Windows 11 setup experience

So I just built a Raptor Lake desktop (13900K) and installed a fresh copy of Windows 11 on it having never used Windows 11 before now. Although it looked nicer than Windows 10 setup, I was expecting it to go much smoother. It felt like not a lot of work was done on anything other than a happy setup path where everything goes well.

Windows 11 Field Guide helped in a few places, but here are a few issues I encountered:

  1. No built-in drivers for my LAN or WLAN controller. There was no option to proceed without a network. At one point, I could not proceed in setup at all until I figured out how to bring up an in-setup command prompt and manually add drivers. However, after I added drivers and re-scanned devices the LAN still didn’t work.
  2. I was installing Windows 11 Pro but with the above glitch there was no way to start from the beginning joined to a domain. There was a greyed-out (ish) option to join to a domain, that looked disabled but when clicked took me to an Azure AD sign-in prompt (not the same thing as on-prem domain) and when that failed it told me to click “Back” to try a different method, but there was no Back link or button. It was a messy merge of multiple UIs.
  3. I gave up an did the command prompt OOBE option to disable the network requirement, which made a change and restarted setup, but by then the network driver I had installed in step 1 started working. I still couldn’t join a domain but it did download some setup updates.
  4. I ended up being able to create a local account but archaically had to create three “security questions”
  5. Install completed and I manually joined my domain and proceeded from there.

So, after that mess it is working alright now. That was not a very good setup experience – especially to be blocked from proceeding without a network on a Pro edition.

I used my purchased Windows 8 Pro product key to activate. I am upgrading from a Core i7-7700K Windows 10 Pro license, which I suspect I activated with the same Windows 8 key years ago and Windows 11 Pro activated without raising any issues. In the past, I’d have had to call Microsoft because of the full hardware change but not so far. This was a full hardware replacement – the only thing carried over was 2 optical drives and the keyboard/mouse/monitor.

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