You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Windows 11 vs. Windows 10: Everything Microsoft changed in the new OS

CNET logo CNET 10/15/2021 Alison DeNisco Rayome
a screen shot of a computer: Windows 11 brings a lot more than just design changes. Keep your eye out for these upgrades. Microsoft/Screenshot by Sarah Tew/CNET © Provided by CNET Windows 11 brings a lot more than just design changes. Keep your eye out for these upgrades. Microsoft/Screenshot by Sarah Tew/CNET

Microsoft's new operating system, Windows 11 (it's first big upgrade since Windows 10 in 2015), started its phased rollout earlier this month. While only some PCs received the update prompt, you can still download Windows 11 to your device now, as long as meets eligibility requirements. If you already have Windows 10, Windows 11 will be available to you as a free upgrade. But you may be wondering what's changing, and if it's worth downloading right away. Even if you don't have Windows 10 yet (you'll have to get it before you upgrade to Windows 11), it's a good question. You have at least until 2025 to make your decision, when Microsoft says it will no longer support Windows 10.

a screen shot of a computer: Windows 11 brings big changes over Windows 10, including a new design.  © Screenshot/Microsoft

Windows 11 brings big changes over Windows 10, including a new design. 

Before you install the new OS, let's go over the big changes Microsoft made and dig into what's really different. Here's everything that's changed from Windows 10 to Windows 11. And make sure you check out our favorite Windows 11 features and how to use them -- along with everything we wanted in Windows 11 but didn't get and how to set your default search engine.

Read more: Windows 11 is coming, so does that mean I should wait to buy a new laptop?

Windows 10 vs. Windows 11: Every big difference in the new OS

Design and interface

Windows 11 features a new design with a centered Start menu and Taskbar. Microsoft/Screenshot by Sarah Tew/CNET © Provided by CNET Windows 11 features a new design with a centered Start menu and Taskbar. Microsoft/Screenshot by Sarah Tew/CNET

Windows 11 brings a brand-new, more Mac-like interface to the OS. It features a clean design with rounded corners and pastel shades. The iconic Start menu also moves to the center of the screen along with the Taskbar. But you can move those back to the left, as they are in Windows 10, if you prefer.

Android app integration

graphical user interface: You'll be able to download Android apps to your PC in Windows 11. Microsoft/Screenshot by Sarah Tew/CNET © Provided by CNET You'll be able to download Android apps to your PC in Windows 11. Microsoft/Screenshot by Sarah Tew/CNET

Android apps will be coming to Windows 11 (though not right away) in Microsoft Store, via the Amazon Appstore. (There were a couple of ways to access Android apps on Windows 10, including if you had a Samsung Galaxy phone, but this will make it native.) This is something Windows users have been waiting for for years, and marks another move toward the merging of mobile and laptop devices. 

Better virtual desktop support

You'll find it easier to create and toggle between different virtual desktops in Windows 11 compared to Windows 10. Microsoft/Screenshot by Sarah Tew/CNET © Provided by CNET You'll find it easier to create and toggle between different virtual desktops in Windows 11 compared to Windows 10. Microsoft/Screenshot by Sarah Tew/CNET

Windows 11 will let you set up virtual desktops in a way that's more similar to Macs, toggling between multiple desktops at once for personal, work, school or gaming use. In Windows 10, this was harder to set up and use. 

Easier transition from monitor to laptop

a screen shot of a computer: It'll be easier to group different sets of windows and apps together and move between a desktop and a monitor thanks to Snap Layouts and Snap Groups. Microsoft/Screenshot by Sarah Tew/CNET © Provided by CNET It'll be easier to group different sets of windows and apps together and move between a desktop and a monitor thanks to Snap Layouts and Snap Groups. Microsoft/Screenshot by Sarah Tew/CNET

The new OS includes features called Snap Groups and Snap Layouts -- collections of the apps you're using at once that sit in the taskbar, and can come up or be minimized at the same time for easier task switching. They also let you plug and unplug from a monitor more easily, without losing where your open windows are located. 

Microsoft Teams added to the Taskbar

a person standing in front of a flat screen monitor: Microsoft Teams is built directly into the Taskbar in Windows 11 for easier video calling. Microsoft/Screenshot by Sarah Tew/CNET © Provided by CNET Microsoft Teams is built directly into the Taskbar in Windows 11 for easier video calling. Microsoft/Screenshot by Sarah Tew/CNET

Teams is getting a facelift and will be integrated directly into the Windows 11 taskbar, making it easier to access (and a bit more like Apple's FaceTime). You'll be able to access teams from Windows, Mac, Android or iOS. 

Widgets (well, sort of) 

graphical user interface, background pattern: Launch widgets from the Taskbar in Windows 11 to see at-a-glance information on weather, news, stocks and more. Microsoft/Screenshot by Josh Goldman/CNET © Provided by CNET Launch widgets from the Taskbar in Windows 11 to see at-a-glance information on weather, news, stocks and more. Microsoft/Screenshot by Josh Goldman/CNET

While they've been around for a while (remember desktop gadgets on Windows Vista?), including in a recent Windows 10 update, you can now access widgets directly from the Taskbar and personalize them to see whatever you'd like. 

Enhanced touchscreen, voice and pen support

graphical user interface: Microsoft is aiming to make Windows 11 easier to use on tablets than Windows 10. Microsoft/Screenshot by Sarah Tew/CNET © Provided by CNET Microsoft is aiming to make Windows 11 easier to use on tablets than Windows 10. Microsoft/Screenshot by Sarah Tew/CNET

For tablets, Microsoft has aimed to improve the experience for touch, with more space between icons on the taskbar, and adding gestures. Windows 11 also adds haptics to your digital pen, so you can hear and feel vibrations as you use it for taking notes or drawing. Finally, the OS introduces voice typing and commands across the system. 

Xbox tech to improve gaming

a close up of a motorcycle: Windows 11 brings some tech additions from the Xbox for better gaming. Microsoft/Screenshot by Sarah Tew/CNET © Provided by CNET Windows 11 brings some tech additions from the Xbox for better gaming. Microsoft/Screenshot by Sarah Tew/CNET

Windows 11 will get certain features found in Xbox consoles, like Auto HDR and DirectStorage, to improve gaming on your Windows PC. This marks another move toward integrating PCs and Xbox consoles for Microsoft. 

For more, check out everything we know about Windows 11 and how to download Windows 11.

AdChoices
AdChoices

More from CNET

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon