Windows 11 launches October 5 – and it’s targeting gamers

"The first version of a new era of Windows"

Microsoft has announced the launch date for its next major operating system, Windows 11, while also emphasising how it will benefit PC gamers.

The latest update to the Windows infrastructure will arrive on October 5, when the free upgrade path will begin rolling out to eligible Windows 10 PCs. PCs with Window 11 installed by default will also begin to go on sale from that date.

In a blog post today (August 31), Microsoft called the new OS “the first version of a new era of Windows”. It also outlines the improvements it aims to deliver with Windows 11, with a “modern, fresh, clean and beautiful” approach to design and, interestingly, sounds; a refined Start menu; better multitasking through the new ‘Snap’ feature; and chat from Microsoft Teams integrated into the taskbar.

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It’s gaming that gets the biggest focus though, with Microsoft hyping Windows 11’s ability to deliver “technology like DirectX12 Ultimate, DirectStorage and Auto HDR”. It also highlights the benefits of Xbox Game Pass for PC, which provides access to a rotating library of games for a monthly subscription.

Perhaps more interestingly for gamers though is the fact that Windows 11 brings a brand new Microsoft Store. Not only will it offer more integration of Android apps, which will likely increase the number of apps with cross-platform compatibility, in the long run, but it is also “opening the Store to allow more developers and independent software vendors (ISVs) to bring their apps to the Store”.

Although this move isn’t explicitly targeted at game developers, more accessibility could be a huge benefit for indie devs in particular, while also increasing competition with Steam and Epic Games Store.

The rollout of Windows 11 “will be phased and measured with a focus on quality”, Microsoft says, “following the tremendous learnings from Windows 10”. This means the newest devices will get the upgrade first, followed by existing machines. Microsoft will determine rollout speed based on “intelligence models” that will factor in “hardware eligibility, reliability metrics, age of the device and other factors that impact the upgrade experience”.

The company expects “all eligible devices to be offered the free upgrade to Windows 11 by mid-2022”. The Windows Update tool will automatically notify owners when the upgrade is available, or users can check manually by going to Settings > Windows Update and selecting ‘check for updates’. The minimum system specs for Windows 11 can be found here.

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In other PC gaming news, a Minecraft player is set on rebuilding all of the world wonders from Civilization VI, while the largest known mod for Diablo II just got overhauled and made even bigger.

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