Teams is already part of the future: Microsoft gives a preview of Windows 11

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The announced Windows 11 operating system is all about the pandemic: Communication via Teams and a gaming app for the new Xbox are to be included directly. The company is also opening up for apps from Android, for example. The menu navigation via the start button will also be changed.

Microsoft has presented a new generation of its Windows PC operating system after six years. One of the innovations in Windows 11 is that Microsoft’s Teams software for video conferencing and collaboration in the office will be directly integrated. Also built in via a new Xbox app is the company’s Games Pass gaming subscription. The pandemic has seen a surge in the use of video conferencing and computer games.

In addition to Windows programs, people will be able to use apps for Google’s Android operating system on their computers, the company announced Thursday. They will come to the platform via Amazon’s Android store and will be made to run using technology from chip company Intel. Windows 11 also redesigns various controls – including the Start button and associated menus, which now default to the center of the taskbar instead of the edge.

By far the majority of laptops and desktop computers around the world run Windows, although Apple has been making gains with its Mac computers of late. Windows 10, introduced in mid-2015, has now largely supplanted older versions and runs on about 80 percent of Windows computers, according to market researchers.

Windows Vista bugs prevented

Industry analyst J.P. Gownder of Forrester Research pointed out that the new Windows is launching in an era of hybrid working from the office and home office. He said the new operation gives the software a chance to stand out. At the same time, he welcomed the fact that the basic software code is still from Windows 10 – mitigating the risk that previous programs and device drivers will no longer work, as they once did with Windows Vista. Unlike Apple, Microsoft is sticking to allowing Windows devices to be operated with both keyboards and touchscreens. The iPhone company, on the other hand, consistently does not allow its Mac computers to be controlled via the screen.

App developers can integrate their own payment methods on the Windows platform, and Microsoft will not charge a fee for doing so, the company emphasized. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella set big goals for the new Windows in a closing statement. “The world needs a more open platform today. One that allows apps to become platforms themselves,” he said. Microsoft’s aspiration, he said, is for Windows 11 to become the platform for the next Web or a groundbreaking new category of software.

Nadella’s calls for more openness and choice have particular significance given the current debate over Apple and Google’s business model around apps. As developers of the two remaining smartphone platforms, they take a 15 to 30 percent levy on digital app revenues. Games provider Epic Games (“Fortnite”), which wants to operate its own app store on the iPhone, took the matter to court. A verdict is still pending following the recently concluded trial in California. Epic had received support from Microsoft in the proceedings.

Slack criticizes bundling of Office programs

At the same time, Microsoft’s integration of Teams itself opens a flank for criticism from rival providers. After all, rival Slack complained to the EU Commission a year ago about the bundling of Teams with Office programs. By embedding it in the operating system, Microsoft is now going one step further. Microsoft manager Yusuf Mehdi assured in an interview with the financial service Bloomberg that competitor services such as Slack or Zoom would also benefit from all the new features of Windows 11.

In the 1990s, Microsoft was targeted by antitrust lawsuits after bundling its Internet Explorer Web browser with Windows. The pre-installed Microsoft browser caused Netscape’s flagship software usage to plummet. Microsoft was nearly crushed over the allegations and has since acted very cautiously on competition issues.

A concrete release date for Windows 11 was not mentioned – it is expected in the fall, along with new devices from PC manufacturers that already have the operating system installed.

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