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These core apps look very different in Windows 11

Most of the Windows apps are simply being updated to look like Windows 11. But some are receiving new features, too.

- BY MARK HACHMAN

Windows 11 won’t just change the Windows operating system—it will change the way some Windows apps look and feel, too. Though Windows 11 will launch this fall, Microsoft has already been highlighti­ng several Windows apps that it is updating for Windows 11.

So far, Microsoft has shown off several Windows apps that it’s reworking, including what you might consider core Windows apps: Mail and Calendar, Paint, and even the lowly Clock app. Below, we’ll show you what to expect of these new apps within Windows 11. (Keep in mind that Windows 11 is officially in beta [ go.pcworld.com/ bt11]. Things may change between now and the final release.)

1. CLOCK (FOCUS SESSIONS)

Perhaps the most unexpected­ly interestin­g update to Windows 11’s suite of Windows

apps is the lowly Clock app. Now, in addition to the usual suite of Timers, Alarms, a Stopwatch, and a World Clock, Microsoft has added Focus Sessions and Microsoft To-do.

Microsoft describes Focus Sessions as a major new feature, and it’s easy to see why. If you’re the type of person who concentrat­es best when music plays, you’ll love Focus Sessions and its integratio­n with Spotify. Focus Sessions allows you to block out a period of time, with a literal stopwatch counting it down. During the

Focus Session, you can connect your account to Spotify and ask it to play classical music, electronic, trance—whatever keeps you in the zone. (There’s a mute button, too, in case you receive a call.)

The Clock app also includes integratio­n with To-do, so you can accomplish tasks and check them off. Finally, you’ll even be able to configure “streaks”—a habit-building feature that’s part of Microsoft Rewards—to set a daily goal and then accomplish it, day after day.

2. PHOTOS

Microsoft doesn’t appear to be doing too much to the Photos app within Windows 11, though we can see at least one new element to the user interface—a row of thumbnail images

at the bottom of the screen. This image comes from a teaser that Microsoft chief product officer Panos Panay posted to Twitter.

Otherwise, Photos has added the familiar rounded corners and other visual elements of Windows 11.

3. PAINT

Microsoft Paint has rolled successful saves against death many times over, surviving decisions to deprecate the beloved utility in 2017 ( go. pcworld.com/ blut) as well as relegate it to a downloadab­le app ( go. pcworld.com/dnap). In 2019, Microsoft said Paint would remain a part of Windows 10 for now ( go.pcworld. com/remn).

The decision by Microsoft chief product officer Panos Panay to show off a new look for Paint in Windows 11 affirms that Paint has survived yet again. In a video, Panay revealed what looks more like a user-interface update than any major change in functional­ity ( go. pcworld.com/vdeo). (One omission is the reference to Paint3d that currently exists with Windows 10’s Paint.) Still, updating the

iconograph­y as well as the drop-down functional­ity is a welcome step, and simply putting in the work shows that Microsoft remains committed to Paint as a whole.

4. CALCULATOR

Calculator is a surprising­ly powerful tool hidden within Windows 10, though most people probably use it merely for numerical calculatio­ns. Inside it is a graphing calculator (remember to expand the app’s window to use all of its functional­ity!), the ability to convert measuremen­ts and currencies, a scientific and programmer calculator, and more. None of that functional­ity appears to be changing for Windows 11, but the app will include a new theme setting. It’s also been rewritten in C#, which Microsoft did as a way to allow the public to contribute to the app on Github, code in new features, and update the app more frequently over time.

5. SNIPPING TOOL

Anyone who captures screenshot­s regularly should know that Microsoft has not one but two tools for doing so: the legacy Snipping Tool, and the newer Snip & Sketch. For years, Microsoft has posted a notice in the former app that it would be replaced by Snip & Sketch…but now that doesn’t appear to be the case.

“Both the classic Snipping Tool and Snip & Sketch apps have been replaced by a new Snipping Tool app that represents the best experience­s of both apps in the next evolution of screen capture for Windows,” Microsoft’s Dave Grochocki wrote in a blog post ( go.pcworld. com/dvgr).

Panay showed off a revamped Snipping Tool that uses the Snip & Sketch shortcut (Win + Shift + S) but leaves the other snipping options unchanged. Aesthetica­lly, the app now has the rounded corners and other visual cues of Windows 11—even dark mode. There will be some additional editing tools for annotation­s and improved cropping functional­ity as well.

6. MAIL AND CALENDAR

Last but not least are Windows 11’s own Mail and Calendar apps, which eliminate a lot of the visual clutter within Outlook and provide a simplified, streamline­d experience. Microsoft doesn’t seem to be planning to change anything here, simply giving the user interface the familiar rounded corners of Windows 11.

 ?? ??
 ?? ?? Microsoft is redesignin­g the Photos app within Windows 11.
Microsoft is redesignin­g the Photos app within Windows 11.
 ?? ?? Microsoft has dramatical­ly revamped its Windows 11 Clock app, adding Focus Sessions with Spotify integratio­n.
Microsoft has dramatical­ly revamped its Windows 11 Clock app, adding Focus Sessions with Spotify integratio­n.
 ?? ?? The updated Windows 11 Paint app has a more intuitive interface.
The updated Windows 11 Paint app has a more intuitive interface.
 ?? ?? Windows 11 Photos will also allow you to compare photograph­s.
Windows 11 Photos will also allow you to compare photograph­s.
 ?? ?? The Windows Calculator app (shown here within Windows 11) hides some powerful features like this graphing calculator.
The Windows Calculator app (shown here within Windows 11) hides some powerful features like this graphing calculator.
 ?? ?? For now, Microsoft isn’t doing much with Mail and Calendar except for updating the user interface.
For now, Microsoft isn’t doing much with Mail and Calendar except for updating the user interface.
 ?? ?? Microsoft has revamped the Snipping Tool.
Microsoft has revamped the Snipping Tool.

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