Windows 11 vs Windows 10: What’s different in Microsoft’s new operating system

Windows 11 brings more than just design changes. Keep an eye out for these updates.

Microsoft/Screenshot by Sarah Tew/CNET

Windows 11, the latest version of Microsoft’s operating system, has started its gradual rollout to compatible devices last fall. Even if your PC has not been prompted to download and install the new operating system However, you can still take a look at how Windows 11 is measured against Windows 10 to adjust if it’s worth the update. Keep in mind that there is no rush to make your decision. Microsoft says it will stop supporting Windows 10 after 2025. Also, if you already own Windows 10, Windows 11 will be available for free. (If you you don’t have Windows 10 yet, here’s how to get it.)

Before installing the new operating system, let’s take a look at the big changes Microsoft has made and what’s actually different. And be sure to check our favorite Windows 11 features and how to use them, everything we wanted in Windows 11 but didn’t get and how set your default search engine.

Read more: Windows 11 is here, does that mean I should buy a new laptop?

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Windows 10 vs. Windows 11: Every Big Difference in the New OS

Design and interfaces


Windows 11 features a new design with a centered Start menu and taskbar.

Microsoft/Screenshot by Sarah Tew/CNET

Windows 11 brings a whole new Mac-like interface to the operating system. It features a clean design with rounded corners and pastel tones. the iconic start menu also moves to the center of the screen with the taskbar. But you can move them to the leftlike in Windows 10, if you prefer.

Android app integration


You will be able to download Android apps to your PC running Windows 11.

Microsoft/Screenshot by Sarah Tew/CNET

Android apps will come to Windows 11 (but not immediately) in Microsoft Store, through the Amazon Appstore. (There were several ways to access Android apps on Windows 10, including if you had a samsung galaxy phone, but it will make it native.) It’s something Windows users have been waiting for years and marks another step towards merging mobile and handheld devices. This feature is now in beta and available to Windows Insiders

Better support for virtual desktops


You will find it easier to create and switch between different virtual desktops in Windows 11 compared to Windows 10.

Microsoft/Screenshot by Sarah Tew/CNET

Windows 11 will let you configure virtual desktops in a manner similar to Macs. It lets you switch between multiple desktops at once for personal, work, school, or gaming. In Windows 10, this was more difficult to configure and use.

Easier transition from monitor to laptop


It will be easier to group different sets of windows and applications and switch from desktop to monitor with Snap Layouts and Snap Groups.

Microsoft/Screenshot by Sarah Tew/CNET

The new operating system includes features called Snap Groups and Snap Layouts – collections of applications that you use simultaneously that are located in the taskbar and can appear or be minimized at the same time for easy task switching. They also allow you to easily plug and unplug a monitor, without losing where your open windows are.

Microsoft Teams added to taskbar


Microsoft Teams is built right into the Windows 11 taskbar to make video calling easy.

Microsoft/Screenshot by Sarah Tew/CNET

Teams gets a makeover and will be integrated directly into the Windows 11 taskbar, making it easier to access (and a bit more like Apple’s FaceTime). You will be able to access Teams from Windows, Mac, Android or iOS.

Widgets (well, sort of)


Launch widgets from the Windows 11 taskbar to see weather, news, stocks and more at a glance.

Microsoft/Screenshot by Josh Goldman/CNET

Although they’ve been around for a while (remember desktop gadgets on Windows Vista?), including in a recent Windows 10 updateyou can now access widgets directly from the taskbar and customize them to see what you want.

Improved touchscreen, voice and pen support


Microsoft aims to make Windows 11 easier to use on tablets than Windows 10.

Microsoft/Screenshot by Sarah Tew/CNET

For tablets, Microsoft has sought to improve the touch experience, with more space between taskbar icons and the addition of gestures. Windows 11 also adds haptics to your digital pen, so you can hear and feel the vibrations when you use it to take notes or draw. Finally, the operating system introduces voice input and commands throughout the system.

Xbox technology to improve the game


Windows 11 brings a few technological additions from Xbox for better gaming.

Microsoft/Screenshot by Sarah Tew/CNET

Windows 11 will get some features found in Xbox consoles, like Auto HDR and DirectStorage, to enhance gaming on your Windows PC. This marks another step towards integrating PCs and Xbox consoles for Microsoft.

To find out more, see everything we know about Windows 11 and how to download windows 11.

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