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Windows 11 is the next major release of the Windows operating system from Microsoft, and includes a major overhaul of the user interface with translucent windows, new icons, fonts, and rounded corners. A more noticeable change is the start menu and taskbar, which are now centred.

windows 11 desktop

Although for die hard Windows fans, you can still align the taskbar to the left if you prefer. It’s worth noting that the centred approach is easier to use, as the start button and apps are more easily accessible with a mouse. If you want to put the menu back on the left, right-click on the taskbar, select “taskbar settings”. Click  on “taskbar behaviours” to open up the options. Under  “Taskbar alignment” click on the drop down menu to the right that says “center”. Change this to “left”.

The start menu is quite different from Windows 10. The tiles have been removed and you now have a streamlined menu with app icons along the top, and recently opened files or apps along the bottom.

Windows 11 start menu

Windows Search has been reduced to a magnifying glass icon on the task bar

windows search on taskbar in windows 11

When you click the icon, you to search for apps, files and settings.

Windows 11 search

New snap layouts make multi tasking easier. This feature allows you to quickly arrange your windows on the screen using various pre-set templates. Just hover your mouse over the maximise icon on the top right of the window, then select a layout.

Windows 11 snap layouts

File Explorer has been redesigned with a more modern looking interface. The ribbon along the top has been reduced to some commonly used tools. You’ll also see some new icons for devices, files and folders.

Windows 11 File Explorer

You’ll find file explorer on the taskbar.

file explorer icon

The Settings App has also been redesigned, giving a more intuitive and consistent look across the available settings. The main categories are now listed down the left hand side, with settings in the categories appearing in the right hand panel. 

windows 11 settings app

You’ll find the settings app on the start menu.

Settings app icon on start menu in windows 11

A new redesigned Microsoft Store store plus android apps.

microsoft store in windows 11

You’ll find the Microsoft Store on your start menu.

Microsoft Store icon on start menu in windows 11

Microsoft Teams has been integrated into Windows 11 allowing better connectivity. You’ll be able to access this feature using the chat icon on the taskbar.

chat on windows 11

Find more information in our accompanying textbook: Exploring Windows 11. Click the book cover for more info.

Exploring Windows 11