Since 2020, videoconferencing has become indispensable to businesses, organizations, and government agencies of all sizes. Managers have come to depend on one-on-one, and group video meetings to remain operational as organizational and governmental coronavirus mitigation measures have encouraged or forced employees to work remotely and avoid group gatherings. And as many employers transition to a permanent hybrid-remote work environment, business leaders and IT professionals have been upgrading their conferencing capabilities to ensure smooth and secure operations.
While organizations have worked with various videoconferencing vendors, Microsoft Teams has become the platform of choice for many operating in a Windows environment. Not only is it well-known for its high level of security, but it also integrates fairly well with existing Microsoft products. Still, when using Microsoft Teams and a Windows 10 (or prior version), you’ll find initiating and integrating Teams requires a few extra steps than you might expect.
That changes with the forthcoming Windows 11 operating system. The new system, announced on June 24, is expected to integrate Windows 11 into its taskbar for easy access. You can start Teams with the appropriate taskbar button or through the new Start menu, which will display icons for it and a number of other applications and recently used items. The new Teams is also expected to be substantially faster as Microsoft has developed a Teams client using its browser Edge that reduces memory usage while providing the same rich graphic experience.
If you’re looking to send text messages rather than videoconference, Microsoft will also integrate Teams’ Chat feature into Windows 11. When you select the icon from the taskbar, you’ll be able to send messages to your contacts they’ll receive as either a text, chat, video, or voice message if they have the Teams app downloaded, or an SMS if they don’t, no matter what platform or device they use. From Chat, you’ll also soon be able to initiate video calls, though that function is not currently available in the Preview versions of Windows 11.
Supporting Windows 11 security features is Microsoft’s use of a Trusted Platform Module (TPM) 2.0 to run. Nearly all PCs manufactured after 2015 have one, although many PCs do not have them enabled. This module helps secure PCs and laptops from tampering using an integrated cryptographic key. It also supports additional authentication measures like facial recognition and fingerprint identification.
A TPM 2.0 module is not the only hardware required to run Windows 11. Additional operating requirements include a minimum 64-bit 1 GHz processor, 4 GB of RAM or more, a graphic card compatible with DirectX 12 or a later version, along with a WDDM 2.0 driver. Unfortunately, these requirements mean millions of PCs will likely need to be phased out to run Windows 11. Businesses, organizations, and individuals will need to either buy new ones or, where feasible, upgrade their current devices. To give users the time to make the transition, Microsoft will be phasing out support for Windows 10 by 2025. They will also sell PCs pre-bundled with Windows 11 starting during the holiday season. And for users already running Windows 10 that mean Windows 11 hardware requirements, Microsoft is offering the new operating system as a free download.
While some business and individual users may chafe at the expense of upgrading, Windows 11 comes with many additional productivity-enhancing features. In addition to enhanced colors and graphics, Windows 11 will feature several widgets designed to easily deliver news and other information. Users will also find that Microsoft’s voice recognition technology has undergone significant improvements. And to make usage easier when multiple monitors are in use, Windows 11 can now store different configurations of windows and apps you have open so that you can seamlessly move from one to another.
For the apps you don’t have, the new Microsoft Store will be more robust, as it will now include apps from the Amazon App Store that can be run natively. Microsoft is also enticing developers to add their apps by being less restrictive than Apple. Unlike Apple, which takes a commission from each app download, Microsoft will not do so. Further, Microsoft will not require developers to use its own payment processing system. Finally, Microsoft will allow apps developed using Progressive Web App (PWA), or Universal Windows App (UWP), Win32, or their chosen framework.
Another important change is when Microsoft will provide feature updates. In Windows 10, those updates came biannually, but with Windows 11, they will come once a year. Microsoft will also offer extended support for Windows 11: 24 months for Home and Pro editions, rather than 18 months. It will also offer 36 months for Enterprise and Education editions, rather than 18 months for H1 releases and 30 for H2 releases. Security updates for Windows 11, however, will adhere to the same monthly schedule as Windows 10.
Many of the new features address past criticism of Microsoft’s UX, app offerings, and other areas. And members of the Windows Insider Program can actually download an early version of the new operating system to test drive it. You can join the program for free just by signing up and see for yourself whether it’s a good fit for your business.
While cost, time, and other considerations may persuade you to hold off on upgrading to Windows 11, don’t put it off for too long. Too many crashes and system malfunctions arise from running unsupported software. Moreover, running legacy operating systems puts your organization at heightened risk for ransomware or malware finding its way onto your network. And the repair costs for fixing unsupported systems are substantially higher than those for repairing current ones.
If you’re not sure about upgrading to Windows 11, let’s talk. At MicroXpress, we’ve helped business clients upgrade their operating systems for years. We can help walk you through the pros and cons of an upgrade, as well as the ins and outs of what it will require. We also have the expertise to help you outfit your company with this new powerful operating system if you so choose. Having worked with clients who’ve run outdated systems, we know firsthand the headaches and costs doing so can bring. Contact us today, and let’s discuss how you can upgrade your company’s operating system to Windows 11 in the most efficient and cost-effective manner possible.
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