2021 is a big year in terms of news, including new hardware, major software updates, and one of the best years for gaming that Microsoft has seen in a long time. At Windows Central, we announced more than 1,000 news this year, including Microsoft’s announcement of Windows 11, the launch of new Surface hardware, and the release of Halo Infinite. From insider news to product launches, here are the biggest news from 2021 regarding Windows, Xbox, and all things Microsoft.
A brand new version of Windows
For years, it was thought that Windows 10 would be the last version of Windows. That turned out not to be the case, as Microsoft released Windows 11 in October 2021. The new operating system builds on Windows 10 in a number of ways, including supporting all the apps from its predecessor. . Windows 11 has modernized several elements of the OS, including the Start menu, icons, and Taskbar.
This move towards simplicity has been met with mixed reactions. Although Windows 11 has cut back on some of the complexity of the operating system interface, it lacks some features found in Windows 10. In addition, the Start menu and Taskbar have drawn criticism. Many people have been searching for the best apps to customize Windows 11 to restore the look and feel of previous versions of Windows and lost functions.
Windows 11 had problems before launch. A confusing set of minimum requirements and mixed signals from Microsoft’s eligibility tool make it difficult to tell if some systems will be able to upgrade to Windows 11. The TPM 2.0 requirement is a limiting factor for many computers. As a result of this confusion, the Windows user base has split up to a certain point. While tech-savvy people know about the limitations and how to work around them, some consumers in general are still confused as to why their PC isn’t seeing an update option.
Windows 11 recipients already have access to a number of new features and the new Microsoft Store. A new attempt at attracting developers to work with Windows has proven successful as several major companies have put their apps on the Microsoft Store, including Adobe, Zoom, and OBS. The move to allow unpackaged apps is a big boost for Windows, as is the option for developers to use their own revenue streams.
Players received a number of exciting features in their upgrade to Windows 11. Many of these are already available on Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S. Auto HDR works with over 1,000 DirectX 11 and DirectX games 12. Live Storage improves load times and takes advantage of the best SSDs. DirectX 12 Ultimate also includes developer features, including Raytracing 1.1, variable scale shading, and Sampler Response.
While Windows 11 has a refreshed look and new features, many see it as an optional update, at least for the time being. The operating system will continue to improve as Microsoft rolls out new features, such as Android app support. Those who want it can now have upgraded. Those who don’t feel the need to update can wait a while as Windows 10 will remain supported until 2025.
A bunch of new Surface devices
As usual, Microsoft released some new Surface hardware in 2021. This year, the company launched Surface Pro 8, Surface Go 3, and Surface Duo 2. It also introduced Surface Laptop Studio, a computer Unique portable with floating screen.
The Surface Pro 8 has seen a design refresh that makes it more in line with the Surface Pro X (though it’s a bit thicker than its Windows-on-ARM sibling). In many ways, the Surface Pro 8 represents the pinnacle of form factor. It has a 13.3-inch 120Hz display, supports Thunderbolt 4, and has a great webcam. The new slim Pen 2 with sensor pairs with Surface Pro 8 for an improved handwriting experience. Our executive editor Daniel Rubino says that “Surface Pro 8 has finally unleashed its full potential with a brand new redesign for 2021.”
Surface Laptop Studio introduces a new form factor to the PC space. It has a floating display that can be placed in different positions to facilitate multiple workflows. Of course, one of those positions is that of a traditional clamshell laptop. In that category, the Surface Laptop Studio stacks up against the Razer Blade 15 and HP ENVY x360 15.
The Surface Go 3 is a more modest refresh than its siblings. It resembles the Surface Go 2 in every way except for its processor. Although the device does not support any new features, the input sample is 60% more powerful than the Go 2.
Unlike the rest of the Surface family, the Surface Duo 2 is an Android-powered mobile device. It is a sequel to the original Surface Duo, which received mixed reviews due to its buggy software. The Surface Duo 2 has a significantly better camera setup than its predecessor and also has thinner bezels. The hinge also has a Glance Bar that can display notifications when the door is closed, although that feature isn’t very flexible.
More important than internal improvements and general hardware specs, Microsoft focused on the software experience with the Duo 2. While it’s far from perfect, it’s noticeably smoother than the first Duo, which is still far from perfect. get Android 11. Microsoft has also supported Duo 2 better than the original Duo so far, including a daily update and a critical update in December.
A big year for gaming and Xbox
2021 is proving to be one of the biggest years ever for Xbox. While the Xbox Series X and S launched in 2020, the entire Xbox franchise saw a big boost this year. Consoles were born and new games took advantage of updated hardware.
Xbox Game Pass added several big-name titles this year, including MLB The Show and Outriders in the spring. Psychonauts 2 and Football Manager 2022 are also available this year.
Those titles are just appetizers compared to Halo Infinite, Forza Horizon 5, and Age of Empires IV, all of which are available on Xbox Game Pass and PC Game Pass on their respective launch dates.
Microsoft’s acquisition of Bethesda is completed in 2021, which will only help the company’s game library going forward. Games from Bethesda should also diversify the Xbox’s first-party lineup a bit.
Global chip shortage continues
The ongoing global chip shortage started before 2021, but it continues throughout the year. Component shortages have affected the availability of the best GPUs, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, and PlayStation 5. Scalpers only make matters worse, making it nearly impossible to get the best GPUs. new equipment.
NVIDIA has launched several RTX 30-Series GPUs in 2021. While these are great graphics cards, they are hard to buy. Scalpers and bots devour any stock available, creating an expensive second-hand market. To get high-end graphics, some gamers bought the best RTX 3080 laptops.
AMD has also released several high-end graphics cards this year from its RX 6000 series. Like competing cards from NVIDIA, it is difficult to find AMD GPUs in stock. For example, the RX 6800 is a great GPU for QHD gaming, but it’s out of stock at every retailer.
Some surprising stories
While not the biggest stories about the reliability of traditional news, some stories have captured the interest of our readers more than others. These stand out for covering surprising topics or garnering an unexpected amount of interest.
Earlier this year, a hidden message was found on the new White House website. It was just an invitation to apply for jobs related to coding, but it gained quite a bit of traction. Large companies often hide similar messages on their websites, but the invitation from the White House has attracted attention due to the size of the Office.
Despite Microsoft releasing Windows 11 this year, Armenians seem to prefer Windows XP. According to StatCounter, as of September 2021, 53.5% of desktops in the country run Windows XP. It’s not clear why so many Armenian desktops run XP, but the numbers don’t lie.
Forza Horizon 5 is one of the best games coming out in 2021. Soon after this game came out, a strange trend emerged. As part of an effort to rapidly progress in the game, people will buy hundreds of Willys Jeeps, earn Super Wheelspins, and then give the cars away to a random player. As a result, thousands of Willys Jeeps flooded the Forza Horizon fan base.