Windows 11 – A first glimpse at Microsoft’s new operating system

Windows 10 X

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is about an early preview version of Windows 11. All features are subject to change.

A few weeks ago I wrote about Windows 10X and all the new stuff that was coming to it. Shortly after that, Microsoft announced that it would scrap Windows 10X, and use parts of it for future versions of Windows 10. As it turned out, they ultimately used the work they did for 10X to kickstart the next iteration of their Windows product line: Windows 11.

Yesterday, a preview build of Windows 11 was leaked on the internet. This happened just days before a big online event, that is apparently targeted at announcing Windows 11 publicly. Today I took this early version for a spin to see what’s coming to the new Windows:

A new Taskbar and Start Menu

When looking at Windows 11 for the first time, the most prominent change is the centered Taskbar and the new Start Menu.

The new centered Taskbar and Start Menu.

If you think that the centered Taskbar is a little odd, think about it again: Most current operating systems on the market are using this centered approach. So most users should be used to finding their most important apps pinned to the middle of their screen, instead of finding them in a corner. The “All Apps” (a.k.a Start Menu) button is also there now. So people that are more used to mobile operating systems will have a little easier start I think.

But don’t worry! Microsoft of course added an option to change the alignment of the Taskbar back to the left corner 🙂 So smashing your mouse cursor to the left lower corner and clicking is still possible (Yes, I love doing that too).

The alignment of the Taskbar can be changed back to the left side in the settings.

The new Start Menu

The new Start Menu in Windows 11

I like this one a lot! Why? Because it is easy and to the point, like any phone or tablet screen nowadays. You like an app? Pin it to your home screen. You don’t like it? Leave it in the “All Apps” menu. You like it a lot? Pin it to your Taskbar. Super simple and efficient. Just feels natural.

When the Windows 10 Start Menu emerged, a lot of people have been disappointed with the way Microsoft imagined the Windows 8 Start Menu. At first, the Windows 10 Start Menu was more or less a compressed version of the one seen in 8. Over time Microsoft implemented lots of improvements and changes. But in the end the whole thing still felt a little overloaded and impractical.

If I think of my use of the Windows 10 Start Menu, it was mostly like “Pin some app and keep it where it is for quick access”. Just like I do everyday on my phone. I never used any grouping features and even less the Live Tiles. If I think about the situation for my coworkers and friends, I think they did it pretty much the same. Meaning all the additional chrome and features were never really used or appreciated by the broader userbase. Now, Microsoft ultimately reacted and made a simpler version of the whole thing. Nice!


Widgets in Windows 11

Another feature that was added is the Widget feature. Right now, Widgets is just a re-designed version of the recently added “News & Interests” feature in Windows 10.

At this point I can easily imagine that they want to change it to some system like the one nowadays found on iOS or Android (or, respectively, the one that Windows Vista and 7 had). Let’s see what will become of it in the future.

Design changes

Aside from the new features, Microsoft is implementing a new styling paradigm. While Windows 8 and 10 were focused on Tiles and Boxes, Microsoft now seems to change that to “rounded”. You can already see this change in some areas of the Windows 11 preview, e.g. with standard dialog buttons or in the “Windows + X” menu.

In addition to that, there were lots of animations and movement added. The Out-Of-Box-Experience for example is all jumpy, moving and colorful. Even the first login experience has a moving background that reminds me of some animations that I’ve seen on HoloLens 2.

This is just the beginning!

What we can see in this very early preview is already very amazing in my opinion. Keep in mind that nothing is finished yet, and that there probably still is a lot to come. I expect that we will see a lot more of Windows 11 and how it will be in the end at Microsoft’s Windows Event next week.

If you are interested to know more at the earliest possible time, I highly recommend to tune in! The Event will be live streamed on the 24th of June 2021 here:

Microsoft Windows Event – Watch the June 24 LIVE stream

You can also follow me on Twitter to get the latest news regarding Windows 11 and other Microsoft products:

Oliver Braun (@OliverBraunIT) / Twitter

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