Windows 11: a new era for the PC

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Umbrellar Connect

The last two years have profoundly changed how we live our lives, with the PC playing a more meaningful role than ever. New behaviours that were born out of necessity have evolved into habits as people and organisations reevaluate priorities through a new lens.

Would you have predicted at the end of 2019 that very soon your school-aged child would become proficient at Teams? Or your 70-year-old mum would spend Tuesday nights leading her Toastmasters meetings online? There’s no doubt a new hybrid infrastructure now exists – in the workplace, school and at home – that offers more flexibility in where and how people spend their time. And the PC is the hub.

According to a recent post by Panos Panay, Chief Product Officer, Windows + Devices, our new habits are driving a resurgence in PC use, with increases in both usage time and number of PCs per household. Panay notes three enduring trends: the rise in hybrid work and learning, a shift in entertainment habits and distribution models and changing consumer habits for everyday tasks.

The rise of hybrid working and learning

The pandemic forced an acceleration of both tech and organisational infrastructure so people could work and learn remotely. While being home with everyone in your household was often NOT conducive to working, there was definitely enough upsides for many to want to continue that option of working remotely on a permanent basis. Once upon a time, remote-first companies – think Basecamp, GitLab, InVision – were rare and often looked upon as ‘interesting experiments’. Nowadays, many have realised that if their job entails working at a PC, there’s not a lot of difference between the office and home.

Remote learning will also continue to play a role, as people find they can further qualifications around the rest of their often busy lives. These trends are reflected in how people are using Windows. In the last two years, Windows has seen a 6x increase in people using communication and collaboration apps to facilitate working and learning.

Shifts in entertainment habits and distribution models

How content is produced, distributed and consumed is vastly different now to even two years ago. Who would have thought blockbuster movies would be released in theatres and via streaming on the same day? Since the start of the pandemic, 70% more people streamed content across Hulu, Netflix and YouTube on Windows – and monthly gaming minutes grew over 35%. More than ever, we want to be in control of what, when and where we watch, play, stream and post – and increasingly it’s happening on the PC.

Changing consumer habits for everyday tasks

Grocery shopping, doctor’s appointments, going to the gym, eating out – these have all evolved with the rise of online ordering, delivery, virtual appointments and workouts. Telemedicine grew 3x and there was a 500%+ growth in the buy-online-pick-up-instore approach in just two years.

Windows 11 – a catalyst for engagement and growth

With the PC market experiencing the biggest growth in a decade, the launch of Windows 11 in October 2021 was perfectly timed. Almost 6 months after the fact, Microsoft reports users accepting the upgrade offer to Windows 11 at twice the rate they saw for Windows 10. It’s also had the highest quality scores and product satisfaction of any version of Windows it’s ever shipped.

The Windows 11 product team are continuing to adapt Windows to meet the evolving needs of customers, bringing new experiences such as a public preview of how to use Android apps on Windows 11 through the Microsoft store, partnerships with Amazon and Intel, taskbar improvements with call mute and unmute, easier window sharing and bringing the weather updates to the taskbar. Two new redesigned apps – Notepad and Media Player – will also be introduced.

Amazon Partnership

Windows 11 users in the U.S. can now access the Amazone Appstore Preview in the Microsoft Store, with popular apps such as Audible, Kindle, Subway Surfers, Lords Mobile, Khan Academy Kids now available.

Mute/Unmute and share any window from the taskbar

The phrases “You’re on mute” and “Can you see my slides?” have risen to meme-like stature in the hybrid workplace and the team at Microsoft wanted to help change that. The ability to mute/unmute and share any window from your taskbar is designed to make it easier for you to react quickly and avoid the embarrassment of being “that guy” on the video call.

For more detailed information on these features, plus the newly redesigned Media Player and Notepad, visit Microsoft’s Windows Experience Blog.


The contents of this article were first published by Microsoft on January 26, 2022 and February 15, 2022.

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Umbrellar Connect is the leading multi-media hub for New Zealand's tech innovations. We keep you informed on the need-to-know impact stories, the trends shaping our world, and the tech enabling us to go further.


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