Microsoft has launched Windows 11, the latest iteration of its Windows software, which includes sharper aesthetic elements and is more open to third-party programs.

The latest version of Microsoft’s central operating system, unveiled Thursday, will be a successor to today’s Windows 10, which was released in 2015. In a push to competitor Apple, Microsoft also stated that it will not charge app developers money to use its app store and that Google’s popular Android applications will operate on its new system. 

microsoft windows 11 update laptop

Windows 11 is anticipated to be released later this year on new PCs and other devices and as a free upgrade for Windows 10 users. It contains a slew of visual enhancements, such as a new Start button, a redesigned taskbar and sounds, and under-the-hood changes to increase speed and efficiency. While allowing third-party developers, more access also strengthens Microsoft’s workplace talking platform Teams by making it simpler to reach individuals when it first launches.

According to analyst J.P. Gownder, the visual and user-friendly enhancements match CEO Satya Nadella’s pledge to develop products that customers would “love,” not endure; however, Gownder questions if Windows 11 represents a new generation of software. It is based on the same basic code base as Windows 10 may be a positive thing, he says, because it may avoid the technical issues that marred the debut of Windows Vista in 2007. 

Microsoft’s virtual announcement event was hampered by technical issues on Thursday, leading the firm to propose that some spectators watch it on Twitter instead.

Microsoft hoped that when it released Windows 10 six years ago, the new operating system would help it reestablish loyalty among consumers who were more reliant on tablets, smartphones, and other devices. For decades, Windows has been a PC workhorse. Its initial version was released in 1985. It provided computer newbies with a “graphical user interface” that allowed them to click on icons and menus with a mouse button rather than just typing commands onto a blank screen.

Microsoft to challenge Apple?

Microsoft stated that if developers have their commerce engine, they will circumvent the payments mechanism in its app store. This could cause issues for Apple, which has already faced government scrutiny over its app store and a legal battle with Epic, the maker of the popular Fortnite game. They claim that Apple has been gouging app makers in a lawsuit by charging commissions ranging from 15% to 30% for in-app transactions because it prohibits other options on its iPhone, iPad, and iPod.

“I believe this will be troublesome for Apple in their antitrust negotiations,” tech expert Patrick Moorhead said. “Apple charges 30% on its store, whereas Microsoft charges 0% and 15% if you utilize its commerce engine. Global antitrust authorities are actively investigating Apple on this point.”

Moorhead believes that the increased access to third-party programs, along with the improved user interface promised by Windows 11, would help Microsoft gain a firmer foothold in the premium tablet market, which is now dominated by the iPad.

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