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Microsoft’s next operating system, Windows 11, has just been revealed as part of its What’s Next For Windows showcase. Available as a free upgrade by the end of the year, the OS will be ready to beta test in a matter of days.
As well as a throwback to Vista in terms of visuals, Microsoft seem keen to make gaming more accessible within its new OS infrastructure. This was also the thinking behind Games for Windows, of course. The prospect of Windows 11 gaming was however enhanced with news that the OS will support Intel’s new line of processors and will feature Auto HDR, which has been a feature of the Xbox X and S series since March. Best of all, a new direct storage API should ensure fasting loading time for games as well.
There was an inevitable leak of information ahead of the Windows 11 reveal date that suggested a greater degree of integration between Microsoft’s OS and it’s increasingly popular Games Pass subscription service. Even more inevitable, those rumors turned out to be true, with boosted Games Pass functionality that will mean games and their social features will start quicker and make more efficient use of system resources than is currently the case with Windows 10.
From the Windows 11 presentation
"If you're a gamer, Windows 11 is made for you"
– Auto-HDR support coming
– DirectStorage support coming (fast I/O system)
– Xbox app is built into Win11 (includes xCloud) pic.twitter.com/Gadl73REr4
— Nibel (@Nibellion) June 24, 2021
Elsewhere, Windows 11 will boast an interface that embraces curves and transparency, reminiscent of the 2006 edition of Windows that alienated gamers with its abortive Games for Windows – Live. Unfortunate reminders aside, the cleaner interface does have undeniable appeal, and we like that icons for active programs and quicklinks are centralized at the bottom of the screen, Apple Dock-style. There will also be a new Start button and Teams integration, which suggests these could be the End Times for Skype.
Earlier in June Microsoft announced that Windows 10 will no longer be actively updated after December 13, 2022 and that official support for the popular OS is due to end in four years on October 14, 2025. Microsoft’s Windows 10 revelation immediately set the rumor mill turning that details of a new edition of Windows would be forthcoming. And they were. Go figure.