Windows 11, the first major update to the Windows platform since Windows 10 launch in 2015, is only months away. The operating system offers new interface and several features that bring Windows into a post-2020 world with more people working between their homes and the office.
For existing Windows 10 users, Windows 11 will be available as a free upgrade around the 2021 holiday season or before, so long as your computer is compatible. (Find out if your PC will work with Windows 11 here.) And if you still need to upgrade to Windows 10, don’t worry — a free Windows 10 download trick still works for many people.
Here’s everything that’s changed from Windows 10 to Windows 11. And make sure you check out all of our favorite new Windows 11 features and how to use them — along with everything we wanted to see in Windows 11 but didn’t get.
Windows 10 vs. Windows 11: Every big difference in the new OS
Design and interface
Windows 11 brings a brand new, more Mac-like interface to the OS. It features a clean design with rounded corners and pastel shades. The iconic Start menu also moves to the center of the screen along with the Taskbar. But you can move those back to the left if you prefer, as they are in Windows 10.
Android app integration
Android apps will be coming to Windows 11, and installable from within the new Microsoft Store, via the Amazon Appstore. (There were a couple of ways to access Android apps on Windows 10, including if you had a Samsung Galaxy phone, but this will make it native.) This is something Windows users have been waiting for for years, and marks another move toward the merging of mobile and laptop devices.
Better virtual desktop support
Windows 11 will let you set up virtual desktops in a way that’s more similar to Macs, toggling between multiple desktops at once for personal, work, school or gaming use. In Windows 10, this was harder to set up and use.
Easier transition from monitor to laptop
The new OS includes features called Snap Groups and Snap Layouts — collections of the apps you’re using at once that sit in the taskbar, and can come up or be minimized at the same time for easier task switching. They also let you plug and unplug from a monitor more easily, without losing where your open windows are located.
Microsoft Teams added to the Taskbar
Teams is getting a facelift and will be integrated directly into the Windows 11 taskbar, making it easier to access (and a bit more like Apple’s FaceTime). You’ll be able to access teams from Windows, Mac, Android or iOS.
Widgets (well, sort of)
While they’ve been around for a while (remember desktop gadgets on Windows Vista?), including in a recent Windows 10 update, you can now access widgets directly from the Taskbar and personalize them to see whatever you’d like.
Enhanced touchscreen, voice and pen support
For tablets, Microsoft has aimed to improve the experience for touch, with more space between icons on the taskbar, and adding gestures. Windows 11 also adds haptics to your digital pen, so you can hear and feel vibrations as you use it for taking notes or drawing. Finally, the OS introduces voice typing and commands across the system.
Xbox tech to improve gaming
Windows 11 will get certain features found in Xbox consoles, like Auto HDR and DirectStorage, to improve gaming on your Windows PC. This marks another move toward integrating PCs and Xbox consoles for Microsoft.
For more, check out everything we know about Windows 11, and how to download Windows 11 once it’s available.