What’s New and Familiar in Windows 11

This version of this chapter is out of date. You can find the latest version here.


Microsoft describes Windows 11 as being "fresh and familiar," and while that sounds paradoxical, it's true. That is, Windows 11 offers a fresh new user experience that is simpler, prettier, and more modern than that of its predecessor, Windows 10. But it is also instantly familiar, providing all of the same basic interfaces that Windows users expect, know, and use.

We will dive into these topics in more detail throughout the book, but here is a quick breakdown of the major changes, improvements, and features available in Windows 11.
New design
The first thing you'll notice when you boot into Windows 11 is its fresh new design. Microsoft has dramatically simplified the user interface in Windows 11 while retaining the basic look and feel of Windows 10. This means that familiar interfaces like the Desktop, Taskbar, and Start are all present as before, but they're also more streamlined and prettier now. Even the system sounds have been completely overhauled to help create an overall sense of calm.

Where did it go?
One side-effect of Microsoft's simplification work in Windows 11 is that some common interfaces in Windows 10 are now harder to find, require extra steps, or are simply missing. We will point out these stumbling blocks as needed and any workarounds when available.
At a high level, the new Windows 11 design consists of several key components. It's simpler and more modern looking than Windows 10, and more naturally transitions between Light and Dark modes. Key interfaces like the Start menu and the icons on the Taskbar are now centered by default, and more closely resemble similar interfaces on mobile platforms like Android and iPhone. And windows and controls now display with curved corners, which helps to make Windows 11 feel calmer and cleaner.
Lock screen and sign-in screen
The lock screen appears When you power on or wake up your PC. The version you see in Windows 11 is very similar to that of Windows 10, but it's been updated with the new Windows 11 font treatment.

Where did it go?
The Windows 11 lock screen doesn't have any new features, but it is missing one feature from Windows 10: you can no longer configure up to 7 apps that can display quick status alerts. (You can still configure a single app to display detailed status alerts.) There is no workaround.
When you click past the lock screen, Windows 11 will display the Sign-in screen, where you authenticate your account and sign in to Windows. There are no functional changes to this screen.

The Windows 11 Desktop is largely unchanged from that of Windows 10, and you will find the same basic functionality, with the same default icons---Recycle Bin and Microsoft Edge---as before.

Like other top-level interfaces in Windows 11, the Desktop has, of course, been updated with new wallpapers and the new design. Context menus---which are accessed as befo...

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