Introducing Microsoft’s latest desktop operating system
When Windows 10 was launched in 2015, one senior engineer famously claimed it would be the last ever version that Microsoft produced. Now just six years later Microsoft has developed Windows 11, which was released this month.
What is Windows 11?
Used across the world, Microsoft Windows is installed on more than 75% of all desktop and laptop systems. Windows 11 is the latest version of the operating system, intended to replace Windows 10 over the coming months and years
What are the most exciting new features?
As you would expect, the new OS offers a range of features designed to enhance productivity and experience for both home and professional users. Among the most exciting advances are:
1. Smarter collaboration and Unified Communications
The global lockdown emphasised the importance and value of unified communications. Many organisations made the switch to Microsoft Teams to help keep their employees connected as they worked from home. Windows 11 has Microsoft Teams embedded directly into the operating system, making it easier than ever to communicate. One-click enables users to call chat, video conference, and even send SMS text messages directly from their desktop.
2. Multitasking improvements
Multi-monitor set-ups are increasingly common; the increased screen real estate helps to boost productivity – by up to 18% according to one study. However, some users cannot physically accommodate two monitors, so the Windows 11 interface has been adjusted to make better use of a single screen working environment. Snap layouts, Desktops, and a ‘more intuitive redocking experience’ can be used to make individual windows behave more like separate screens.
3. Improved security
IT security is a major concern, particularly as employees are spending more time working outside the corporate network. Microsoft claims that Windows 11 now operates on a Zero Trust basis. Hardware-based integrity protection ensures data is secured between PC and the cloud, businesses can quickly apply two-factor authentication (2FA) at the desktop level using Azure Active Directory and the Windows Hello biometric app.
4. Enhanced tablet functionality
In keeping with the trend towards more mobile computing, Windows 11 has several enhancements targeted at tablet users. This includes some relatively small changes to the interface, such as increasing space between icons on the taskbar, which are designed to improve the touchscreen experience for instance. Microsoft has also added haptic support for digital pens, allowing for a more natural ‘feel’ when drawing and tapping. They have also refined and extended voice support, so that voice commands and typing are available throughout the entire operating system.
What are the key differences between Windows 11 and Windows 10
According to Microsoft, Windows 11 is a truly hybrid operating system, blending traditional desktop computing, mobile devices, and the cloud. Users will be pleased to note that the Start button remains – but it has undergone serious changes, such as the deprecation of Live Tiles and named groups and folders on the menu.
Despite a continued emphasis on mobile computing, Tablet Mode will no longer be available, nor will the repositionable Taskbar. However, Microsoft is keen to highlight that Windows 11 is more than just a cosmetic overhaul, stating that it is genuinely a new operating system.
What does Windows 11 mean for your applications?
Operating system upgrades are a major risk to operations – if your mission-critical apps fail to work correctly, the results could be catastrophic. Windows 10 and Windows 11 have been designed to coexist within your environment so you can use the same tools to manage both.
For any business with 150+ seats, Microsoft offers AppAssure – a guarantee that your Windows 10 apps will continue to function perfectly after upgrading to Windows 11. You will still need to carry out the usual change management tests prior to any OS rollout, but you have the guarantee of assistance from Microsoft in the event of any incompatibility issue.
Microsoft is also currently running a private preview of a new tool, test Base for Microsoft 365. This is expected to be released alongside Windows 11, allowing IT administrators to validate apps across a variety of Windows features and quality updates and environments in a Microsoft-managed Azure environment.
Using the available tools and backed by assistance from Microsoft, your business should be able to navigate a Windows 11 upgrade without encountering significant application compatibility problems.
How is Windows 11 deployed?
Windows 11 offers two main deployment methods depending on the target PC. For unmanaged devices, like those owned by home users or small businesses, the upgrade process can be triggered using the PC Health Check app. This will verify the target computer meets the minimum system requirements, before leading the user through the rest of the download and installation process.
For larger businesses with centrally managed devices, the Windows 11 upgrade can be rolled out using Microsoft Intune, Endpoint Configuration Manager, or other configuration management tool(s) you currently use. If you rely on Windows Update for Business, you may need to make a few adjustments to the Target Version deployment policy.
Endpoint Configuration Manager has the added advantage of being cloud-based, allowing you to install Windows 11 on remote computers without having to arrange site visits or return-to-office recalls. This is particularly useful as remote work becomes an established aspect of operations.
The desktop operating system may have changed, but the deployment methods remain reassuringly familiar. If nothing else, this will help to simplify and streamline the transition, containing costs and allowing your users to benefit from the new enhancements quicker.
To learn more about Windows 11 and how to ensure your upgrade process is as smooth as possible, please get in touch.