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Windows 11 gets a launch date.  It’s surprisingly soon

Starting October 5, the company will begin a “phased and measured” approach to free upgrades, in which newer devices will take priority over older devices. Microsoft previously said it plans to release Windows 11 next year.

All eligible users will receive the free upgrade by mid-2022.

The new software features visual improvements, integration with Microsoft Teams, and a new Microsoft store, among other changes announced in June.

Perhaps one of the most significant changes that Windows 11 has made is a Start menu and a new Start button centered on the taskbar. The menu opens a window with pinned apps, recently opened “recommended” documents, and a search bar.

Microsoft (MSFT) Teams will also be integrated directly into Windows 11 and will have their own icon in the taskbar. For gamers, the new operating system will bring an “Auto HDR” feature that will automatically improve the color and lighting of game screens, a technology first introduced in Microsoft’s Xbox consoles.

The launch of Windows 11 comes six years after Microsoft’s last operating system overhaul with Windows 10, a major upgrade that now runs on around 1.3 billion devices worldwide, according to CCS Insight . Compared to the substantial change from Windows 8 to Windows 10, Windows 11 is not a “revolutionary step,” said Geoff Blaber, CEO of CCS.

“Windows 11 is an iterative version,” Blaber said. “Microsoft is making adjustments in areas that have the potential to evolve the user experience, engagement, and ever-growing reach of Office 365 applications.”

– Clare Duffy of CNN Business contributed to this report.