Windows 10 and Windows 11
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As far back as many of us can remember, Windows has been around. It has a rich 35-year history full of novel experiences that demonstrated how computing can improve our lives, such as creating your first piece of digital art in Microsoft Paint, writing your first line of code, or writing your first essay in Microsoft Word.
Understanding the history is necessary for designing the next iteration of Windows, but empathy for present and future needs of people is even more crucial, as is knowledge of how technology may meet those requirements. As we started the design process for Windows 11, we looked at how the world had changed over the previous 18 months, including how the pandemic revealed unmet needs and sped up the emergence of new behaviours. More importantly, we talked to people about their dreams and aspirations so we could learn what drives them and what they need from their technology in order to achieve their goals. This clear focus on people, how computing can empower them, and what they love permeates the designs for Windows 11.
Because human-centricity is at the core of our design philosophy, we relish the connection with people that is required to create a lot of love. We spoke with everyone over more than 85 research studies and tens of thousands of testing sessions, from longtime users who appreciate the familiar features of our system to new users who want Windows to be simpler and more approachable. Please feel free to watch our videos about our design and research methodology and philosophy to learn more.
A guiding design principle was based on a major theme that emerged during research: calm technology that genuinely improves our lives. This release has been one of our most user-driven ones ever. In today's world, calmness is desperately needed, and it often depends on our capacity to feel in charge, at ease, and trustworthy. Windows 11 helps this with basic experiences that seem familiar, soften traditionally frightening UI, and boost emotional connection. Experiences that bring you closer to what you love most: family, friends, passions, entertainment, and creations. Windows 11 is where everything comes together, and the need for this has never been stronger.
The pandemic affected Windows 11, as it has with everything. While the rise of mobile technology had nudged the PC away from the spotlight, last year brought it squarely back to centre stage. Amid a new virtual paradigm of personal blended with professional, the power and flexibility of PCs enabled us to work from various corners of our homes. It held steadfast as a trusted tool and worthy partner across work, home, and school, quietly awaiting our small moments of brilliance.
And the past year has shown us just how brilliant humans can be. In the midst of the upheaval and chaos, we observed people discovering new ways to interact and play while also learning how to work in a hybrid environment. As we iterated the designs for Windows 11 alongside them, we strove to create a beloved experience that makes it easy to focus on what matters most to each of us.
Putting you at the center
The spirit of creative pragmatism guides the Microsoft Windows Design Team. Designing for a population of over a billion people demands compassion. To create solutions that are inclusive of all while still providing a personal touch, it depends on internalising human needs. Human-centered product design and a strong dedication to creating the most inclusive and private operating system are used to retell the evolution of Windows as it enters its next phase.
Think about the Start menu: it became the focal point of the Windows user experience. We created a cleaner and simpler experience that puts individuals at the centre by giving priority to the apps and documents they love after hearing from users who wanted Start to be more efficient and less noisy. Additionally, it conforms to contemporary device form factors and makes all screen sizes, from an ultrawide display to a Surface Go, easier to reach.
These design selections are not made lightly at Microsoft. The Start logo was modified to conform to our new visual language, and animations were used to enhance the interaction and bring joy. The crew was meticulous in their attention to detail. We also purposefully selected the background image, which welcomes you upon startup and harmonises with the new centre alignment to improve the balance and clarity of your experience. We want your experience with Windows 11 to be centred right away.
The out-of-box experience, which formerly welcomed you but now welcomes you back, reflects our commitment on making technology more human. We are aware that not every consumer is a first-time buyer, and we want to show our appreciation for steadfast customers through our designs. Additionally, you may give your PC a name during setup so that Windows feels more personalised and human-sounding than the generic name that comes with the system settings. Windows is uniquely yours, and we created it to honour the way you work and live.
As you go about your day after settling in, Windows 11 remembers who you are and what you need. One-click interactions will move you from task to task, experience to experience, without breaking your workflow. The distinctions between work and life have changed over the past year. We devoted great attention to how you may organise your activities in this new version of Windows so that you can stay focused and in the flow despite shifting contexts. Windowing and snapping have been adjusted to remember your preferences so when you leave your work head for a second to check the news (the new Widgets were explicitly made to respect your workflow), the system remembers how you ordered your area. We designed the digital counterpart of your work station tucked into your house, permitting you to achieve something great and feel connected to your life all at once.
These changes come to life through a beautiful new design language that makes Windows more coherent than ever across experiences. We improved our visual and auditory expression after learning that users wanted UI that felt softer, friendlier, and less intimidating. To create a more personable and approachable language that doesn't hinder your productivity, we softened sharp edges and used a warmer colour palette.
More than an operating system
How can you create a product for more than a billion individuals, each with different needs? You pay attention, refine, and adjust. By softening edges, minimising clutter, and designing consistently, we improved Windows 11 by using customer insights. New materials and typefaces, a revitalised colour scheme, as well as new wallpapers and theme packs made to suit a variety of tastes all contribute to these improvements' elevation of self-expression.
With the release of Windows 11, we witness a change from technology that is merely functional to technology that is intensely personal, emotional, and human. Windows is more than simply an operating system; it is woven into our lives and helps us create and connect while bringing us closer to the things we love.
Windows 10 and Windows 11
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