? Please tell us in the comments below.

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Usman Khurshid
Usman Khurshid is a seasoned IT Pro with over 15 years of experience in the IT industry. He has experience in everything from IT support, helpdesk, sysadmin, network admin, and cloud computing. He is also certified in Microsoft Technologies (MCTS and MCSA) and also Cisco Certified Professional in Routing and Switching. Reach him at Twitter @usmank11

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