**DISCLOSURE: While I am contracted to Microsoft Corporation, I am not an employee. The articles that I write are not meant to represent the company, nor are they meant to represent me as an employee or spokesman for the company. As has always been the case, all articles on this website represent me and nobody else.
I have spent the last three weeks telling people that I know nothing about any future version of Windows that might be in the works. On Thursday, with the rest of the world, I got to watch the live stream of Panos Panay and the team announcing it… and showing us some of the great features that will be inside the new OS.
I have been using Microsoft Windows since 1986. It is hard to believe, but that is when I first ran Windows 1.0 on my PC-XT computer. I also remember saying that the 8-bit 8088 CPU was enough for anything that I would need… but then, the 13-year-old me did not have the vision for the potential that the Windows environment (it was another decade before it would be an OS) had.
So they lied to us. When Microsoft released Windows 10 they told us that it was the last desktop operating system they would release. On the one hand, it is easy to see that as marketing and not a technical promise. On the other, it is not difficult to look at Windows 11 as a feature update to Windows 10, a new version of the same operating system (as they have released a new version twice per year, every year since the release), but with a different name. The scuttlebutt is that:
If your existing Windows 10 PC is running the most current version of Windows 10 and meets the minimum hardware specifications it will be able to upgrade to Windows 11. The upgrade rollout plan is still being finalized, but for most devices already in use today, we expect it to be ready sometime in early 2022. Not all Windows 10 PCs that are eligible to upgrade to Windows 11 will be offered to upgrade at the same time. To see if your PC is eligible to upgrade, download and run the PC Health Check app. Once the upgrade rollout has started, you can check if it is ready for your device by going to Settings/Windows Updates.
Okay, so whether it is a new OS, or a continuation of the existing OS matters little. I am told that if you are running Windows 7 there is no update path, that if your Windows 7 hardware supports Windows 11, you will need to perform a fresh install. I do not begrudge them that – Windows 7 has not been supported for over a year, and building the upgrade path would be fraught with landmines because of that.
I will say this: Windows 11 looks cool. While I do not care about the gaming features (which are extensive) of the OS, I do like the look-and-feel, the improved battery life, the new snap screen features, and more that they showed us. I am not planning to download and test any bootleg versions, but when it does become available, I will beta test it on my Surface Laptop 3. It looks like a great new OS… and I am sure that over the next couple of months you will start seeing a lot of new articles on the subject in this space!