Windows 11 brings a variety of improvements and changes, designed around enhancing the Windows experience for pen and touchscreen users.
You may have noticed that, while it remains relatively similar to Windows 10, Windows 11 has had something of a facelift and its UI (User Interface) has been somewhat decluttered, especially the Start Menu.
This is partially due to a shift in design in general to keep the software looking modern, but it’s also their latest attempt to make Windows into a hybrid desktop-tablet-laptop-friendly system, and facilitate users who may move between all of these form factors – even on one device.
For example, some of their flagship Surface products (and others similar to them) can be used as tablets – but also have keyboards available, transforming them into laptops. With desktop docks also available to connect them to external devices, monitors, networks and storage, they are capable of becoming a desktop PC, too.
Microsoft have long been trying to come up with a design that suits both desktop and touch users, and with Windows 11 they may have made something of a breakthrough. Many of the design changes are cues taken from iOS and Android, and serve to make the platform more accessible overall.
Rather than activating a specific “Tablet Mode” as it has had in previous iterations, work has been done to make one singular experience work across all forms; it adapts dynamically to the way you want to use it.
Along with general design and interface improvements to help touchscreen users, Microsoft has once again added gestures – only this time, they’re more like what you’d expect from an iOS or Android tablet.
Swipe to invoke or dismiss the start menu like you would open and close an app drawer, a pull-out notifications pane to contain important information and notifications, and even a swipe quick settings section like you’d find on today’s popular mobile OSes.
Gestures such as pinch-zoom, and multi-touch or swipe gestures like scrolling or context menu (“right-click”) are also available to laptop users via their touchpad, which could potentially make a lot of tasks faster and provide easy access to important information.
Microsoft are also working on a full screen “gripper” function which makes it less likely that your ordinary touch actions will be mistaken for a gesture. For example, if you’re dragging something from or near the edge of the screen – we think it’ll be interesting to see how well this works in preventing accidental swipes or gestures taking you out of a full-screen app.