If you missed the memo, Microsoft will be announcing the next version of Windows during a glamorous event today. Despite promises that Windows 10 would be “the last” version of the desktop operating system, Microsoft appears to have changed its mind.
Windows 11 seems to really shake things up. Based on what we’ve seen from the leaks circulating online, the new desktop operating system will ditch the sharp edges and straight lines found in Windows 10 in favor of softer curves and rounded corners. Every app and system icon has been redesigned so that everything looks like one piece – which is definitely not the case if you dive deep enough into Windows 10’s File Explorer or Control Panel.
There is also a panel of interactive widgets that can be swiped over anything you do on the screen. These little widgets can track stock prices, display headlines from news websites, present the forecast for the next few days, and much more. It is unclear whether you can interact with these widgets or whether clicking on them will launch the corresponding app.
These widgets seem to replace the live tiles that were on the Windows 10 Start menu and show some information from the app on the icon itself – saving you a click if you wanted to quickly check the weather.
But it’s the Start menu that’s the biggest change in Windows 11. With Windows 11, Microsoft looks like the Start menu is centered on the taskbar at the bottom of the screen. The rounded corners found throughout the operating system also made the cut in the new Start menu, which pops up when you click in the center of your screen. A grid of 18 pinned apps forms the upper half of the new start menu design, while the lower half is taken with recommendations from Microsoft.
So let’s get to the brass tax … what will it all cost.
Windows 11: Can you download and install Windows 11 for free?
With all of the work that has gone into the new design and new features, one could assume that Microsoft will be charging a handsome fee for Windows 11. However, we have reason to believe that it will not. At least not at first.
A leaked version of Windows 11 that surfaced online ahead of the event seems to confirm that Windows 11 will be a free upgrade for anyone running a paid version of Windows 10, Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 8.1. As long as you have a valid software license on your computer, you can upgrade to the brand new operating system with a single tap.
Of course, this hasn’t been confirmed by Microsoft yet, but we expect to hear more about pricing at the event. If you’re building a new PC from scratch, we’ll assume Microsoft continues to sell brand new software licenses to download and install Windows 11. But for those running Windows 10 on their laptop, desktop, or tablet who want to get the latest version, apparently it’s treated like any other quarterly update.
Microsoft offered a similarly generous promotion after the introduction of Windows 10. This is designed to get as many people as possible on the latest version of the desktop software to avoid supporting too many versions of Windows.
It’s possible that Microsoft is taking the same approach this time around.
We’ll be sure to find out when the eagerly anticipated Windows event kicks off this afternoon, June 24th, at 11:00 a.m. Eastern Time, which works in the UK at 4:00 p.m. BST. Express.de will be in the (virtual) audience and tell you all the news directly.