Microsoft took the wraps off Windows 11 a few months ago, but it didn’t have a firm timeline for rolling out the new software. Now, it does. Microsoft says Windows 11 will start hitting compatible PCs on Oct. 5. However, you might have to wait much, much longer to install it on your machine. Or you could just buy a new Windows 11 PC, which seems to be what Microsoft would prefer.
The launch of Windows 11 comes more than six years after Windows 10, the longest gap between versions in the company’s history. Previously, the record for the longest-lived version of Windows was held by XP, which launched five years and change before Windows Vista arrived. Unlike in those days, Microsoft has been aggressively updating Windows 10, and it seemed like the company might never bother to release a “new” version of the OS when it could just keep mutating Windows 10. We don’t know if Windows 11 is in for another extended run, but it does include a raft of improvements over Windows 10, as you’d expect for a numerical increase.
Windows 11 will look a bit different with a lighter default theme and a simpler Start Menu. The live tiles are gone, and you’ll now get Microsoft 365 file integrations. On the functional side, window management gets a fresh coat of paint with Snap Layouts and Snap Groups. If Windows doesn’t include the features you need, you can always install third-party apps, and you’ll be able to do so more easily in Windows 11. After years of artificially limiting the scope of the integrated Store, Microsoft is lightening up in Windows 11. Going forward, developers will be able to provide Win32, PWAs, and even Android apps alongside the UWP apps Microsoft has been pushing for years.
You can, of course, install the beta of Windows 11 now if you join the Insiders program. The final version might be a wait, though. Microsoft says it will start rolling out the free update on October 5th, but it will be a phased release. The update will be made to “new eligible devices” first, according to the company, meaning computers that have been designed as “Ready for Windows 11.” Over time, the OS will make its way to “in-market” devices. So, it could be mid-2022 before your particular machine is authorized for the update.
I would not be surprised if there is a workaround to trigger the update early, but maybe that’s not the best idea given Microsoft’s caution. Alternatively, you can just buy a new machine that does have early access to Windows 11. Microsoft even provided an extensive list of hardware that will be on the VIP list, including the Surface Pro 7, Acer Swift 5, and Asus Zenbook 14.
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