Is Windows 11 the most cynical release of Windows ever?


Slap on the start menu from the failed Windows10X experiment, change the BSOD color (without breaking the acronym), come up with a bunch of arbitrary new hardware requirements and Bob’s your uncle, a ‘brand new’ Windows version. There does not appear to be anything in Windows 11 that wasn’t originally planned for (or would not work) on Windows 10.


I originally thought Windows Me or 8.1 would be the Windows release with the flimsiest set of ‘improvements’ but after reading through their entries on wikipedia I think Windows 11 now wins the prize for least significant update ever. Am I wrong?

Comments (56)

56 responses to “Is Windows 11 the most cynical release of Windows ever?”

  1. Paul Thurrott

    As I wrote earlier, this thing is just like WIndows XP. And everyone loved Windows XP, eventually.

    • navarac

      XP was a great and significant improvement on its predecessor. That can hardly be said about Windows 11 compared to Windows 10.

    • zakand

      Win11 is nothing like XP. Compared to Win10, it REMOVES features and has no technical advantages at all. The only new thing is the dumbed down UI, which is impossible to use.

    • hrlngrv

      You're human, which means you can make mistakes. Besides, that's your opinion, and others may differ.

      Windows 11 isn't quite as bad as Windows 8, but it's a lot more like Windows 8 than Windows XP.

      Behind the scenes, Windows 11 is indistinguishable from Windows 10. It's just the desktop UI which is changing. Windows 11 is not a grand union of MS-DOS-based and NT branches like XP. It's dumbing down the taskbar: fixing it on the bottom of the screen, no longer supporting dragging files the desktop or File Explorer and dropping them either onto icons pinned on the taskbar or on the end of the taskbar to move or copy it to the desktop, no longer supporting toolbars in the taskbar, no grouping of pinned icons in the Start menu, no way to resize the Start menu.

      What NEWLY ADDED functionality does Windows 11 provide? Widgets? Action center? New & Improved Store?

      • boots

        You forgot to mention that the lower half of the Start menu will end up being a dedicated advertising area.

        • hrlngrv

          1. It shouldn't be labeled Recommendations.
          2. It should be customizable. Not just recent documents, and those recent documents should NOT include anything for which I just created a shortcut.
          3. MSFT may add some customizations. Not by initial release, but maybe by mid 2022.
        • ikjadoon

          For everyone who doubts it IS for ads, ask anyone with Edge.

          I think I've seen three people tell me Microsoft blatantly inserted a "4th of July Deals" shortcut into their most-viewed links. Literally an ad.

      • wright_is

        I would say it is the other way round, on the GUI side, it is just a face-list with rounded corners and a centred taskbar.

        Behind the scenes is where it is/will be different. With the added security features and secure to cloud stuff, that brings it a step towards being a more modern OS. I'm assuming, long term, it will be kicking out more legacy cruft and forcing more secure ways of working - it would be nice if they created an administration account and a user account during initial set-up, it would save me the work of adding an administrator and downgrading the main account on every new PC I set up.

        • hrlngrv

          Do the security improvements require that the taskbar become a XAML desert island?

          • hrlngrv

            More re that point.

            File Explorer, that is, C:\Windows\explorer.exe, provides the entire desktop UI: the Start menu, the taskbar, and the desktop itself. In Windows 11, the taskbar no longer supports drag-and-drop. However, the desktop does still support drag-and-drop.

            I suppose we should consider ourselves lucky MSFT hasn't (yet) gotten around to 'fixing' the desktop the way they have the taskbar.

            • wright_is

              This is an early beta preview, which is not feature complete. If they have re-written the code around the taskbar, I'd guess the functionality would come back over time, before we reach a feature complete release candidate...

        • longhorn

          "and forcing more secure ways of working"

          From Wikipedia TPM article:

          "TCG has faced resistance to the deployment of this technology in some areas, where some authors see possible uses not specifically related to Trusted Computing, which may raise privacy concerns. The concerns include the abuse of remote validation of software (where the manufacturer‍—‌and not the user who owns the computer system‍—‌decides what software is allowed to run) and possible ways to follow actions taken by the user being recorded in a database, in a manner that is completely undetectable to the user.

          The TrueCrypt disk encryption utility does not support TPM. The original TrueCrypt developers were of the opinion that the exclusive purpose of the TPM is "to protect against attacks that require the attacker to have administrator privileges, or physical access to the computer". The attacker who has physical or administrative access to a computer can circumvent TPM, e.g., by installing a hardware keystroke logger, by resetting TPM, or by capturing memory contents and retrieving TPM-issued keys. As such, the condemning text goes so far as to claim that TPM is entirely redundant."

          • hrlngrv

            Consider the case of the stolen laptop. How to get around TPM? Open up the laptop, remove its drive, plug that drive into another computer, spend as much time as possible on brute force decryption.

    • miamimauler

      Which article was that? That seems like it would be an interesting read.

    • wright_is

      Not every one. With the exception of Windows 1 and ME, it is my least liked version of Windows. ;-)

      • hrlngrv

        Windows XP came with Classic theme and Classic Start menu. IOW, it could easily be configured to look exactly like Windows 2000.

        Did you really prefer Windows 2000? IIRC, and I could well be wrong, didn't XP unfubar the mistake which was C:\Documents and Settings with C:\Users? What possessed MSFT to include spaces in a major system directory's name? Few things screwed up so much 3rd party software as needing to enclose %USERPROFILE% and related environment variables in double quotes. NT4 and 95/98/ME still kept user profiles under %SYSTEMROOT%, and those usually didn't have spaces in pathnames.

        • wright_is

          I much preferred Windows 2000. WIndows XP was a buggy, unstable mess for a long time, whereas Windows 2000 was rock solid.

          Yes, I always used the classic shell, when I had to use XP, I couldn't stand the Fisher Price look-and-feel.

    • skyczy08

      I'm more of the mind that Win 11 is more like a shiny piece of wallpaper (pardon the pun) that Windows Vista was to Windows XP. Except this time their hardware support will be better, more cloud integration, gaming focus. This is the Vista we all wanted,

  2. polloloco51

    Windows 11 will be worse than Vista, ME and 8 combined, if Microsoft doesn't ease the arbitrary requirements by launch!

    The requirements, in my view, are entirely made up and phony. This is just from running Windows 10 on three Vista era laptops. If Windows 10 can run on a Core 2 Duo decently. Windows 11 surely could run on a 1st Gen I5 processor, with no problems!

    Windows 11 could easily be an outstanding Windows version, if Microsoft just took notice of people's pleas! No one should have to buy a brand new PC, to upgrade to an incremental OS upgrade. That is just pure utter nonsense!

    Side Note:

    The TPM requirements, are reasonable and understandable. The arbitrary, and asinine processor generation requirements, are not! Hopefully Microsoft will listen, and not repeat their mistakes from the past!

    • zakand

      The more I see of the terrible dumbed down UI, the more I believe Microsoft had an ulterior motive with these requirements. With a product as bad as Win11, they will need to have a good excuse for dismal market share. Now they can claim that most normal PCs just aren’t “good enough” to run it.

      • hrlngrv

        Based on some reading in reddit, it seems it's necessary to watch what Nadella has to say about Windows 11. Per him, it's apparently another stab at making Windows more accessible to people used to modern phone UIs. IOW, screw long-time users, where are they gonna go? Linux? Mac? Most of those who would already have, but a lot of 'em still need to use Windows for a few programs which are only available under Windows.

        • Greg Green

          Wow. Why would anyone in the non tech world who is using a phone go back to Windows, unless dictated by work requirements? The massive shift from PCs to smartphones years ago means the horse has already left the barn and it’s not coming back. Ever.

          the recent upsurge on PCs was only because of work and school at home. Once that’s done there will be a glut of used PCs hitting the market.

    • wright_is

      Each generation of processors brings new features and new security models with it.

      Maybe they want to thin-out the code by not having to program around defects in older chips? Compromise security by having the ability to turn off additional security features of the processor, to accommodate older models that don't have those features. Was Gen. 8 the first to have built-in Spectre and Meltdown countermeasures?

      If the code to circumvent added security is there, then the added security is useless, because the code to circumvent it is always present...

      I just wish Microsoft had made some clear statement, as to whether this is arbitrary or whether there are really good reasons for the cut-off. The back-peddling after the event doesn't help.

      Let's have a clear and concise statement about why the cut-off is there.

      • navarac

        The problem with Microsoft is that they have a problem telling the clear reasons/truth of even what the date is. Seems a lot of BS and waffle to me - typical corporate "crap-speak",

  3. jimchamplin

    7 was the most cynical. They literally charged full price for a service pack ?

  4. samp

    I think Android Apps capability things is a big thing for many (non-geek) users.

    • navarac

      Android apps are the least of my wants on a desktop. Playing up to kids again.

      • bkkcanuck

        Old people die off - especially those that sit behind their computer all day.... young ones will be around a bit longer...

        • Greg Green

          And they’ll continue using their phones. Just watch people at work, the use the PCs for work, and when they want to check social media they grab their phone. When they get home they won’t have a pc, they’ll just use their phone.

        • hrlngrv

          Echos of discussions when Windows 8 was the Great New Path Forward.

          One of the burdens with an OS with over a billion users IS resistance to changes which don't make sense.

          Explanations might help to alleviate the impression Windows 11 changes don't make sense. Giving clear explanations is NOT something MSFT does well. Indeed, it seems to be something MSFT resists until it becomes absolutely necessary and unavoidable. Until then, MSFT's preferred mode of communication is obfuscation, confusion and blather.

      • harmjr

        I want Outlook's android app on my PC. I like it much better then the Windows 10 mail app. For personal email accounts however.

  5. holmes108

    It's just a windows update. Who cares what they call it? It may not be the biggest update, but it's certainly bigger than a typical update. I don't see an issue calling it Windows 11, or Windows 25 for that matter.

    As long as it's a free update, which it is, then as far as I'm concerned they're keeping their word with the whole "last version of windows" statement. Bring it on. I like shiny new things.

  6. zakand

    It’s not just cynical, it’s downright nefarious. What was the thought process here? Take Win10 and instead of fixing its problems, just destroy the UI, add some splashy icons and more ads. Then, alienate your remaining user base by instituting insane and arbitrary hardware requirements so that no one can use the product, all just to make Dell, HP and Lenovo a few extra $$$? Honestly, this is worse than anything Microsoft did in the 90s.

    • garethb

      Perhaps the mandate was to make sure the Azure division outsold Windows...

    • wright_is

      The question is, how arbitrary are the hardware requirements? (And I don't have a single PC that is currently Windows 11 compatible.)

      If it is just to drive sales, I'm with you. But if there are Spectre & Meltdown fixes in the chips that eliminate a bunch of code that slows the system down, or additional security features that bring a real benefit going forward, whilst I find it annoying, I do see the point.

      And, don't forget, Windows 10 is still there for another 4 years fold older PCs, which will put those that can't currently upgrade at 7 - 10 years old, by the time that Windows 10 support ends.

      I wish Microsoft would come out with a hard statement about why the cut-off is Gen. 8 Intel or equivalent. What is it about that generation that makes Gen. 7 or older "unsafe" going forward? I think that would have been preferable to a wishy-washy wait-and-see attitude to, maybe, including older chipsets after all, if they are stable during testing...

      • hrlngrv

        The problem with MSFT publicly explaining their reasons for the 8th gen cut-off could serve as a roadmap for malware targeting 7th gen and earlier as well as giving an indication where more effort would be needed to attack 8th gen and later.

      • Greg Green

        As I mentioned before what they should’ve done is touted the new security in Win 11, but said the security will be maximized with Gen 8 chips and newer. Then allow all to upgrade to it.

        according to some estimates the portion of PCs that are currently ineligible for upgrade is 60-75%.

        I have to wonder about Nadella’s management ability if he couldn’t figure out these requirements would result in an embarrassing acceptance rate for Win 11. He either didn’t care or wasn’t smart enough to ask the right questions.

  7. ghostrider

    WIn11 is a marketing release, turning Windows again more towards a mobile first OS. You can tell by the continued push towards the tablet/touch interface being overhauled. Yes, it was a bit cr*p in Win10, but where are the Windows tablets exactly that can make use of this? There are a few 2-in-1's kicking around, but they normally operate at the very high end where there aren't many sales.

    Truly, Win11 just feels pointless from so many angles - looking at the eye-candy and you see something just designed to re-ignite interest in Windows, which had stalled badly in the last couple of years. The continued dumbing down of the UI is the hardest thing to stomach.

  8. curtisspendlove

    Well, I, for one, never thought I’d see my Macs have less forced obsolescence than my Windows rigs.

    The question: are the gains worth it?

  9. navarac

    I don't think you are wrong. I'm convinced that it is just a way to artificially bump the PC market. It looks very pretty but it is going the "even more dumbed down" route as far as I'm concerned. Unfortunately, it is the way of the world - sales slump - shareholders moan - slap on a bit of new paint - label something as *NEW* - and hope people are daft enough to fall for it all. And, of course a lot do, you've only got to watch Apple-Fanboys to see that.

    I tried the Dev Channel build for a week - that was enough. The start and taskbar have been emasculated and apart from moving a few bits around which buggers your muscle memory to make you think it is new, under the hood it is Windows 10.5 - that's all.

    Back To Windows 10 and mainly Linux (Debian) for me - nothing much to get excited about.

  10. winner

    I think of a road built in the 1980s, and torn up and patched to put in pipes, cable, wires, sewer lines. Every fix is another patch. The sun has buckled the asphalt and it’s been slurry sealed. Mac trucks run over it, creating potholes. Every 3-8 years the city puts a fresh thin veneer of slurry seal on top of the bumps and potholes, and calls it a new road. This is Windows.

  11. bkkcanuck

    I have to disagree. Even if the release of the OS is limited to making the UI consistent (UI makeover) and making security a priority, it is an important change (especially in direction). There have been some miss-steps when it comes to communications and minimum requirements that make sense from the point of view of necessity. There are a long list of things that should be prioritized going forward for future revisions (they basically had 10 lost years due to mismanagement - well worse mismanagement than usual). Unlike last time, I don't think there will be the push to force you to upgrade. The last time the change in licensing to free was expected to be more than offset by revenue from the store, but that was an abysmal failure... this time I think it will revert to ... if you want to update... and you meet the requirements... then upgrade... else Windows 10 will continue to be supported to 2025 (likely a few years on top of that). I suspect minimum requirements (which should mean that any Windows computer will have support for about 10 years minimum). Even without support, the platform will continue to function - though you would have to consider a replacement for Microsoft Defender.

    • navarac

      That is a reasonable argument. However, if support for Windows 11 is only going to be 2/3 years (consumer/business), and Microsoft keeps upping the hardware ante, they will soon find out that people won't be upgrading every 2 years. Then what? Once again people will be using multiple versions of the OS, defeating Microsoft's objective of supporting less versions.

      • wright_is

        I have a feeling, this could be more like dropping 286, 386 and 486 processor support.

        I just did some reading up.

        8th generation Core chips seem to have been first to include hardware fixes for Meltdown and Spectre v2. If this really is the case, it makes a lot of sense to set the cutoff at this generation. It means a lot of code can be thrown away that has to work around these problems, because it is taken care of in hardware.

        If Microsoft back-pedals to allow Gen 7 and Zen 1, it means some of that slow-down code to check for these vulnerabilities and work around them, will still be needed in the Kernel.

  12. navarac

    8 July - Build 22000.65 CU issued. Taskbar buggered even more - all icons are spaced taking almost the width of a large monitor. Totally ridiculous. No obvious way to alter.

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