The new Windows 11 new Start menu is more colorful than the old one, it’s not quite as customizable. Gone is the option to choose different colors and transparency, but there is room for “favorites” (which can be adjusted by right-clicking). It also looks like the hamburger button has been moved into the center of this menu. The Start screen now includes an all apps list along with small live tiles. This section can be accessed with a 3D touch-like gesture known as “peek” in Windows 11. This feature allows you to open an app quickly from the taskbar without actually opening it (though you can do that too).
Windows 10 features can be accessed with voice commands, making their way to the desktop in Windows 11. Your PC will now listen for your commands even when it’s in sleep mode. According to reports, you can ask Cortana to launch apps like Groove Music or set reminders just by speaking. The feature appears to be powered by Microsoft’s Bing search engine
Commentary: This leak only confirms what we have been suspecting all along: A two-pronged approach to Windows 10 that will cater more to 2-in-1 devices as well as traditional PCs/laptops/desktops. The user interface of Windows 11 looks pretty much the same as what we have been seeing in our analysis of Windows 10X. And one thing is for sure: Microsoft will not be allowing any 3rd party manufacturers to modify the look and feel of its Windows platform (like how ASUS did with their modified version of Windows 8).
Windows 11 will be a single platform that will work across all form factors. In other words, this means that the desktop version would no longer be a separate operating system from Windows Mobile/Phone. The transition to a single Windows client is seen as a necessity in light of Microsoft’s recent announcement that it is abandoning mobile hardware altogether (i.e. no more Windows Phone). The Xbox platform is also now considered part of the ‘Windows’ family.
The first wave of Windows 11 devices will be released in early 2018, with more “Surface-like” devices coming out throughout 2018 and 2019. These are really just 2-in-1’s (laptop/tablet hybrids). In 2020, Microsoft will introduce new form factors for desktop PCs that will make it look and function like a giant tablet or 2-in-1 device. Microsoft has already patented this design. Microsoft is expected to release a third major update to Windows 11 next year, but they have not announced its name yet (maybe “Windows 12” or “Windows 12 Mobile”).
The Windows 11 release cycle will be different from earlier versions of Windows. The OS will be updated more frequently (at least 2 major updates per year). Microsoft has also promised that it will provide support for at least 5 years after each major update is released. This means that Windows 11 will continue to be supported until late 2022 (10 years after the first release). The Enterprise version of Windows 11 will be supported for an additional 2 years (until 2024). Read: How Microsoft can fix its broken Windows-as-a-Service model.
Windows Mobile/Phone Support Ends Early 2018
For those still holding onto a Windows Phone device, it’s time to move on and switch to Android or iOS. Microsoft plans to support the current branch of Windows Mobile/Phone until early 2018 when it will be totally discontinued. A leaked slide from the company reveals that there will be no future updates for these devices. If you’re planning to upgrade your phone, make sure it runs on at least Windows 10 Mobile, if not better (since that’s all that is being updated for now).
Microsoft is currently in the early stages of developing the upcoming major updates to Windows 10 (Redstone 3 and 4). The company announced that the next update (Redstone 3) will be coming out in Fall 2017. This update will primarily focus on improving the overall user experience with new features for Cortana, as well as new improvements for Windows Ink, Microsoft’s stylus support for touchscreen devices. According to Microsoft, Redstone 3 will introduce a new “automating” process for businesses and their systems.
Redstone 4, which is rumored to be called “Windows Blue”, will be a more significant update for the end-user. It will bring new features such as Timeline and Action Center, improvements for Microsoft’s Edge browser, as well as improvements to the overall experience of Windows 10. Microsoft does not have a release date for Redstone 4, but it is expected that it will be available in early June 2018.