Microsoft’s Windows 11 announcement: All the free upgrades coming this fall

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Microsoft’s next major software update, Windows 11, is designed to work with as many apps as possible. It’ll also include Xbox technology and Android apps.

When you choose a computer or smartphone to buy these days, you have to pick between several factions. There’s Apple worls, which includes the Mac computer, iPhones and iPads, all designed to work together to help you share files, video chat and watch TV as easily as possible. There’s also Google land, whose Android software powers an array of phones, tablets and computers. But with Windows 11, Microsoft wants to break that mold.

The software giant said Thursday that its next major version of Windows will launch as a free upgrade this fall, offering a host of new features that in some ways appear designed to position Microsoft as the company whose products work with ones from Apple, Google and pretty much anyone else.

The company’s expanding its support for the Android app for example, allowing people to more easily run phone apps on their computer. Microsoft’s building its Teams software into Windows in a similar way as Apple’s FaceTime is built into Macs — except Microsoft doesn’t want it to be exclusive. There’s already a Microsoft Teams app for Mac, iPhones and Androids. (Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella even told a reporter he’d be happy to accept FaceTime onto Microsoft computers.)

“With Windows 11, we have a renewed sense of Windows’ role in the world,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said while announcing the new software Thursday. “Today, the world needs a more open platform, one that allows apps to become a platform in their own right. Windows is a platform where things that are bigger than Windows can be born, like the web.”

Microsoft’s move to upgrade Windows comes at a time when demand for computers is higher than it’s ever been. Over the past year, the pandemic upended billions of lives and forced many people to work from home. That meant many of them needed new computers, better internet connections and peripherals like large monitors to display their work. Now, as vaccines allow some countries to begin reopening, workers are pushing for hybrid work options, effectively making their home office experience permanent.

For tech companies, that’s meant a boom in demand that’s helped lead to chip and other supply shortages across the industry. Still, analysts estimate laptop and desktop computers may see their highest-ever sales this year.

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