It looks like Windows 11 is happening. Microsoft will unveil what it's been calling "the next generation of Windows" at a virtual event on Thursday, despite past promises that Windows 10 would be the final version of the operating system. Leaked images of the new version of Windows show off a total redesign, featuring a new Start menu, home screen, and startup sound, and a more modern, Mac-like aesthetic.
Outside of the aesthetics, CNET editors including Jason Hiner, Stephen Shankland, Lori Grunin, and myself have high hopes for what the latest version of Windows could include in terms of performance, productivity, and other features. Here's what we're hoping to see in Windows 11 (or whatever the new version of Windows ends up being called).
One control panel instead of two
A big complaint among Windows 10 users is the confusing split between the Control Panel and the Settings app. A single control panel interface would be a welcome improvement in Windows 11.
Computational videography for webcams
With many people shifting to remote or hybrid work, the need for a solid webcam experience is imperative for all of those Zoom and Teams calls. The iPhone 12 Pro and recent Google Pixel phones already include computational image processing to improve quality. We'd love to see this feature in Windows 11 for webcams, which could also give PCs an edge over the new M1 Macs.
More Mac-like virtual desktops
Macs have a great feature known as Spaces that lets you easily create multiple virtual desktops to keep your screen more orderly. In Windows, doing so takes a few more steps. We'd like to see easier virtual desktop creation and management in Windows 11.
Stop forcing us to use Edge
Microsoft's Chromium-based Edge browser is the default in Windows 10. Of course, you can change it to the browser of your choice, like Chrome, Firefox, or Brave. But some users have reported an issue with Microsoft resetting the default back to Edge. We hope it's easier to set and keep defaults in Windows 11.
Faster Windows updates
Windows 10 represented Microsoft's move to deliver Windows as a service, with continuous updates -- which is great for keeping machines secure. However, these updates can be slow. In Windows 11, we'd like to see an approach more similar to Google's with Chrome OS, where the upgrade occurs in a second partition so it's done in the background.
Faster shutdown, restart and wake from sleep
PCs running Windows 10 can face slower shutdown, restart and wake-from-sleep times, sometimes due to the need to close apps like the Task Manager. We'd like to see those options sped up in the next version.
Three-finger trackpad for drag and drop
MacOS offers the option to use three fingers on the trackpad to drag and drop items. But Windows machines currently make you double click to do this.
Easier options to reverse the scroll direction
Again, MacOS makes it easy to reverse the direction of your mouse scroll if you want to from System Preferences. But in Windows 10, you have to go into the Registry, and it's a more complicated process.
Simple user account creation
In Windows 10, you need to log in to create a new user account, and Microsoft recommends that the new account is also attached to a Microsoft account. We'd like to see easier user account creation without logging in or being pressured to create or connect a Microsoft account.
Improve the setup of multiple cameras, webcam, mics, and headsets
With the rise of work from home, more people are improving their computer setups with multiple webcams, mics and headsets. However, Windows 10 makes it tricky to choose the device you want to use and sometimes requires you to disable one of the others. We'd like to see better options for swapping between multiple devices in Windows 11.
What other features do you want to see in Windows 11? Sound off in the comments below.
For more, check out everything we know so far about Windows 11 and how to download Windows 10 for free if you haven't already.