It’s been over 6 years since the global launch of Windows 10, a product that was heralded as ‘the last ever version’ of the world’s most used operating system.
Unlike its predecessor, Windows 8, Windows 10 was not created as a short-term solution but as an OS for life. An ever-present product that would receive regular patches and updates to deliver security enhancement and new functionality, and therefore avoiding the need to replace with a new version several years down the line.
It came as a surprise to many, then, when Microsoft revealed earlier this year that a new version of its flagship OS was in the offing. Windows 11 is set for release in the next few weeks.
Windows 11 represents an intriguing change in strategy for Microsoft, and it’s prompted some common questions across IT professionals, businesses and consumers alike. Why has Windows 11 been released and why should I consider an upgrade?
Security drives a change in strategy
While it’s always been a major concern for organisations, cybersecurity has captured even greater mindshare amongst business leaders as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. A recent survey revealed that 70% of organisations have reported an increase in phishing attacks during this time.
It’s the evolving security landscape that is one of the main drivers behind the release of Windows 11. While Windows 10 continues to receive regular updates including security patches and enhancements, Microsoft has created Windows 11 to offer improved security capabilities and, crucially, additional support for hardware enforced features such as Windows Hello, Device Encryption and Virtualisation-based security.
This leads us to one of the most widely reported requirements for Windows 11 PCs – Trusted Platform Module (TPM) 2.0 support. TPM 2.0 Is a cryptographic PC module installed within certain PCs to deliver enhanced encryption and security. At a basic level, TPM modules can encrypt your data, protect authentication credentials, and identify the various pieces of software running on a PC at any given time.
It’s the advanced security capabilities of TPM 2.0 enabled PCs that Microsoft sees as crucial to the performance of Windows 11, which is why only those with PCs that includes TPM 2.0 enabled CPUs will be able to run this new OS.
Microsoft requirements do however stand to reason, with its own device tests showing that the enablement of features such as Windows Hello and Device Encryption can reduce malware breaches by up to 60%.
So, what else is available with Windows 11?
While security plays a major role in the story behind Windows 11’s creation, as the successor to Windows 10 it needs to deliver new features and functionality that improve the user experience.
1 – Updated Mac-style UI
In terms of changes and new features, some of the most obvious relate to the user interface. From an aesthetic level, the desktop and taskbar design has had a facelift, with a smoother, more rounded style intended to create a Mac-like experience.
2 – Talk on Teams with ease
With the increased popularity of Microsoft Teams for both personal and professional use, Microsoft has also included a new chat button which will replace the Skype Meet Now button that was standard with Windows 10. This will allow you to open up a pop-up display showing your most recent chats, and allow you to launch new chats and calls without needing to open up the Teams application in full.
3 – More apps on one screen
To help with user productivity, there’s also an improved snap app features, with Snap Layouts allowing you to more easily select and position multiple applications so that they appear in the same window. You can also create pre-set groups of applications with Snap Groups for those regularly working from the same applications at once.
4 – Virtual desktops for hybrid working
Microsoft has recognised that hybrid working is now the future for many users, and that means that a single device is likely to be designated for both personal and professional use within a multitude of environments.
To that end, Windows 11 includes an improved virtual desktop feature that allows users to easily create multiple virtualised desktop environments for the same PC. This allows you to keep specific files and applications, i.e. work and home, on separate screens to create a more personalised feel.
Is Windows 11 right for you?
With the launch of Windows 11 just around the corner, many organisations will be considering whether they need to make an immediate switch to upgrade their OS.
Firstly, it’s worth pointing out that Windows 11 will initially be available as a free update for Windows 10 users with TPM 2.0 supported PCs, so for those eligible there is an opportunity to easily upgrade should you want to.
However, despite the launch of its new OS, Microsoft has confirmed that Windows 10 will continue to be supported until October 2025, so there’s plenty of time to make the switch before you are exposed to any additional vulnerabilities. Given the specific hardware requirements for Windows 11, those without TPM 2.0 support will most likely need to replace or update their PC, so it would make sense to wait until an upcoming device refresh to deploy Windows 11 across your organisation.
For the more security conscious, or those operating in highly regulated and compliant industries, you may decide to accelerate a device refresh and upgrade to Windows 11 to ensure new security features are fully supported sooner.
To learn more about Windows 11, discuss the suitability of your PC for an upgrade, or to discuss your device refresh, get in touch with our team.