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Windows 11 launch day recap — what you need to know

Windows 11 has arrived, and this is everything you need to know live from launch day

A Windows 11 screenshot
(Image: © Microsoft)

Microsoft's new Windows 11 operating system officially launched today (October 5th), and we’ve got the lowdown on all the new features in our Windows 11 review

To celebrate Windows 11 launch day we ran a liveblog covering all the reactions as the next generation of Windows rolled out across the world -- though since it's a staged rollout, some Windows 10 PCs won't get offered the upgrade until 2022!

But there's some cool new features to get excited about. There’s a redesigned Start menu that provides quick access to a multitude of apps and tools, and multitaskers will appreciate Snap Assist, Layouts and Groups, which gives you more control over your desktop and apps. 

We praised Windows 11 for its new clean and attractive look, combined with more intuitive menus and improved tools. But we were also critical of the demanding system requirements and some missing features at launch (like Android apps). 

You'll be able to try Windows 11 starting today, with free updates becoming available to those upgrading from Windows 10 between now and mid-2022 — providing you have a desktop or laptop with the right specs to handle Windows 11. 

Windows 11 is set to evolve over time, and we're confident that from today onwards which means more features, tips and tricks and problems and issues will arise from the operating system. 

So read on for all the relevant news, observations, reactions, and other information as it happened on Windows 11 launch day.  

Refresh

Here we go, Windows 11 is officially out and you can get it today. But should you? well read Alex Wawro's Windows 11 review to get our full impressions of the next-gen OS. 

Windows 11 Start menu screenshot

(Image credit: Future)

The hype for Windows 11 is real, with an advert on New York City's Times Square. Is this a bit much? 

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Before you rush off and get Windows 11 for free or decide to buy it outright if you've moving from a much older Windows machine or macOS, then do make sure to check out the OS' minimum system specs first. There are: 

Our friends over at Windows Central have a video breaking down the top-level changes Windows 11 brings. We reckon it's well worth a look. 

If you're looking at upgrading from Windows 10 to Windows 11, then the update function in the older operating system will now tell you if your PC can run Widows 11.

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Speaking of upgrading, Alex Wawro reckons you shouldn't rush out and upgrade to Windows 11

"The biggest reason you shouldn’t rush out and try to install Windows 11 yourself is that the operating system isn’t feature-complete yet. While it’s common to see software updated with patches and new features post-release, Windows 11 is more undercooked at launch than I’d like," Wawro explained in his review of Windows 11. 

And if you're a big PC gaming fan then you might want to proceed with caution and Windows 11 looks set to hit gaming performance in pre-built PCs. People who make their own gaming machines should be fine though. 

an image Xbox Game Pass with Windows 11

(Image credit: Microsoft)

So if you decide to download Windows 11, here are eight features you'll want to try first

But what about TPM you might ask, the most controversial feature of Windows 11? Well, you can actually upgrade to Windows 11 without a TPM — here's how.

a screenshot of the Windows 11 Widgets menu

(Image credit: Future)

We perhaps got a little ahead of ourselves there, as you may be wondering how to install Windows 11, but we have our handy step-by-step guide. 

If you want a quick and clear break down of what's different between Windows 10 and Windows 11, which might not be immediately clear at first glance, then YouTuber TrigrZolt has you covered. Check out the video below. 

If you are still unsure about whether your computer will run Windows 11, then Microsoft has brought back the Health Check App that will give your PC a quick assessment to see if it's up to the task of running Windows 11. 

The Windows 11 logo seen through a digital magnifying glass

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

And depending on what result the Health Check App delivers, you may decide you want a new computer. If that's the case then check out our selection of the best Windows 11-ready laptops so far. 

a collection of Windows 11 laptops

(Image credit: Microsoft)

One of the most notable changes is the new Start menu in Windows 11. It might sound like a small thing to change, but the Start menu is so ingrained in Windows use that changing it is a big deal. But we have a full tour of everything that's new in the Windows 11 Start menu so you won't be taken by surprise. 

a screenshot of the Windows 11 Start Menu

(Image credit: Microsoft)

And another new, but also kinda weird, thing about Windows 11 is it'll run Android apps, at least at some point in the future. We're not so convinced this'll be a killer feature, but it's definitely intriguing. 

Widgets are one of the main new features Windows 11 brings to the Windows table. The are an evolution of the Desktop Gadgets and the information in the live tiles we see in Windows 8 and Windows  10, but now feel a little more embedded into the Windows experience and more content rich. 

But reviewer Alex Wawro isn't so convinced by them thus far: "It’s a neat idea, and perhaps in the future I’ll come to rely on Windows 11 Widgets during my daily routine.

"But right now, Widgets on Windows 11 are quite limited and easily forgotten. When Microsoft first announced they were coming to Windows 11, we were shown demos of a Widgets panel that can be customized, expanded into full-screen mode, and rearranged to your liking." 

a screenshot of the Windows 11 Widgets menu

(Image credit: Future)

To go alongside the Windows 11 launch day, we have reviews of the latest Windows Surface devices. 

First up is the somewhat oddball Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio review. Wawro has once again flexed his reviewing muscles and come to the conclusion that the this is the machine Windows 11 was meant to run on. 

"Microsoft's Surface Laptop Studio is a premium 2-in-1 that's good enough to handle working, gaming, and creating digital art on the go," he writes. "Whether it's the right laptop for you depends on how much you want that sliding 120Hz screen." 

The Surface Laptop Studio was awarded 4 out of 5 stars making it a very good 2-in-1 device, just don't expect it to be cheap. 

a photograph of the Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio

(Image credit: Future)

Next up is our Microsoft Surface Go 3 review, which sees the Redmond company give its smallest Windows tablet-meets-laptop a little refresh. 

Reviewer Henry T, Casey wanted more, noting: "The Microsoft Surface Go 3 is difficult to recommend, due to confounding performance and battery issues. We'd opt for a Surface Go 2 over this new model." 

A mere 2.5 stars for the Surface Go 3 isn't a stellar result. 

The Microsoft Surface Go 3 on a windowsill

(Image credit: Henry T. Casey)

And we have our Microsoft Surface Pro 8 review from Tony Polanco, who has heaped praise on the new Surface Pro, thanks to its redesign and seemingly tailor-made for Windows 11. 

The addition of new 11th Gen Intel processors and an improved display with 120Hz is definitely appealing. The Type Cover has also been improved. 

Microsoft Surface Pro 8 photograph

(Image credit: Future)

Okay, let's get back to the software side. And specifically what is a TPM? This is something you'll need to run Windows 11. 

For those of you who don't know, TPM stands for trusted platform module and is a hardware feature in computers that secures a computer via an integrated cryptographic key. Basically it's a better way of securing a computer at a hardware level rather than relying on software that's easier to get around, relatively speaking. 

Windows 11 wallpaper with Asus TPM on front layer.

(Image credit: Microsoft/Asus | Remix by Nick Bush)

TPM might seem like a faff and a compelling reason to avoid upgrading to Windows 11.But you'll only have so long to put that off for as Windows 10 will lose Microsoft support in 2025

If you're a Microsoft Office user, then get ready for some big changes as it's getting a big makeover for Windows 11

Speaking of makeovers, Windows 11 is getting ever-more friendly with Xbox gaming, and has brought in some the best Xbox Series X features over to Windows 11. Those include Auto HDR and DirectStorage, the latter is good if you have a compatible NVMe SSD. 

Xbox Series X on wooden table.

(Image credit: Alex Van Aken | Shutterstock)

Let's get back to weighing up the move to upgrade from Windows 10 to Windows 11. We have our Windows 11 vs Windows 10 showdown, which should give you some pointers as to whether you want to make the jump to the new operating system sooner than later. 

With Windows 11 officially rolling out across the world today, looks like Microsoft's taken to touting how well it works as a gaming platform. And there's some truth to that, as the Xbox app works well and is better integrated with Windows than ever before — don't miss our own Tony Polasco's take on what Windows 11 means for gamers.

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Windows 11 launch day is winding down in New York, but if you're in the area of Harlem or the East Village you might still be able to pick up a free scoop of Windows 11-themed ice cream at Mikey Likes It Ice Cream -- no TPM required!

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Our own Kate Kozuch has the quick lowdown on what to know about Windows 11 over on the Tom's Guide TikTok channel -- give us a follow for more fun updates! 

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