Microsoft has recently made Windows 11 available for its Insiders. Windows 11 Insider preview can be installed on those PCs that meet the minimum system requirements of Windows 11. If you are a member of the Windows Insider program, you can upgrade to Windows 11 right now. If you are not a member, then you can sign up with the Windows Insider program and upgrade to Windows 11. But the Windows 11 Insider preview is a development build of Windows 11, which means you might experience low stability and some rough edges. In this blog, we will conduct an in-depth look at what you can experience in Windows 11 Insider preview.
One of the prominent changes coming up with Windows 11 is the taskbar position. It is now located at the center of the screen, just like Mac OS or Chrome OS. But Microsoft assumes that there will be users who would not like the center position, so it allows them to shift it back to the left side. Right-click the taskbar and click "Taskbar settings". Click "Taskbar behaviors" and change the "Taskbar alignment" to "Left".
One thing you will notice with the taskbar is that it no longer allows you to change the size of the icons. You could change to small, medium, or large icons in the past, but not in Windows 11. Probably, this option might be available once Microsoft releases Windows 11 for all users.
Another prominent change with Windows 11 is the Start menu. Click the Windows icon and it will open the completely new Start menu. It shows the pinned apps that are the ones you use the most or the ones you might use. You can reposition them by dragging and dropping them. If you click "All apps", you can see all the available apps arranged alphabetically. You can pick an app to the Start menu by right-clicking the app and then selecting "Pin to Start".
Below the pinned app, you see a "Recommended" section. It shows the files you worked on recently. It is designed to quickly take you to that file. But it seems like the Start menu prefers to showcase files that are related to Microsoft products, such as Word, Excel, etc. It would be much better if other file types are also shown in the recommended section.
Once you are in a Start menu, simply typing anything will open the search bar and show you possible matches. Other than this approach, you can also click the search icon from the taskbar. You will notice that the search bar appears at the top now compared to the bottom position in the case of Windows 10.
Let's now have a look at Windows 11 Settings app. Search for "Settings" and then click the best match option. It will take you to the Windows 11 Settings window.
The first thing you will notice is that it is a complete interface change, as now you can see all the categories on the left side and can easily navigate between them. In Windows 10, if you go to one category, let's assume "Time & language", you have to go back and then go to another category. But in Windows 11, you can easily go back and forth between categories.
One issue we use to experience in Windows 10 is that there are two sets of interfaces within a single settings category. One interface is more like a legacy experience containing all the settings, while the other one is a modern one containing a subset of settings. Windows 11 solves this issue in most of the categories, but there are still few categories that have this issue. For example, go to "Sound" settings and there you will see all the common sound settings. But if you scroll down, you can see the "More sound settings" option. It contains more subset of sound settings. So, you can still find two interfaces within a single settings category in Windows 11.
Snapping & Snap Groups
Windows 11 presents prominent improvements in snapping windows for multitasking. If you bring the mouse near to maximize button, you will see different snapping placements to pick. So, you can orient the windows in different positions and do multitasking. But let's assume you went to the desktop for a moment and now you want to go back to your snapped windows. So, instead of rearranging the windows again, Windows 11 provides a snap group feature that lets you quickly go back to your snapped windows from the taskbar.
You were able to create virtual desktops in Windows 10, but it was not easy and customizable. In Windows 10, creating virtual desktops is just a click away. From the taskbar, click the "Task View" icon and it will show you the desktops list. From there, you can create a new desktop, navigate to different desktops, or rename desktops.
You can even personalize the desktops easily. For example, create a new desktop, right-click the mouse, and click "Personalize". From there, you can change the background or do other personalization. The changes you do on one desktop will not be reflected in others. This way, you can differentiate desktops and do multitasking conveniently. In addition, if you go to Settings > System > Multitasking, you will see two options under the "Desktops" section that let you set whether you want to see all the apps on all desktops or on one specific desktop.
Windows 11 also shows Widgets now. Click the "Widgets" icon from the taskbar and it will open the Widgets. Currently, you cannot expand the pane, but probably you will be able to do it when a stable version is released. Widgets show you data like, calendar, To-Do list, weather, stock info, news, and plenty others.
You can customize the shown widgets by clicking the 3-dots horizontal icon located at the top-right corner of each one. You can change size or even remove widgets from there. You can also rearrange the widgets by simply dragging and dropping. One thing to notice is that if you click any news, it will open it in Microsoft Edge irrespective of what is your default browser. So, it's strange that how Microsoft is forcing us to stick with Microsoft Edge.
System tray in Windows 11 has also seen improvements. Now the internet, volume, and battery icons are connected. So, if you click any one of them, you can modify them all from it along with some other settings, such as brightness, Bluetooth, etc. In addition, if you bring the mouse to the very bottom right corner, you will see a button "Show desktop". If you click the button, it will minimize the opened apps and take you to the desktop instantly. Clicking it again will take you back to the same apps.
Calendar & Action Center
In Windows 11, the calendar, time, and action center are all combined. If you click on time, you will also see the calendar along with all notifications. You can also customize the notifications that you see there. Go to Settings > System > Notifications. Click "Focus assist" and there you can set up your priority notifications or rules such as at what time notifications should appear, etc.
File Explorer has also gone through some serious changes in Windows 11. At the top, there is no ribbon now, instead, you will see a command bar. If you right-click any file, you will see similar commands but in a more spacious manner compared to the earlier Windows versions. In addition, if you right-click any file and click "Show more options", it will show Windows 10 similar options. So, it's a menu inside a menu, but probably you won't be using it often because the command bar is going to fulfill most of your needs.
Microsoft Store has also seen significant changes in Windows 11 or you can call it a brand-new Microsoft Store. Click "Microsoft Store" from the taskbar, and on the left side, you will see separate sections of apps, gaming, and entertainment, along with a home view that shows all the trending apps. As of now, Microsoft Store still lags in the number of apps it provides. But Microsoft Store is now allowing all types of apps to be showcased in the store, so probably we can see more apps in Microsoft Store in a near future.
The Xbox app is also integrated with Windows 11. It will play gamers to quickly access the desired games. Both Microsoft Store and Xbox app is showing game sections, but the difference is that Microsoft Store shows more like casual games, while Xbox shows more graphical games.
Android & Teams Integration Missing
Windows 11 launch event showed integration of Teams and Android apps in Windows 11, but the recent release of Windows 11 Insider preview does not have them currently. Definitely, they will be added soon. So, we have to wait till then.
Windows 11 Insider preview gives us goosebumps about all the top-notch new features that are on our way with Windows 11. Some of these features will get further improvements over time. But if you cannot wait till Windows 11 general public release, then you can opt for the Insider program and experience Windows 11 today.