September 1, 2021
Microsoft has set Oct. 5 as the release date for Windows 11. That’s when the first PCs with the operating system will ship. Likewise, Microsoft will begin releasing free Windows 11 upgrades for eligible Windows 10 PCs.
The emphasis of Microsoft’s announcement, posted on Tuesday, is that the Windows 11 release will “begin” on October 5. Microsoft is planning a staged release of Windows 11, with the rollout extending into mid-2022.
Microsoft’s Aaron Woodman
“The free upgrade to Windows 11 starts on Oct. 5 and will be phased and measured with a focus on quality,” according to the Windows 11 launch plan announcement posted by group general manager Aaron Woodman. “Following the tremendous learnings from Windows 10, we want to make sure we’re providing you with the best possible experience.”
Microsoft first revealed Windows 11 earlier this summer. It is the first major facelift to the operating system since the release of Windows 10 six years ago. When Microsoft announced Windows 11 in June, the company set the rollout for the peak fourth quarter selling season.
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Among Microsoft OEMs showcasing their first PCs available with Windows 11 are Acer, Asus, Dell, Dynabook, HP, Lenovo and Samsung. Microsoft emphasized that the Windows 11 launch date marks the beginning of an incremental rollout. Initially, only select devices will be eligible by Microsoft to run Windows 11. That also applies to customers with Windows 10 seeking to download the free upgrade.
Windows 11 Implications on Business
Like any new version of Windows, commercial and enterprises will not likely make the leap to Windows 11 right away. But that doesn’t mean IT organizations and service providers that provide desktop management won’t have to deal with Windows 11. As individuals purchase their own PCs preloaded with Windows 11, organizations will find themselves having to manage these devices. Likewise for people who take advantage of the free Windows 11 update.
Microsoft promises a more simplified user interface with Windows 11.
Microsoft has countered that Windows 11 is compatible with current Windows 10 management and security tools. Among them are Windows Autopilot, Intune, Microsoft Endpoint Manager and Windows Update for Business. Those tools don’t address how existing apps will behave with Windows 11. But Microsoft has promised to fix compatibility issues for customers with more than 150 users through its App Assure service.
Initially, only PCs that Microsoft determines are eligible can upgrade to Windows 11. Microsoft said it will make the upgrade available to users with other qualified Windows 10 devices over time. The software giant said it will make that determination based on devices that can support AI, hardware configurations, reliability metrics and the age of the PC. Microsoft last week re-released its PC Health Check app that lets users determine if their systems can support Windows 11.
Microsoft said it wants to ensure Windows 11 is only installed on PCs that can deliver the new user experience. Among the key new features of Windows 11 emphasized by Microsoft includes a redesigned desktop that is more modern. The start button and associated content and menu items are now centered on the new desktop, which also introduces Snap Layouts, Snap Groups and Desktops that aim to improve how users multitask and how they optimize their screen layouts.
Windows 11 also now includes Microsoft Teams chat integrated onto the taskbar and support for the widgets available in the Microsoft Edge browser, which lets users personalize feeds that are delivered to them. Windows 11 will also support the new Microsoft Store, which the company said makes it easier to discover apps. Also, through a new partnership with Amazon and Intel, the new Microsoft Store will eventually deliver Android apps to Windows.
Microsoft also is promising that the Windows 11 release will open new opportunities for software developers and application creators. The new Microsoft Store will let developers and ISVs bring in more of their solutions. The company also is readying new tools that it said will make it easier to develop native and web applications.
Windows 11 optimizes speed by improving support for touch, digital pens and voice input, according to Microsoft. The new operating system will also come with improved capabilities for those with disabilities or impairments.
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