Windows 11 launches October 5th, but will you upgrade?

Microsoft today announced plans to launch Windows 11 on October 5th, inviting us to a world of exciting new features like rounded corners and a new default desktop wallpaper. As new named versions of Windows goes, 11 seems a smaller upgrade than from, say, Windows 3.1 to Windows 95, or from Window 8 to straight-up not owning a PC at all. Still, it has a few handy features for gaming. And it will roll out as a free upgrade from 10, if you want it.

“The free upgrade to Windows 11 starts on October 5 and will be phased and measured with a focus on quality,” Microsoft blogman Aaron Woodman explained. “Following the tremendous learnings from Windows 10, we want to make sure we’re providing you with the best possible experience. That means new eligible devices will be offered the upgrade first. The upgrade will then roll out over time to in-market devices based on intelligence models that consider hardware eligibility, reliability metrics, age of device and other factors that impact the upgrade experience. We expect all eligible devices to be offered the free upgrade to Windows 11 by mid-2022.”

Big fan of the phrase “tremendous learnings.” Just tremendous learnings, mate. But yes, when Microsoft deem your PC eligible, Windows Update will let you know.

Windows 11 does have different hardware requirements, particularly in requiring a Trusted Platform Module 2.0 chip. When I tried MS’s doodad that checks if your PC can run Windows 11, I got a big no (though I understand fiddling with your BIOS might be fruitful). MS have updated the minimum system requirements since then, mind, and plan to update the Checker. Still, I’m in no hurry to switch. I’m not sure how much Windows 11 would benefit me until I buy new hardware.

One of the headline gaming features in W11 is Auto HDR. As seen on the new Xbox, it can add HDR support to older games (DX11 and up) which don’t support that there fancy monitor stuff. I don’t own an HDR monitor and don’t intend to buy one, but maybe one day I will? Microsoft also tout faster loading times thanks to their DirectStorage tech, though it’ll be coming to Windows 10 in a less-fast form too. Ah, I’ll probably not switch until I get a new PC. Win10 works fine enough for me.

Sounds like the built-in Android app support won’t be in at launch either. Woodman said, “We look forward to continuing our journey to bring Android apps to Windows 11 and the Microsoft Store through our collaboration with Amazon and Intel; this will start with a preview for Windows Insiders over the coming months.”

A screenshot of Windows 11's start menu in dark mode.
Big ’90s Internet PhotoShop tutorial culture’ vibes.

Our James is being won over by Windows 11’s new UI, mind. “I particularly like the completely rejigged Start menu, which looks a lot better for making customisations without all the screen-hogging tiles that Windows has pushed since Windows 8,” he said.

I will concede that I do like how the default wallpaper looks backgrounds I used on LiteStep in, like, 1998.

Microsoft plan to support Windows 10 through October 14th, 2025, so you won’t instantly be cut off from updates if you choose not to upgrade. But eventually, years down the line, Windows 10 will likely become less safe to use thanks to unpatched security holes. You know, like how it only takes 13 seconds for a fresh Windows XP install connected to the Internet to start printing out pornography then fire up a botnet minting and selling NFTs of webcam photos of looking surprised by the obscenity pouring forth from your Epson Stylus Color 300.

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