Microsoft to Make PCs More Extensible with Windows 11

Windows 11 will run Android apps via the Amazon Appstore.

Jeffrey Schwartz

June 25, 2021

11 Slides

The PC partner ecosystem will receive a major boost later this year when Microsoft delivers Windows 11. During an online event on Thursday, Microsoft previewed a revamp of Windows that is more extensible for partners and users.

Windows 11 will include native Microsoft Teams integration, support for customized widgets and will run Android apps. A simplified user interface Windows 11 aims to be more intuitive and consistent in both desktop and tablet modes.

The upgraded Windows will coincide with the rollout of a rebuilt and expanded Microsoft Store. Microsoft said the new app store is more secure and easier to search. Like Windows 11, the new Microsoft Store will also extensible.

Not only will it host modern Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps, but also Win32 applications and Progressive Web Apps (PWA). Customers can also find Android apps hosted in Amazon’s Appstore via the new Microsoft Store. The two companies announced a partnership associated with the event to bring the Amazon AppStore to Windows 11 devices.

The overhauled OS will be the first major upgrade of Windows in six years when Microsoft released Windows 10. Back then, Microsoft had indicated it would be the last major upgrade, replaced by twice yearly incremental updates. But the pandemic resulted in renewed demand for PCs. It appears Microsoft is seeking to ensure Windows remains relevant amid growth of Chromebooks and Macs.


Microsoft’s Satya Nadella

“This is the first version of a new era of Windows, were building it for the next decade and beyond,” said Microsoft chairman and CEO Satya Nadella during the launch event. “We are reimagining everything from the operating system itself to the browser to the store and the feed.”

Simplified User Interface

The most visible change in Windows 11 is a more simplified desktop. The Windows 11 Taskbar, which includes the Start menu icon, is now centered. It uses the cloud to surface files most recently used, regardless of which device a user last worked on. It also allows custom desktop experiences for different scenarios such as work, home and gaming.


Microsoft’s Panos Panay

Panos Panay, chief product officer for Microsoft’s Windows and Devices group, said Windows 11 will arrive by December’s holiday season. Microsoft will offer Windows 11 as a free upgrade for “eligible Windows 10 PCs” at that time.

Partners and customers that want to test early builds can access them in Microsoft’s Windows Insider Program. Microsoft will release the first Windows 11 build to Windows Insiders starting next week. Windows 11 will work on CPUs produced by its three key OEM partners Intel, AMD and Qualcomm. Panay expects major PC OEMs to roll out new Windows 11 devices including Dell, HP, Lenovo, Acer, Asus and Samsung.

Here’s our most recent list of new products and services that agents, VARs, MSPs and other partners offer.


Microsoft’s Nicole Dezen

Besides OEMs, Windows 11 will offer opportunities for the broad Microsoft ecosystem, according to Nicole Dezen, the company’s VP of partner device sales. In a blog, she noted that ISVs can embrace the new Windows 11 API platform to build new apps. Dezen noted that customers will also be calling on global systems integrators (GSIs) and those who provide channel sales and managed services to help them phase in and manage Windows 11.

“Together with our partners, we’re ready to seize the moment, and make this a great year for the Windows ecosystem and our joint customers,” Dezen said in her post. Dezen also noted that Microsoft will be discussing Windows 11 opportunities for partners at next month’s Microsoft Inspire event.

Microsoft said upgrading devices to Windows 11 can be performed just like a Windows 10 release update. Microsoft said Windows 11 is compatible with management and security tools including Microsoft Endpoint Manager, Windows Update for Business and Autopilot.

Also, Microsoft said it will fix any application compatibility issues for customers with 150 or more users through its App Assure service.

Scroll through the gallery above to see 11 new features Windows 11 will offer.


Want to contact the author directly about this story? Have ideas for a follow-up article? Email Jeffrey Schwartz or connect with him on LinkedIn.



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About the Author(s)

Jeffrey Schwartz

Jeffrey Schwartz has covered the IT industry for nearly three decades, most recently as editor-in-chief of Redmond magazine and executive editor of Redmond Channel Partner. Prior to that, he held various editing and writing roles at CommunicationsWeek, InternetWeek and VARBusiness (now CRN) magazines, among other publications.

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