Microsoft Schedules Windows 11 Release for Oct. 5
Windows 11, Microsoft's next-gen desktop operating system, will begin rolling out on Oct. 5, Microsoft announced Tuesday.
On that date, Microsoft will start offering the upgrade for free to existing devices that meet Windows 11's hardware requirements. The upgrade will be offered via Windows Update. New devices with Windows 11 will also hit retail shelves on Oct. 5.
A 'Measured' Rollout
Microsoft described its planned rollout of the Windows 11 upgrade as "phased and measured," starting first with "new eligible devices." It will then offer the upgrade to older devices depending on their "hardware eligibility, reliability metrics, age of device and other factors that impact the upgrade experience." Microsoft expects all qualified devices will have the upgrade by mid-2022.
Users are being advised to store their files in OneDrive as they prepare to upgrade to Windows 11 -- perhaps to avoid issues similar to the one that plagued an earlier Windows 10 upgrade, version 1809. That upgrade, released almost two years ago, caused some users to lose their files. Microsoft acknowledged in its announcement Tuesday that Windows 11's rollout is informed by "the tremendous learnings from Windows 10."
To help organizations assess their Windows 11-readiness, Microsoft is offering two tools: a new "Windows metric" feature in Microsoft Endpoint Manager and its PC Health Check app. The Windows metric feature is described in this blog post as being part of a September update to Endpoint Manager. It will determine how many devices in an organization are running older Windows versions and provide "remediation steps." Meanwhile, the PC Health Check app is an existing product used to assess the upgrade-readiness of individual devices. Microsoft had put the app on pause while it finalized Windows 11's hardware requirements, but it now plans to resume the app "soon."
Organizations and users who are unable to upgrade to Windows 11 can count on Microsoft supporting Windows 10 through Oct. 14, 2025. A second Windows 10 update, dubbed "21H2," is also set to arrive later this year.
Microsoft spotlighted a few of Windows 11's features in its Tuesday announcement. There are cosmetic changes; the Start menu, for instance, does away with Windows 10's Live Tiles and appears at the bottom-center of the screen by default, instead of on the bottom-left.
Windows 11 notably will have just annual updates, instead of the biannual updates that are provided for Windows 10. That change is a nod to feedback from IT shops, Microsoft has said, which have found once-a-year updates easier to manage, particularly in hybrid work environments.
There are also some developer perks, according to Microsoft. "We are opening the [Microsoft] Store to allow more developers and independent software vendors (ISVs) to bring their apps to the Store, improving native and web app development with new developer tools, and making it easier for you to refresh the look and feel across all our app designs and experiences."
Other Windows 11 features include:
- Easier access to Microsoft Teams via the taskbar.
- Support for Android apps (preview).
- Accessibility improvements.
- Improvements to "touch, digital pen and voice input."
Gladys Rama (@GladysRama3) is the editor of Redmondmag.com, RCPmag.com and AWSInsider.net, and the editorial director of Converge360.