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Windows 11 desktop to get new customization tricks: Here's how you'll use them

We'll explain everything you need to know about Windows Widgets, Desktops, Snap Layouts, Snap Groups and more.

microsoft windows 11 announcement june 24 2021

Widgets are one of the new features found in Windows 11.

Microsoft/Screenshot by Sarah Tew/CNET

It's official -- Windows 11 is coming. Microsoft unveiled new upgrades at Thursday's Windows 11 event (here's everything Microsoft announced) with the No. 1 goal being simplicity and efficiency for its devices and apps. Microsoft introduced new ways you can customize and personalize your devices to give you more control -- whether browsing or working. 

More people are working in hybrid office situations, between work and home. And they may want to switch between work and personal browsing on their PC. With new Windows 11 features, it should be easier to toggle between your personal and work tabs, apps and desktops. 

You can expect some design changes from the normal Windows interface and some features that are similar to iOS. Even though a lot will remain the same, there are some big updates you can look forward to. We'll break it down for you. 

What are Windows Widgets? 

The new Windows Widgets create an AI-powered personalized feed of the latest news, sports, weather and other updates, based on your interests (similar to those found in a recent Windows 10 taskbar update). Once you download Windows 11 (more on that below), you'll access Widgets from a new tab on the Taskbar. You can resize and arrange the widgets to see what's most important to you. 

Microsoft's Widgets feature is similar to iOS widgets. But the information can even be localized, and you can support local content creators and writers by giving them a tip. 

Windows 11 Widgets

You'll find Windows Widgets on touchscreen devices, too.

Microsoft/Screenshot by Sarah Tew/CNET

How do Snap Layouts and Snap Groups work? 

A new Snap Layouts feature helps multitaskers organize apps and windows for easier access. You can group the apps and websites you're using together, and then open the group at once from the Taskbar, instead of individually minimizing and maximizing windows. 

If you're used to docking your computer to a monitor, you'll no longer have to rearrange open apps after undocking. Everything stays in place on your PC desktop with Snap Groups, to make it easier to jump back into a project from your monitor to your laptop screen. 


Snap Layouts let you keep multiple windows grouped together.


Windows virtual desktops, gestures and more 

Windows also added several new features that make your PC desktop more Mac-like. Now, you can easily toggle between different virtual desktops that you can design for gaming, work or personal interests to keep you organized and working efficiently. 

Windows also introduced voice typing and commands across Windows 11, a popular feature for Apple users. 

For artists and note-takers, Windows 11 adds pen haptics to make drawing, writing and highlighting more immersive. 

Other popular Windows 10 interactive features remain, like snapping and gestures for Windows tablets, so you can detach the keyboard and still make the most of the tablet as you would with a laptop touchpad.

Now playing: Watch this: Windows 11: Top new features in 2021

When is the Windows 11 release date?

The official Windows 11 release date is still unknown, but you can look out for it around the 2021 holiday season. An early beta version will be available next week for those in the Windows Insiders Program. If you're already a Windows user, you're in luck, because Windows 10 users will be able to download Windows 11 for free when it's time. However, Microsoft is requiring users to register their devices online before downloading. 

If you're looking at buying a new device to get the latest software, it's best to check whether your current laptop will work with Windows 11 first to cut costs. 

For more, check out everything to know about Windows 11, every big difference between Windows 10 and Windows 11, and how to use Android apps on Windows 10 right now