Windows 11 is almost here, complete with a new look, a new location for your taskbar icons, and a new (and stringent) list of hardware requirements. But a fresh coat of paint is essentially mandatory with a new version of Windows. What we didn’t anticipate was the laundry list of features coming with the new operating system, many of which caught us by surprise.

From Android apps to automatic HDR in games to the glorious return of widgets, here are 7 new Windows 11 features we didn’t expect. You’ll be able to try them out for yourself when the operating system launches on October 5.

Android apps on your Windows 11 PC

Microsoft chief product officer Panos Panay said that he was “pumped” to bring Android apps to the PC, and why wouldn’t he be? Android apps have been one of the advantages of Google’s Chrome OS platform, which powers competing Chromebooks. Their addition to Windows 11 means that the number of apps available to Windows PCs will grow potentially much larger. Microsoft doesn’t frequently break out the number of Windows apps, but in 2018 Microsoft revealed that there were 35 million Windows-capable apps, including legacy software. AppBrain puts the number of Android apps at about 3 million.

android apps on your pc retry Microsoft

Android apps will arrive on Windows 11, but it’s not clear how many Windows 11 will receive.

It’s not clear whether Microsoft will bring every Android app to the PC, as they’ll appear in the Microsoft Store, not a version of the Google Play Store for the PC. And in fact, it’ll be Amazon’s Android app store powering things behind the scenes. Microsoft showed off Khan Academy, Kindle Reader, TikTok, and more in an example screenshot.

To bring Android apps to Windows PCs, Microsoft’s using the Intel Bridge technology, which Intel describes on a high level as a “runtime post-compiler that enables applications to run natively on x86-based devices, including running those applications on Windows.”

It sounds like Windows 11 will be performing that work on your PC, rather than on the Microsoft Store, so that Windows 11 PCs should be able to sideload Android apps and games—eventually, at least. Shortly ahead of Windows 11’s launch, Microsoft announced that Android apps won’t be available on day one.  

Teams Chat in your Taskbar

Like it or not, Microsoft insists that you be able to reach contacts easily from your Windows desktop. It began with the now-defunct People app, then moved to Skype Meet Now in your Taskbar, too. Now it’s moving on to Teams, putting Teams Chat into your Windows 11 taskbar.

teams chat windows 11 microsoft Microsoft

Microsoft is adding Teams Chat to the Taskbar.

“With Windows 11, we’re excited to introduce Chat from Microsoft Teams integrated in the taskbar,” Microsoft said in a blog post introducing Windows 11. “Now you can instantly connect through text, chat, voice or video with all of your personal contacts, anywhere, no matter the platform or device they’re on, across Windows, Android or iOS. If the person you’re connecting to on the other end hasn’t downloaded the Teams app, you can still connect with them via two-way SMS.”



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