Windows 11 may finally be worth upgrading to – thanks to Intel

happy woman using a Windows 10 laptop
(Image credit: Antonio Guillem / Shutterstock)

When Microsoft announced Windows 11 at an event earlier this year, it took many of us by surprise. Windows 10, while far from perfect, is still a perfectly fine operating system, and what Microsoft showed off about its upcoming operating system didn’t initially impress us enough to think it was worth upgrading.

For many, it felt like Windows 11 was just Windows 10 with a few tweaks to the interface. However, we’ve just got a glimpse of a more exciting and revolutionary aspect of Windows 11 that may make you seriously consider upgrading – but the news didn’t come from Microsoft, it came from Intel.

At its recent Architecture Day 2021, Intel explained how it is working with Microsoft to make Windows 11 take full advantage of its upcoming Alder Lake processors. Alder Lake CPUs will be comprised of a ‘Performance Hybrid architecture’, which will use powerful performance cores alongside efficient cores, depending on the tasks you’re running. 

When you need lots of processing power, Alder Lake will use the performance cores, but for less strenuous tasks, the efficient cores will be used instead. This can give you better overall performance while lowering power consumption and could also increase battery life in mobile devices.

Working together

For Alder Lake’s ‘Performance Hybrid architecture’ to work well, it needs to know what kind of tasks you’re using your PC for, and this is where Windows 11 comes in, with Intel explaining, as reported by Neowin, that “To enable this level of fine-grained coordination for real performance, Intel jointly worked with Microsoft to incorporate this revolutionary capability into upcoming Windows 11 release.”

Meanwhile, Mehmet Iyigun, Partner Development Manager at Microsoft, explained that Microsoft has been working closely with Intel throughout Windows 11’s development to “optimize our upcoming OS to take full advantage of the Performance Hybrid architecture.”

This involves using a new feature in Alder Lake called Thread Director, which works with Windows 11’s thread scheduler to assign workloads to either performance cores or efficient cores of the processor.

Better experience for all

So, why does this matter? The fact that Intel and Microsoft are working so closely together means we should see future Intel-based PCs and laptops that run Windows 11 and take full advantage of the Performance Hybrid architecture of Alder Lake.

This is precisely what both Microsoft and Intel need. For Microsoft, it’ll show that Windows 11 is a worthwhile upgrade, and that rather than just being a slight update to Windows 10, it’s a far more revolutionary leap.

As for Intel, a new range of laptops and PCs based on its hardware that runs Windows 11 and offer greater performance and battery life compared to its competitors, could help it regain some of the mindshare it’s lost to a resurgent AMD.

Above all, this partnership should benefit consumers the most, as we could be in for some excellent laptops and PCs in the future.

Matt Hanson
Managing Editor, Core Tech

Matt is TechRadar's Managing Editor for Core Tech, looking after computing and mobile technology. Having written for a number of publications such as PC Plus, PC Format, T3 and Linux Format, there's no aspect of technology that Matt isn't passionate about, especially computing and PC gaming. Ever since he got an Amiga A500+ for Christmas in 1991, he's loved using (and playing on) computers, and will talk endlessly about how The Secret of Monkey Island is the best game ever made.