Windows 11 vs Windows 10: all the updates you need to know

Windows 11 does more than just design changes. Keep an eye out for these upgrades.

Screenshot / Microsoft

Windows 11, the first major update to the Windows platform since the launch of Windows 10 in 2015, begins rolling out today. The operating system offers new interface and several features that bring Windows into a post-2020 world with more people working between home and office. For existing Windows 10 users, Windows 11 will be available as a free update – although the release is phased and some PC users will not be able to install Windows 11 until mid-2022.

This assumes, of course, that your computer is compatible. (To find if your PC will work with Windows 11 here.) If you still need to upgrade to Windows 10, don’t worry – a Windows 10 free download trick still works for many people. You can don’t even want to switch from Windows 10 to 11, and it’s good. At least until 2025, when Microsoft announces that it will no longer support Windows 10.

Before installing the new operating system, let’s go over the big changes Microsoft has made and take a look at what’s really different. Here is everything that has changed from Windows 10 to Windows 11. And be sure to check it out our favorite Windows 11 features and how to use them — in the same way everything we wanted in Windows 11 but didn’t get.

Read more: Windows 11 is coming, does that mean i should wait to buy a new laptop?


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Windows 10 vs Windows 11: all the big differences in the new operating system

Design and interface

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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 left, like in Windows 10, if you prefer.

Android application integration

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

Microsoft / Screenshot by Sarah Tew / CNET

Android apps will arrive on Windows 11 (but not right away) in Microsoft Store, via the Amazon Appstore. (There were several ways to access Android apps on Windows 10, including if you had a samsung galaxy phone, but that will make it native.) This is something Windows users have been waiting for for years, and marks another step towards the merger of mobile and portable devices.

Better support for virtual desktops

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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 set up virtual desktops in a way more similar to Macs, switching between multiple desktops at a time for personal, work, school, or gaming use. In Windows 10, it was more difficult to set up and use.

Easier transition from monitor to laptop

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It will be easier to group different sets of windows and applications and switch between desktop and 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 are using at the same time which are in the taskbar and which can appear or be collapsed at the same time to make it easier to change the task. They also make it easier for you to plug and unplug a monitor, without losing the location of your open windows.

Microsoft Teams added to taskbar

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Microsoft Teams is integrated directly into the Windows 11 taskbar to facilitate video calls.

Microsoft / Screenshot by Sarah Tew / CNET

The teams are getting a new look and will be integrated directly into the Windows 11 taskbar, which will make it easier to access (and a little more like Apple’s FaceTime). You will be able to access teams from Windows, Mac, Android or iOS.

Widgets (well, sort of)

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

Microsoft / Screenshot by Josh Goldman / CNET

While they’ve been around for quite some time (remember desktop gadgets on Windows Vista?), Including in a Windows 10 recent update, you can now access widgets directly from the taskbar and customize them to see what you want.

Improved touchscreen, voice and stylus support

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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 adding gestures. Windows 11 also adds haptics to your digital pen, so you can hear and feel the vibrations as 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

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Windows 11 brings some technological additions to the 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 a further step towards the integration of PCs and Xbox consoles for Microsoft.

For more information, see everything we know about Windows 11 and how to download windows 11.


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