On Thursday, June 24, 2021, Microsoft announced that after six years of Windows 10, they would be releasing a new operating system. The announcement of Windows 11 was met with equal parts fanfare and equal parts curiosity. Why a new operating system, and why now? Most importantly, is an upgrade worth it?
A Brief History of Windows Operating Systems
As the nomenclature of the operating systems suggests, there have been ten major versions to date. The first version of Microsoft Windows was announced by Bill Gates in November 1983. By 1993, Microsoft Windows was already the most popular graphical user interface (GUI) operating system in the world. Releases were paced over an average period of three years, selling huge volumes and skyrocketing Microsoft to a near-monopoly.
Windows 10 - The Final Version of Windows
There was a lot of excitement around the release of Windows 10. The OS, Microsoft's most ambitious project, was intended to be the last major upgrade for Windows. The reason for this was because the logistical challenges of releasing major OS upgrades were losing their worth, especially when coupled with the fact that most updates could be delivered smoothly through the internet in a healthier cycle.
Why Windows 11?
And so, given the history and intention behind Windows 10, does the Windows 11 announcement mean that Microsoft is going back on its word? Well, the answer is yes and no. Although the release of Windows 11 will ensure that Windows 10 is no longer the "final version" of Windows, the upgrade is more innocuous than it would appear.
Was a Whole New Operating System Necessary?
From a software engineering point of view, it's highly unlikely that a new OS was necessary. However, there are certain reasons why Microsoft executives may have thought it prudent to green-light the project. For one, the entire company can benefit from the publicity. Even though Microsoft is doing fine business-wise, more headline domination will detract a little from competitors and go a long way to boost shareholder confidence.
What's Special About Windows 11?
Previous iterations of the Windows OS presented significant leaps from their predecessors. At first, the three-year average between them meant that computer science had advanced far enough for each improvement to be meaningful. However, as time went on, this ceased to be the case. And so, despite how different Windows 11 looks on the front end, the back end is likely to be similar to Windows 10.
User Interface Redesign
The major selling point of Windows 11 is the user interface redesign. The colors and themes are much more grey, and the start menu and taskbar have been redesigned. There's also a greater emphasis on using widgets. In addition, it's easier to handle different tasks across multiple desktops.
Android App Usage
Another major selling point is that you can now run android apps on your Windows OS. This is an exciting feature for both developers and users. Developers now have a wider audience for their products. Users can also experience their favorite apps in new, exciting, and more comfortable ways.
These aren't the only features new to Windows 11. However, these are the most eye-catching.
Should You Upgrade to Windows 11?
You may be wondering why this question is even a necessity in the first place. Well, if history has taught us anything, it's that inopportune computer updates can really mess things up. The leap between various versions of an OS can be disorienting at best and crippling at worst. And so users, particularly those who rely on their computers to conduct their business, need to be careful about the timing of these upgrades.
As has been pointed out above, there are unlikely to be any major backend changes in Windows 11. As such, installing the new OS has a low probability of breaking anything or causing crashes. However, the UI update is a significant change. Regardless, it has been designed to be as intuitive to grasp as possible. After a few days of use, navigating it should become second nature.
Nevertheless, it’s always a good idea to be proactive when it comes to your technology. Remembering to back up your computer regularly could make all the difference in case of an accident. Just be sure to double check with your IT department or IT provider if it’s a business device.