The first preview of Windows 11 is now available

Microsoft today released the first preview build of Windows 11 to those in the Dev Channel of the company’s Windows Insider program. If you have joined the Insider program and meet Microsoft’s new — and somewhat complicated — system requirements for the new operating system, you should see the update soon.

This first preview includes most of the new features Microsoft has promised for Windows 11, including the new look and feel, themes, widgets, the new snap layouts and the updated File Explorer. But there are also some features that didn’t yet make the cut for this first release. Support for Android apps and the new built-in Teams integration, for example, are coming in a later release, but a preview of the new Windows Store is already available today.

Otherwise, though, you’ll get to try out the new Start menu for example (and fret not, you will be able to move the start button to the bottom-left if you don’t like the centered look — but you won’t be able to move the entire taskbar to another side of the screen). And while the Start menu is an iconic part of the Windows experience, most power users probably never use it and instead use their keyboard or the taskbar to start 99% of their applications. Still, Microsoft is trying to do something different here with its new “recommended” section that highlights newly installed apps and recently used files.

windows 11 file explorer

Image Credits: Microsoft

Another new feature you’ll likely spot right away is the new File Explorer, which now does away with the ribbon-style menu in favor of a flatter look (Microsoft calls it a ‘command bar’) and new, more modern icons across the board. It looks good, but we’ll have to give it a try to see if it hasn’t lost a lot of functionality in the process.

The File Explorer, just like every other app in WIndows 11, will also feature support for Microsoft’s new Snap layouts, which take the existing ‘snapping’ gesture or keyboard shortcuts in Windows that let you snap windows to any side of the screen and brings it to the maximize button. While the overall functionality isn’t new here, I’m pretty sure that a lot of Windows users never knew it existed, so this new feature will introduce window snapping to a lot more users.

Windows 11 widgets

Image Credits: Microsoft

The new widgets, too, are now prominently highlighted in the taskbar. Right now, there are calendar, weather, local traffic, Microsoft To Do and stocks widgets, as well widgets that show you recent photos from OneDrive and sports and esports news if that’s your thing. There’s also a personalized news feed.

The last new feature worth mentioning here is the new Settings menu. Ever since the ill-fated Windows 8, Windows essentially had two settings menus (the Control Panel and Settings). It looks like those confusing days aren’t over just yet, but the new Settings menu at least looks a lot cleaner than the existing one in Windows 10.

windows 11 settings

There are, of course, plenty of other changes in Windows 11. This is definitely more than just another bi-annual Windows 10 update with a few minor UI changes. Now we’ll just have to see how all of this works in the real world — though keep in mind that this is still an early release. The preview is now rolling out to Insiders, so we’ll likely hear more about how it performs soon. We’ll also put it through its paces in the coming days.

 

Microsoft announces Windows 11, generally available by the holidays

After weeks of leaks and hype, Microsoft today officially announced Windows 11, the next version of its desktop operating system. While the company may have once said that Windows 10 was the last version of Windows, forgoing major point launches for a regular cadence of bi-annual upgrades, but it clearly believes that the changes — and especially the redesigned user interface — in this update warrant a new version number.

Microsoft plans to release Windows 11 to the general public by the holidays, so we can probably expect it sometime around late November. Before that, we’ll likely see a slew of public betas, starting next week. It’ll be a free update to Windows 10 users.

If you followed along with the development and eventual demise of Windows 10X, Microsoft’s operating system with a simplified user interface for dual- and (eventually) single-screen laptops, a lot of what you’re seeing here will feel familiar, down to the redesigned Start menu. Indeed, if somebody showed you screenshots of Windows 11 and early previews of Windows 10X, you’d have a hard time telling them apart.

Image Credits: Microsoft

As Microsoft Chief Product Officer Panos Panay noted in today’s announcement, the overall idea behind the design is to make you feel “an incredible sense of calm,” but at the same time, the Windows team has also worked to make it a lot faster. Windows Updates, for example, are supposed to be 40 percent faster, but Panay also noted that starting up your machine and even browsing should feel much faster.

Image Credits: Microsoft

One surprise feature here is that you will now also be able to run Android apps on Windows. These apps will seem like native apps that can be integrated into the taskbar, for example. These apps will be in the redesigned Microsoft Store, via — you want to sit down for this — the Amazon Appstore. Didn’t see that coming, did you?

Image Credits: Microsoft

Besides the new user interface, which makes copious use of translucency and shadows and new features for touch screen users, one of the core new UI features is what Microsoft calls Snap Layouts, which pops up a small widget when you hover over the icon that maximizes your window to allow you to move the window to any corner, something that previously involved dragging your window to the corner of your screen (which was often hard when you used multiple screens).

Image Credits: Microsoft

Another major new feature is that Windows 11 will come with Teams built-in from the outset. It’s no secret that Microsoft is bullish when it comes to Teams. It recently launched the consumer version of Teams, so it makes sense to now bring it to Windows 11, too. It’s worth noting that Microsoft never brought Skype to Windows, so this is quite a change, but it basically makes Teams Microsoft’s Facetime.

Image Credits: Microsoft

If you saw the Windows 11 leaks, you know that web widgets are one of the more visible new features. “Windows widgets is a new, personalized feed, powered by AI, serving you curated content,” Panay said. Widgets aren’t a new thing, of course, and in many ways, they make up for the removal of Live Tiles in the Start Menu. They’ll also give developers a new canvas to surface information from their applications.

Image Credits: Microsoft

This wouldn’t be a new Windows without Microsoft talking about gaming, of course. The company argues that Windows 11 will “deliver the best PC gaming experience yet,” but what else would they say?

Image Credits: Microsoft

Microsoft promises better graphics thanks to Auto HDR, a feature that’s already available on Xbox. Thousands of games, Microsoft says, will be automatically enhanced with Auto HDR on Windows 11. In addition, the company argues that thanks to a new storage API in Windows 11, games will be able to quickly load game assets without bogging down the CPU (but it’ll take a compatible PC to do so). Oh, and Microsoft’s Game Pass subscription will be built right into Windows 11, too.

Image Credits: Microsoft

As expected, there will be a new Microsoft Store, too, which Panay said was built from the ground up for speed (because speed was what people were complaining about?). Panay argues that Microsoft wants to help developers bring more of their applications to the store. One area where Microsoft is obviously trying to set itself apart from Apple is that it will allow developers to use their own commerce engine in their apps and that Microsoft will not take any cut from that.

Image Credits: Microsoft

Indeed, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said that he wants developers to have the opportunity to build their own platforms on Windows 11. “Windows is the stage for the world’s creation,” he said. “With this new version of Windows, we are unleashing the innovation and ingenuity inherent in each of us. […] Today, the world needs a more open platform – one that allows apps to become platforms in their own rights. Windows is the platform where things that are bigger than Windows can be born — like the web. That’s our aspiration with Windows 11.”

Microsoft starts testing a new news reading experience in Windows 10

Microsoft announced its latest Windows 10 preview build today and while that is a pretty routine affair these days, the company also used today’s announcement to also launch the beta version of a new news consumption experience that anybody on a Windows 10 device can try out today. The Microsoft News Bar aggregates news from the 4,500 publishers in the Microsoft News network and then displays those as a semi-persistent bar on any side of your screen.

Windows 10 has long featured the Microsoft News app, which is more of a fully-features news reading experience (though I admit I always forget it even exists). The idea behind the News Bar is to give you a news ticker that is either always visible or that you can hide away at will. In order to make sure you don’t forget it, you can choose to have it pop back up in either two or eight hours — or never, if you’re seriously tired of the news right now. Nobody would blame you.

Right now, this is a pretty barebones affair, without the ability to really personalize the news you see beyond the country you are in. What you can do is select some stocks you want to monitor and over time, Microsoft will add weather and sports options (hopefully with the ability to turn off sports news, because who cares, right?). It’d be nice to at least get some sense of what’s breaking news in the news bar, but as of now, there are no timestamps attached to the updates.

If you’ve been around long enough, you may remember Windows Active Desktop, PointCast and Wired’s (in)famous Push cover story. Somehow this Microsoft News Bar feels a bit reminiscent of that and it seems a bit old-school to have a moving ticker on your desktop in 2020. But if that’s your style, you can now give this new experience a try by downloading the application from the Microsoft Store.

Windows 10 passes 10% market share, overtakes Windows 8.1 and Windows XP

Windows 10

Six months after its release, Windows 10 has finally passed 10 percent market share. Not only that, but the latest and greatest version from Microsoft has also overtaken Windows 8.1 and Windows XP, according to the latest figures from Net Applications.

Windows 10 was installed on over 75 million PCs in its first four weeks, and passed 110 million after 10 weeks. Last month, Windows 10 passed 200 million active devices — Microsoft is aiming for 1 billion devices running Windows 10 “in two to three years”.

Windows 10 had 9.96 percent market share in December, and gained 1.89 percentage points to hit 11.85 percent in January. Aside from its first month, Windows 10 has gained about 1 percentage point each month, though December was particularly strong, likely due to holiday sales. Later this year, Microsoft plans to make Windows 10 a “recommended update” so that Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users are even more likely to install it.

os_market_share_january_2016

Windows 8 dipped 0.08 percentage points to 2.68 percent while Windows 8.1 regained 0.10 points to 10.40 percent. Together, they owned 13.08 percent of the market at the end of January. The duo will fall below the 10 percent mark this year, despite having never even passed the 20 percent market-share mark (the peak was 16.45 percent in May 2015).

Before Windows 10’s debut, Windows 7 passed the 60 percent market-share mark in June. It started 2016 at 52.47 percent, down a whopping 3.21 points.

Despite Windows 10’s inevitable rise, Windows 7 will likely keep its title of “most popular OS” for a long time. Windows 7 overtook Windows XP way back in September 2012. It will likely fall under the 50 percent mark this year, but is unlikely to fall much more than that.

Windows Vista managed to gain 0.07 points to 1.69 percent, and Windows XP also somehow rebounded 0.49 points to 11.42 percent. The free upgrade to Windows 10 doesn’t apply to Vista or XP, but this is still an unfortunate start to the year. Microsoft was likely hoping XP would see single market-share digits by now, given that the company ended support for the ancient operating system in April 2014.

On the whole, Windows slipped 0.71 points to 90.61 percent in December. Those losses were, of course, direct gains for Mac OS X and Linux, which were up 0.66 points and 0.05 points to 7.68 percent and 1.71 percent, respectively.

Net Applications uses data captured from 160 million unique visitors each month, by monitoring some 40,000 websites for its clients. This means it measures user market share.

If you prefer usage market share, you’ll want to get your data from StatCounter, which looks at 15 billion page views every month. The operating system figures for December are available here.










Windows 10 ends 2015 under 10% market share

Windows 10

Check out all of our GamesBeat Rewind 2015 end of the year coverage here.

9.96 percent. Close, but no cigar. Five months after its release, Windows 10 still hasn’t passed 10 percent market share, according to the latest figures from Net Applications.

Windows 10 was installed on over 75 million PCs in its first four weeks, and passed 110 million after 10 weeks. While we don’t have a more recent figure yet (we expect an update very soon), Microsoft is aiming for 1 billion devices running Windows 10 “in two to three years” — though that includes not just PCs, but smartphones, consoles, and other devices as well.

Windows 10 had 9.00 percent market share in November, and gained 0.96 percentage points to hit 9.96 percent in December. Growth has slowed a lot over the last few months: Windows 10 jumped almost 5 percentage points in its first month, but has only gained a little over 1 point each month since. In December, that figure was less than 1 point. This year, Microsoft will be attempting to counter that slowdown, starting with making Windows 10 a “recommended update” so that Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users are more likely to install it.

os_market_share_december_2015

The good news in December is that Windows 10’s predecessors slipped a bit. Windows 8 dipped 0.12 percentage points to 2.76 percent, while Windows 8.1 fell 0.85 points to 10.30 percent. Together, they owned 13.06 percent of the market at the end of December. The duo will fall below the 10 percent mark this year, despite having never even passed the 20 percent market share mark (the peak was 16.45 percent in May).

Before Windows 10’s debut, Windows 7 passed the 60 percent market share mark in June. It ended the year down 0.43 points to 55.68 percent.

Despite Windows 10’s inevitable rise, Windows 7 will likely keep its title of most popular OS for a long time. Windows 7 overtook Windows XP way back in September 2012. It will likely fall under the 50 percent mark this year, but unlikely much more than that.

Windows Vista managed to gain 0.01 points to 1.62 percent and Windows XP also somehow rebounded 0.34 points to 10.93 percent. The free upgrade to Windows 10 doesn’t apply to Vista or XP, but this is still an unfortunate end to the year. Microsoft was likely hoping XP would see single market share digits by now, given that it ended support for the ancient operating system in April 2014.

On the whole, Windows slipped 0.07 points to 91.32 percent in December. Those losses were of course direct gains for Mac OS X and Linux gains, which were up 0.03 points and 0.04 points to 7.02 percent and 1.66 percent respectively.

Net Applications uses data captured from 160 million unique visitors each month, by monitoring some 40,000 websites for its clients. This means it measures user market share.

If you prefer usage market share, you’ll want to get your data from StatCounter, which looks at 15 billion page views every month. The operating system figures for December are available here.










Microsoft Releases New Windows 10 Mobile Build, Promises Free Upgrades For 8.1 Users In 2016

A Windows 10 sign on Microsoft's campus. Two quick hits from the world of Microsoft before you head off and plunge your upper body in eggnog: A new Windows 10 Mobile build is out for users on both the Fast and Slow rings of the Insider program, and, if you are a regular Windows Phone user running 8.1, you won’t get new code until the new year, a retread of prior timing promises. In sequence, I think. Out today is the… Read More

Windows 10 hits 9% market share, El Capitan takes first among OS X versions

Windows 10

Even with free upgrades, Windows 10 adoption has significantly slowed down. After four months, Windows 10 has captured just 9 percent market share, according to the latest figures from Net Applications.

Windows 10 was installed on over 75 million PCs in its first four weeks, and passed 110 million after 10 weeks. While we don’t have a more recent figure yet, Microsoft is aiming to have 1 billion devices running Windows 10 “in two to three years” — though that includes not just PCs, but smartphones, consoles, and other devices, as well.

Windows 10 had 7.94 percent market share in October, and gained 1.06 percentage points to hit 9.00 percent in November. Growth has dramatically slowed already: Windows 10 jumped almost 5 percentage points in its first month, but has only gained a little over 1 point each month since. In the hopes of countering this slowdown, Microsoft has announced a Baidu partnership to push Windows 10 in China, as well as a plan to make Windows 10 a “recommended update,” which would make Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users more likely to install it.

os_market_share_november_2015

What’s curious is that in November, Windows 10’s predecessors did not slip as in previous months. Windows 8 managed to regain 0.34 percentage points to 2.88 percent, while Windows 8.1 grabbed another 0.47 points to 11.15 percent. Together, they owned 14.03 percent of the market at the end of October. Still, the duo will fall below the 10 percent mark next year, despite having never even passed the 20 percent market share mark (the peak was 16.45 percent in May).

Before Windows 10’s debut, Windows 7 passed the 60 percent market share mark in June. It’s also unlikely to ever to see that figure again, though it did manage to gain 0.40 points to 56.11 percent.

Despite Windows 10’s inevitable rise, Windows 7 will likely keep its title of most popular OS for a long time. Windows 7 overtook Windows XP way back in September 2012 and has never looked back, steadily increasing its share. At this point, it doesn’t even look ready to fall under the 50 percent mark.

Windows Vista slipped 0.13 points to 1.61 percent, while Windows XP fell 1.09 points to 10.59 percent. The free upgrade to Windows 10 doesn’t apply to Vista or XP, but Microsoft is likely still hoping XP sees single market share digits this year, as businesses are still reacting to the operating system’s end of support in April 2014.

On the whole, Windows gained a bit of share in November, up 0.97 points to 91.39 percent. Mac OS X fell 1.01 points to 6.99 percent, while Linux gained 0.05 points to 1.62 percent.

mac_market_share_november_2015

The silver lining for Mac users is that OS X El Capitan, released just two months ago, is now king of all OS X versions. In October, OS X 10.10 was first with 3.45 percent market share and OS X 10.11 had 2.18 percent. In November, they swapped places: OS X 10.12 had 2.66 percent and OS X 10.10 fell to 2.45 percent.

Net Applications uses data captured from 160 million unique visitors each month, by monitoring some 40,000 websites for its clients. This means it measures user market share.

If you prefer usage market share, you’ll want to get your data from StatCounter, which looks at 15 billion page views every month. The operating system figures for November are available here.

More information:

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Windows 10 grabs 7.94% market share, slowly stealing from Windows 7 and XP

Windows 10

Microsoft’s free Windows 10 upgrade isn’t winning over as many users as the company probably would have hoped. After three months, Windows 10 has captured almost 8 percent market share, according to the latest figures from Net Applications.

Windows 10 was installed on over 75 million PCs in the first four weeks, and passed 110 million after 10 weeks. While we don’t have a more recent figure yet, Microsoft is aiming to have 1 billion devices running Windows 10 “in two to three years,” though that includes not just PCs, but smartphones, consoles, and other devices, as well.

Windows 10 had 6.63 percent market share in September, and gained 1.31 percentage points to hit 7.94 percent in October. Growth has dramatically slowed already: Windows 10 jumped almost 5 percentage points in its first month, while it only gained a little over 1 point in the second and third months each. To counter this slowdown, Microsoft has announced a Baidu partnership to push Windows 10 in China as well as plan to make Windows 10 a “recommended update” that makes it more likely for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users to install it.

os_market_share_october_2015

Where Windows 10 gained, its predecessors naturally slipped. Windows 8 dipped 0.06 percentage points to 2.54 percent, while Windows 8.1 fell 0.04 points to 10.68 percent. Together, they owned 13.22 percent of the market at the end of October. Next year, the duo will fall below the 10 percent mark, which is a little crazy given it never even passed the 20 percent market share mark (the peak was 16.45 percent in May).

Before Windows 10’s debut, Windows 7 passed the 60 percent market share mark in June. It’s also unlikely to ever to see that figure again: Windows 7 saw the biggest drop of any operating system version in August, down 0.82 points to 55.71 percent.

Despite Windows 10’s inevitable rise, Windows 7 will likely keep its title as the most popular OS for a long time. Windows 7 overtook Windows XP way back in September 2012, and has never looked back, steadily increasing its share. In October, Windows 7 finally fell below where it was at the beginning of 2015 (55.92 percent in January).

Windows Vista gained 0.01 points to 1.74 percent while Windows XP fell 0.53 points to 11.68 percent. The free upgrade to Windows 10 doesn’t apply to Vista or XP, but Microsoft is likely still hoping XP sees single market share digits this year, as businesses are still reacting to the operating system’s end of support in April 2014.

On the whole, Windows lost a bit of share in August, down 0.12 points to 90.42 percent. Mac OS X and gained 0.28 points to 8.00 percent while Linux fell 0.17 points to 1.57 percent.

Net Applications uses data captured from 160 million unique visitors each month by monitoring some 40,000 websites for its clients. This means it measures user market share.

If you prefer usage market share, you’ll want to get your data from StatCounter, which looks at 15 billion page views every month. The operating system figures for October are available here.

More information:

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Windows 10 grabs 6.63% market share, Linux finally passes Windows Vista

Windows 10

Unsurprisingly, Microsoft’s free Windows 10 upgrade had a bigger impact in the first month than in the second. Windows 10 has now captured more than 6 percent market share, according to the latest figures from Net Applications.

After four weeks, Windows 10 was installed on over 75 million PCs. While we don’t have an update yet for the two-month mark, Microsoft is aiming to have 1 billion devices running Windows 10 “in two to three years,” though that includes not just PCs, but smartphones, consoles, and other devices as well.

Windows 10 had 5.21 percent market share in August, and gained 1.42 percentage points to hit 6.63 percent in September. We weren’t expecting as big a jump as we saw in August, but growth has indeed slowed dramatically in Windows 10’s second month. It’s too early to say if this slowdown is permanent, but we doubt it — especially with Microsoft’s Baidu partnership to push Windows 10 in China.

os_market_share_september_2015

Unsurprisingly, Windows 10’s predecessors are worse off. Windows 8 gained 0.04 percentage points to 2.60 percent, while Windows 8.1 fell 0.67 points to 10.72 percent. Together, they owned 13.32 percent of the market at the end of September, down from 13.95 percent at the end of July. As we noted last month, the duo never even passed the 20 percent market share mark (they peaked at 16.45 percent in May), and with Windows 10 now available, they never will.

Before Windows 10’s debut, Windows 7 passed the 60 percent market share mark in June. It’s also likely never to see that figure again: Windows 7 saw the biggest drop of any operating system version in August, down 1.14 points to 56.53 percent.


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Despite Windows 10’s inevitable rise, Windows 7 will likely keep its title as the most popular OS for at least this year. Windows 7 overtook Windows XP way back in September 2012, and has never looked back, steadily increasing its share even throughout 2015 (it’s still up overall from 55.92 percent in January).

Windows Vista meanwhile slipped 0.09 points to 1.73 percent. Windows XP somehow managed to gain 0.07 points to 12.21 percent. The free upgrade to Windows 10 doesn’t apply to Vista or XP, so it’s no surprise we’re not seeing large drops there. That said, Microsoft is likely still hoping XP sees single market share digits this year, as businesses are still reacting to the operating system’s end of support in April 2014.

On the whole, Windows lost a bit of share in August, down 0.30 points to 90.54 percent. Mac OS X and Linux in turn capitalized, gaining 0.19 points to 7.72 percent and 0.11 points to 1.74 percent, respectively.

Amusingly enough, this means Linux has managed to pass Windows Vista again. This hasn’t been the case for years, believe it or not.

Net Applications uses data captured from 160 million unique visitors each month by monitoring some 40,000 websites for its clients. This means it measures user market share.

If you prefer usage market share, you’ll want to get your data from StatCounter, which looks at 15 billion page views every month. The operating system figures for August are available here.

More information:

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