With the addition of Auto HDR to make all of your games pop on the best gaming monitor, and a new DirectStorage API to cut down loading times, Windows 11 is shaping up to be the perfect OS for playing the best PC games. Support for Android apps within the operating system is coming, and it’ll be a free upgrade if your current rig is already running Windows 10.
A new OS seemed impossible just a few years ago, as Microsoft developer Jerry Nixon claimed that Windows 10 would be the “last version” back in 2015. Although the changes look pretty exciting, it won’t be as drastic a change as Windows 7 to 8 was, featuring a new centralised start menu, along with a UI reflecting the now-canned Windows 10X software.
Here’s what you need to know about Windows 11:
windows 11 release date
Microsoft says the OS will launch in the holiday season, so expect an official release around November or December. If you sign up for the Windows Insider program, you’ll be able to get access to the new version a little sooner.
windows 11 features
The operating system is taking many design cues from Windows 10X, a web-based OS that was cancelled back in May 2021.
The start menu has been centralised, although you’ll have the option to move it back to the left of the screen if old habits die hard.
The new OS also introduces auto HDR, which will automatically adjust lighting and colour within games, even if they don’t have native HDR support. The new DirectStorage API is similar to the Velocity architecture of the new Xbox Series S / X consoles, and should see loading times in games drop drastically.
Windows 11 is also adding native support for Android apps, without the need to install third-party apps such as Bluestacks.
will windows 11 be a free upgrade?
Windows 11 will be a free upgrade for Windows 10 users, when it arrives later this year. It doesn’t look like it’ll be free for current Windows 7 and 8 users, despite what an earlier leak suggested.
If your rig is on the older side, you’ll want to check it meets the Windows 11 system requirements, however. You’ll need an Intel 8th gen chip or newer, or a Ryzen 2000 or newer AMD CPU.
windows 11 price
We can’t see a copy of the new OS costing any more than the current price of Windows 10 Home ($139 / £119).
If you’re working out how to build a gaming PC, you’ll likely have to buy a new key or install Windows 10 and go the free upgrade route if you want to save a bit of cash.