Windows 11: 6 of the best features of Microsoft’s new operating system and how they work


Windows 11 brings a bunch of new features. Here is how to use them.


Windows 11 started rolling out to eligible devices on October 5, completed by a fresh new design and a bunch of new features to streamline your PC and help you be more productive. Whether you use your device at home or in the office, these new features will make your life easier.

Keep in mind, however, that Microsoft is releasing Windows 11 in phases, so not everyone will have access to it at the start. The older your device, the longer you might have to wait before being prompted to upgrade.

Read more: Windows 11 review: Familiar but fresh

Here are the best new Windows 11 features announced so far and how you’ll use them, based on what Microsoft has demonstrated. (And be sure to check how to know if your PC will be compatible with Windows 11 and how to download windows 11 for free.)

Our favorite features in Windows 11 and how to use them

Android apps


You will be able to download Android apps on Windows 11.


What it is: Android applications will be integrated into Windows 11 natively through the new Microsoft Store – a change that Windows users have been waiting for for years. Be aware, however, that Android app support is not part of the first shipping version of Windows 11: It will come with another version in the next few months.

Although you can access Android apps on your Windows 10 PC in some cases (like if you have a samsung galaxy phone), Windows 11 will mark the first time anyone will be able to download them directly to your PC. (Here is all you need to know about Android applications under Windows 11.)

How you will use it: Once Windows 11 can handle them, Android apps will be in the new Microsoft Store through Amazon’s Appstore. This means you’ll need to download Amazon’s Appstore to access the nearly 500,000 apps available, including Disney Plus, TikTok, Netflix, Pinterest, and Uber. However, you will not be able to access all Android apps found in the Google Play Store.

When the time comes, you will need to download the Amazon Appstore and sign in or create an Amazon account. Then you will be able to search for free or paid apps just like you would on any other platform. Android apps will be integrated into the start bar and will also appear in the task bar with their own windows.

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Widgets on Windows 11 will give you customizable information at a glance.


What it is: Windows 11 add widgets to the interface – A customizable AI-powered feed that slides out to show you information like news, weather, preview your calendar, to-do list and recent photos. Widgets are similar to a feature called news and interests found in a recent Windows 10 update.

How you will use it: On the newly redesigned taskbar you will find a button for widgets. When you click or tap on it, a panel will slide down the left side of your screen with a series of widgets that will give you the information you’re looking for at a glance. You can also expand it to be full screen.

Microsoft teams


View the Microsoft Teams chat bar directly from the Windows 11 taskbar for easier access to your contacts.

Microsoft / Screenshot by Sarah Tew / CNET

What it is: Windows 11 versions Microsoft Teams video chat platform directly into the operating system, making it easy to access for everyday use. You can connect with others on Teams on Windows, Android, Mac, or iOS.

How you will use it: You can see teams appear in the taskbar. If not, you can search for it. Click the Teams icon to launch a chat tool, allowing you to choose whether you want to send a message, text, voice or video call to any of your contacts. Click Meet or Chat and choose who you want to contact. Or open the full version of Microsoft Teams by clicking the box at the bottom of the chat screen. (Here is more on how to use the new and improved Microsoft teams in Windows 11.)

Desktop computers


Easily switch between different desktops in Windows 11.

Microsoft / Screenshot by Sarah Tew / CNET

What it is: Windows 11 makes it easier for you create separate virtual desktops for every part of your life and personalize them with different wallpapers, so that you can create a desktop for personal use, work, school, games or anything else, and easily switch between them. This is similar to the macOS virtual desktop feature.

How you will use it: Press the desktop button on the taskbar to bring up a panel with your current desktop. Press the plus button in the New Desktop area to create a new desktop. Press the X button to delete it. Then tap on a desktop to access it.

Instant layouts

What it is: When working in multiple open windows, Windows 11 lets you arrange them in different screen layouts and saves all of those windows in that arrangement.

How you will use it: When you open a window, you’ll see a button that looks like a square in the upper right corner, between the X and the minimize button. Hover the mouse over it to see the different layout options for that window and select the layout and position in the layout that you want to place this window.


Bring together app and window groups with Snap Layouts, and easily maximize and minimize the set with Snap Groups in Windows 11.


Rigging groups

What it is: Snap groups are the set of open windows you saved in Snap Layouts, found in the taskbar for easy access to recall once more, so you can minimize or maximize them as a group.

How you will use it: Hover over your browser in the taskbar (it’s not clear whether you should use Microsoft Edge to do this, like Microsoft did in its demo). You will see the different groups of sites and applications that you have created. Click on the one you want to reopen the whole group. (Here is more on using page layouts and groups of snapshots.)

Find out more, find out more about how Windows 11 desktop widgets and layouts work and how to change the wallpaper of Windows 11.

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