Microsoft shows Windows 11, first major overhaul in six years

Microsoft Corp on Thursday showed Windows 11, which will hit markets toward the end of this year and is the first major revamp of its Windows operating system since 2015.

The software that turned Microsoft into a household name and dominated personal computers for years has been overtaken in popularity by devices using Apple and Google software, but it is still core to Microsoft’s strength in the corporate market.

And the upgraded operating system may also appeal to individuals, who have helped drive sales of PCs sharply higher over the past year due to work-from-home practices adopted during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Microsoft said Windows 11 will include new features aimed a business users, specifically those who use it with an external monitor. One new feature, for example, will automatically adjust apps to a single screen when users undock a machine to take a call in a quieter room and then readjust them when the user re-docks the machine. Other features include ways to show recent files even when they have been viewed on a different device such as a phone.

Microsoft may also give more details at Thursday’s online launch event on its plans for a revamped Windows Store.

The company recently cut commissions on games sold through the store to 12%, lower than the 15% it takes on regular apps, and has been a vocal critic of Apple Inc’s App Store, which charges 30% commissions and requires developers to use Apple’s in-app payments systems.

Windows powered Microsoft’s rise in the 1990s as PCs became a fixture among businesses and consumers. But the operating system took a back seat to Apple’s iOS and Alphabet Inc’s Google as mobile phones displaced PCs as the primary computing device for billions of users.

Windows remains one of the biggest platforms in the technology world, with Microsoft’s personal computing segment, which includes Windows revenue from businesses and consumers, accounting for $48.2 billion of its $143 billion in revenue in its most recent fiscal year.

Windows 10, the most recent version, has 1.3 billion users, nearly as many as Apple’s total installed device base of 1.65 billion users but less than half of Alphabet’s 3 billion Android users.

Among PCs and laptops, Windows lost some market share in 2020 to Google’s Chromebooks as schools opted for cheaper devices for online learning but still retained greater than 80% market share, according to data firm IDC.

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