Windows 11 looks very modern in comparison to its predecessor. It scraps the sharp edges and straight lines found throughout Windows 10, switching to softer curves and rounded corners. Every app and system icon has been re-engineered from the ground-up so that everything looks apiece – something that definitely isn’t the case if you delve deep enough in the File Explorer or Control Panel in Windows 10 where some system icons from the late 90s still linger.

There’s also a panel of interactive widgets that can be swiped over whatever you’re doing on-screen. These small widgets can track share prices, show headlines from news websites, present the forecast for the next few days, and more. You can also swipe to fill the entire display with these widgets, which replace the Live Tiles that were found inside the Start Menu on Windows 10 and showcased some information from inside the app on the icon itself – saving you from a click if you wanted to quickly check the weather.

But it’s the Start Menu that is the biggest change in Windows 11.

With Windows 11, Microsoft has decided to centre the Start Menu on the taskbar that runs along the bottom of the screen. The rounded corners found everywhere else on the operating system have also made the cut on the new Start Menu which springs up in the middle of your screen when clicked. A grid of 18 pinned apps make up the top half of the new Start Menu design, while the bottom is taken up with Recommendations from Microsoft. 

So, let’s get down to brass tax… what is all this going to cost?

Windows 11: can you download and install Windows 11 for free?

With all of the work that’s gone into the new design and features, you could be forgiven for assuming that Microsoft will charge a handsome fee for Windows 11. However, we have reason to believe that’s not going to be the case. At least, not at first.

The leaked version of Windows 11 that surfaced online ahead of the event seems to confirm that Windows 11 will be a free upgrade for anyone running a paid-for version of Windows 10, Windows 7, Windows 8 or Windows 8.1. As long as you have a valid software licence on your machine, you’ll be able to upgrade to the all-new operating system with a single tap.

However, this wasn’t confirmed by Microsoft during the official announcement. That said, the company did say that it was possible to buy “Windows 11-ready devices now”, which suggests there will be an upgrade programme possible for new devices. Of course, this could be a paid upgrade, so we’re still in the dark about whether Windows 11 will cost you.

If you’re building a new PC from scratch, we’d assume that Microsoft will still sell brand-new software licences to download and install Windows 11. But for those with Windows 10 running on their laptop, desktop PC, or tablet who want to get the latest version, it’s possible this will be treated like any other quarterly update – just like Windows 10 did at launch.

For those who don’t remember, Microsoft offered a similarly generous promotion after the launch of Windows 10. This was designed as a way to get as many people as possible onto the latest iteration of the desktop software to avoid supporting too many versions of Windows.

It’s possible that Microsoft will take the same approach this time around. Windows 11 is set to launch “later this year,” so we’ll hopefully hear more about the upgrade costs – if there are any – in the coming weeks and months. Stay tuned.