Windows 11 Review: Fresh, Familiar, Incomplete

Posted on October 4, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 11 with 83 Comments

Microsoft should have taken more than three months to publicly test its first major Windows release in over six years: Windows 11 is pretty, but it’s also horribly incomplete and inconsistent, with major functional regressions and no truly compelling updates to its built-in apps.

We’ll get to that, of course. But first, I’d like to highlight what Microsoft got right with Windows 11, and why you might want to consider upgrading, even at this early stage in its lifecycle.

First and most obviously, Microsoft has given Windows 11 a much-needed user experience overhaul that extends from the visual to the aural, creating a fresh and calm vibe that permeates the product. From the initial setup—which is virtually identical to previous Windows versions but feels different thanks to updated visuals—to your first moments navigating the lock screen and being presented with the refreshed Windows 11 desktop, it’s obvious that things are new and different, at least on the surface.

The refreshed desktop cuts to the heart of the Windows 11 paradox. It is somehow both fresh and familiar, with all of the standard bits and pieces—the Taskbar, Start button, Start menu, Desktop, and Recycle Bin—all present and accounted for, but each also visually updated. There are rounded rectangles everywhere in this new Windows, from the corners of windows to the controls those windows contain, and the Taskbar and Start menu are newly centered, in perhaps their most dramatic UI changes since 1995.

And for the most part, it works. One of the key goals of the Windows 11 refresh was to simplify the UI, making it less busy and chaotic. You can see this everywhere, but most obviously in the new Start menu, which finally dispenses with the useless app tiles from Windows 8 and 10 and brings back the icons we all know, love, and prefer. The Start menu is also divided in half so that it can more easily be used to find recent documents from across your devices, a dream of Microsoft’s since literally Windows 95.

Those who can’t handle the centered Taskbar buttons and Start menu are given an out, in that they can return both to the left side of the Taskbar if needed. But I would advise even the most determined of power users to give the new UI a shot: it’s very similar to what we see on mobile devices, and that familiarity helps make the transition in Windows 11 a lot more seamless.

Aside from the obvious, there are some other, subtler changes to the desktop: the system tray area has been bifurcated into two sections, one for Quick Settings that is triggered by selecting any of the system icons, and one for Notifications, which is accessed via the Time/Date display.

Quick Settings combines the Quick Actions from Windows 10’s Action Center with brightness and volume sliders, and it is a great UI and a nice update. If you’re playing media in Microsoft Edge, another web browser, or a media app, you’ll also find Windows 11’s new media controls above Quick Settings.

But Notifications is less successful. For some reason, it combines the Notifications area from Windows 10’s Action Center with a non-interactive Calendar flyout that, inexplicably, is often collapsed by default and thus even less useful.

I can’t recall the last time I was able to say this, perhaps never, but the best improvements in Windows 11 are all related to basic productivity and multitasking improvements that really make a big difference in day-to-day use. And again and again, these features encompass the “details matter” mantra to which Windows 11 only sometimes rises.

Consider Snap Layouts. The Snap feature dates back to Aero Snap in Windows 7, and it allows users to “snap” windows into specific screen areas next to each other or in other patterns. The problem with Snap, of course, is that’s it’s not easily discoverable, and most users only become aware of it by mistake when they drag a window and see a visual hint (called Snap Assist) that it can be snapped. But with Snap Layouts, Microsoft now provides a preview pane that appears when you mouse over a window’s Maximize/Restore window button;  this preview pane indicates which Snap layouts are available, based on your screen size, pixel density, and aspect ratio. Nice! (Touch users can access this pane by pressing and holding on the Maximize/Restore button.)

Two other new features, Snap Groups and the new Docking/Undocking experience, are nearly magical, especially the latter, and each is about getting back to what you were doing earlier.

Snap Groups works in tandem with Snap Layouts to remember the Snap layouts you’ve created. For example, let’s say you’ve snapped three windows, with one window taking up 50 percent of the screen on the left and the other two taking up 25 percent each on the right, and you are then distracted by an email or other task that needs to be dealt with immediately. When you’re done with the distraction, you can mouse over the icon for any of the previously snapped windows and you will see a Snap group thumbnail next to the window’s normal thumbnail.

And when you select that, all three windows (or whatever) will return to their previous positions at the forefront so that you can get back to doing what you were doing.

The new Docking/Undocking experience is even more impressive. This feature is aimed at those who use a laptop or other PC docked to an external display and perhaps some combination of peripherals. In the past, you would undock the external display (or just unplug it from the PC), and all of the windows that were open on the external display would move to the primary (or, for a laptop, internal) display. But when you redocked, nothing happened: The windows all stayed where they were. In Windows 11, this changes for the better: Now, Windows remembers where those windows were sized and positioned, and when you redock, they are all returned to the right places on the external display. It’s awesome.

There’s also a simplified new tablet experience for those with 2-in-1 tablet PCs like Surface Pro 8 where it’s possible to remove a type cover, eliminating the keyboard and touchpad, and then use the device as a touch- or pen-based tablet. I like it a lot, since it takes configuring two separate interfaces—for Tablet Mode and Continuum—out of the mix and simply configures the PC ideally for both usage cases. Now, when you remove a type cover, the taskbar icons separate subtly to give you more room to hit one accurately with your fingers, and you can then navigate using new multi-finger touch gestures that work exactly like touchpad gestures and access an updated Touch Keyboard with new theming capabilities.

Speaking of the Touch Keyboard, Microsoft has added another neat way to interact with Windows via a new feature called Voice Typing. So for the first time, Windows can use your PC’s microphone to provide system-wide transcription capabilities, letting you create and edit documents with your voice without needing third-party software. (The easiest way to access Voice Typing is to type WINKEY + H.)

Like its predecessor, Windows 11 provides several icons on the default Taskbar that highlight features for beginners and can quickly be removed if you know what you’re doing. But there are some changes, too. Search remains, but it’s only an icon now, with no superfluous search field. Task view lets you view your virtual desktops—now called Desktops—as before, but Timeline has been removed. A new Chat icon provides a front-end to Microsoft Teams, replacing Meet Now’s front-end to Skype from Windows 10. And there’s a new Widgets icon.

Oh, Microsoft.

Widgets is, by far, the most terrible user interface in Windows 11, and I recommend that everyone remove it as quickly as possible. It’s a replacement for the News and interests feed in Windows 10, but it’s even less useful—you can’t see a weather forecast right on the Taskbar, as before—and it serves solely as a front-end to the terrible “news” content served up by MSN and the lackluster search results provided by Bing. Widgets is also one of the curious ways in which Microsoft tries to drive usage of its Edge web browser surreptitiously since it uses Edge to open all links regardless of which browser you configured as default. Sigh.

Windows has long had a painful relationship with themes, thanks in part to it keeping legacy themes interfaces while adopting Dark and Light modes that Windows 10 referred to, inconsistently, as “app modes.” But in Windows 11, Microsoft is finally calling a theme a theme and it has added a nice but limited set of default themes to the system that combines a Dark or Light mode with wallpaper(s), accent colors, and even sounds. On a related note, there are also a handful of new accessibility features, including more customizable High Contrast themes, the ability to scale text larger than before, and Captions themes for those who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Moving past the desktop, Microsoft has provided significant visual refreshes to just two core apps, Microsoft Store and Settings. Beyond that, we see just minor changes across apps like File Explorer, Photos, Clock, Snipping Tool, and Paint, but we’ll need to wait for other core apps—I’m looking at you, Mail and Calendar—to receive major functional and visual updates, assuming that it ever happens. It’s kind of a shame because most of the in-box apps are, if anything, long in the tooth at this point and not the aspirational apps they should be.

As for Store and Settings, they both receive similar updates, with new left-mounted navigation that persists across the applications, no matter what you’re looking at. This works, in the sense that neither app is actually all that new—both instead provide identical functionality when compared to their predecessors—but each still manages to feel fresh and different. The Store will eventually offer Android apps via Amazon AppStore for Android integration, but that feature won’t arrive until 2022.

And on that note, maybe it’s time to address the central problem with Windows 11: Microsoft, inexplicably and without precedent, has only tested this major Windows release publicly for three short months, despite all the changes. And as a result, the product we’re getting on October 5 is incomplete and lacks many of the new features that Microsoft promised in late June. As bad, literally no user feedback made its way into the product in time for this week’s launch, as the testing period was just too short. Instead, feedback will be incorporated into future updates to Windows 11, post-launch.

That this is a dubious strategy is obvious to anyone familiar with the past six years: with Windows 10, Microsoft adopted an aggressive “Windows as a Service” updating policy that backfired on its users again and again thanks to quality and reliability issues. So it’s naturally using this same system to ensure that Windows 11 can be updated over time too. We won’t need to wait for Windows 11.1, or Windows 12, or whatever, for improvements.

We can credit Netscape, of all companies, for this problem: 25 years ago, the now-defunct Internet pioneer pushed a “release first, fix later” software creation mentality that now consumes the entire industry. And here in 2021, this mentality has even infected the development of major personal computing platforms like iOS and Windows, each of which is in a perpetual state of fixing bugs and adding previously promised but delayed new features.

Along with all those missing features, most of the long-time visual inconsistencies from Windows 10 remain, and Windows 11 introduces some new inconsistencies of its own, especially in its scattershot approach to context menus. Hopefully, those will be fixed over time by what we all know will be a never-ending series of monthly updates.

More problematically, Windows 11 also introduces a stunning array of functional regressions that, admittedly, will mostly impact power users who are comfortable with some of the more byzantine keyboard and mouse shortcuts that Windows has provided for years. The most notable example, of course, is what happens when you right-click the taskbar: in Windows 10, you get a cascading menu with dozens of choices, including the easiest way to launch Task Manager. But with Windows 11, there’s only one choice, and it’s for taskbar settings.

Microsoft says these changes were made in the name of simplification, and while I support them making the hard decisions and doing the right thing for most Windows users, some of the cuts are dubious.

For example, you can’t remove preset Taskbar items like Search, Task View, Widgets, or Chat by right-clicking them; instead, you have to take the extra step of opening taskbar settings first. And don’t get me started on the new Default apps interface, which was designed specifically to prevent most users from not accidentally launching Microsoft’s Edge web browser even when they prefer Chrome or Firefox.

We’ve also lost some taskbar and Start customization capabilities. The taskbar is stuck on the bottom of the screen and can’t be moved to other edges, as before. All you can do is change the centering of the Start menu and taskbar icons to be left-aligned. Woop.

And there are user experience issues everywhere.

Take the new Start menu for, um, starters. It has a fresh new face, and a new layout, but the Pinned section, which houses pinned app shortcuts, isn’t particularly customizable: it’s stocked with app stubs that trigger installs the first time they’re clicked, and if you remove shortcuts, the section doesn’t resize to give more room to the rest of the menu. It just leaves some blank, useless space right in the middle of the Start menu instead.

And that Recommended section houses both recent documents and recently installed app shortcuts by default for some reason; those are two different things.

There are other problems. Windows 11 Home requires a Wi-Fi connection and you must have a Microsoft account to even sign in to the system and start using it. (Yes, there are always workarounds, but these things are too complex for the home users who will be most impacted by this change.) I agree that a Microsoft account is the more secure way to sign in to Windows, but that assumes that it’s protected by two-step authentication, another thing most home users will be unaware of. In short, customers should be able to sign in to Windows however they prefer, and there is no valid reason for this requirement to be made for one Windows 11 product edition only.

Windows 11 is available only in 64-bit versions on Intel/AMD and ARM architectures, but the big news here is that the ARM version of Windows 11 is finally functionally the same as Windows 11 on other architectures. Well, with one exception: you still can’t install Intel/AMD drivers on ARM-based PCs, which means that you won’t get many of the special features that hardware makers provide with their printers, scanners, and other devices.

So. Should you upgrade to Windows 11 immediately?

That’s kind of a gut-check question. Average users—who won’t be reading this review anyway—are advised to wait until mid-2022, at which point I expect Microsoft to add all the missing features, fix the most egregious regressions, and add more fit and finish to the product. But those of a more technical bent can dive in safely at any time. I’m happy with Windows 11 despite the issues, and while it’s required a bit of workflow adjustment on my part, I feel that it’s been worth it.

Overall, I wish that Microsoft had tested Windows 11 publicly for as long as a year before releasing it, as it could have then incorporated some much-needed customer feedback. That will happen, eventually—we’re already testing post-release versions of Windows 11 in the Insider Program—but it should have happened much earlier. For now, Windows 11 is a step in the right direction, but it’s unpolished and unfinished in its current state.

At-a-glance

Pros

  • Clean and modern new user interface
  • Excellent new multitasking and productivity features like Snap Layouts and Snap Groups
  • Seamless docking/undocking experience works like magic
  • Voice Typing is an overdue but excellent addition to Windows

Cons

  • Feels like it was rushed to market
  • Too many functional regressions compared to Windows 10
  • The Widgets news feed is of low quality and pushes Microsoft apps and services
  • Too few in-box apps were updated in a meaningful way
  • Visual inconsistencies abound
  • The new Default Apps interface is anti-competitive
  • Windows 10 Home requires a Wi-Fi connection and an MSA to set up
  • You can’t easily remove default icons on the Taskbar

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Comments (83)

83 responses to “Windows 11 Review: Fresh, Familiar, Incomplete”

  1. blue77star

    Do not upgrade to Windows 11. There is no good reason for it. I would wait out about 2 years before doing so. In my book Windows 11 offers nothing Windows 10. If I was to put it in one sentence I'd day, Windows 11 is unnecessary.


    • rob_segal

      Simplifying and updating the UI and UX of a platform or application is necessary. Other platform makers do the same thing. This is why I like Windows 11 and would recommend it to people who are looking for this. A blanket recommendation or not recommendation is not the right approach for Windows 11. It's really up to the individual and what the individual is looking for. Windows 11 is much closer to what I would like Windows to be than Windows 10, so I'm glad to jump in. Job's not finished, but it's a really good step in the right direction.

      • sharps

        Upgraded based on Paul's article (I haven't used Windows 11 before today). So far I like it a lot. As Paul mentioned requires some changes in workflow. Nothing earth shattering so far. Design wise it looks much nicer. Being able to choose the theme is great.

    • JerryH

      Well... Since MS will not be backporting the new Windows 11 thread scheduler to Windows 10, there is an argument to be made that the performance improvements for interactive tasks may be worth it for some users (certainly not all users).

    • pfalkingham

      Sadly, it offers WSLg, which Windows 10 doesn't, even though it was originally coming to Win 10.

  2. jim_vernon

    "So for the first time, Windows can use your PC’s microphone to provide system-wide transcription capabilities, letting you create and edit documents with your voice without needing third-party software."


    This exists in Windows 10. The Win+H shortcut works, too.

  3. wpcoe

    Regarding whether the calendar pop-up opens as collapsed or expanded seems to be based on whether it was collapsed or expanded the last time it was displayed. i.e. If you click on the date/time and the calendar pops up expanded but you click to collapse it, the next time you click on the date/time it will be collapsed.

  4. allen_maloy

    Isn't Widgets just Vista Gadgets rebranded?

  5. rob_segal

    I guess I'll add my thoughts about Windows 11. Over the years, Windows has gotten too complicated and cluttered. Features added on top of features with too much hesitancy to remove things. Some people will not like features being removed, but it's necessary. Every feature in Windows is used by someone, but that is not reason enough to keep it. Microsoft has not only started creating a more consistent UX, but a simpler one. I could argue that it's not simple enough and it's definitely not consistent enough. A goal I would like is every app should be touched and every app should be evaluated. Do we actually need this in Windows? Is there a simpler, better way to accomplish this task and can we have one way to accomplish one task? Windows Mobility Center should not exist in Windows anymore. WordPad is not necessary anymore. If Windows needs a text editor more powerful than NotePad, maybe it's time to get the Word PWA done and have that pre-installed.


    Windows 11 is a job that's not finished. I made this point a few times already. More work is necessary and more work is being done.

    • aretzios

      Well, having updated a number of computers today to Win11, all I have to say it was a lot of commotion for nothing much. I am not seeing anything much, for the time being. This may well have been another update on Win10. Part of the reason is that I have installed Stardock's Start11, so the initial experience has not changed. The changes so far are minimal.

    • hrlngrv

      | Windows 11 is a job that's not finished.


      Obviously.


      However, isn't this article more focused on how unfinished it should have been at its initial public release?

  6. chronocidal

    As someone who keeps a very workflow-tuned set of programs, files, and shortcuts arrayed on my start menu, this change to the menu format is probably the very last thing I would have ever asked for.


    If I wanted all my shortcuts in a big block, I would have dumped them all into a grid on the desktop. At least that way I could have more than 18 of them.


    I can understand wanting to simplify things that are overcomplicated, but removing functionality and personalization is not progress.

    • solomonrex

      It's notable in particular that removing 'drag and drop' functionality doesn't really simplify anything, since it was a hidden feature anyway!


      I do think they need to simplify, however, reskinning Windows 10, while leaving the Control Panel intact is counter-productive if anything. And then supporting 2 major OSs for 5 more years really doesn't fit the 'simplify' goal, either. Adding 'regular' apps to the app store doesn't make it more secure, even if in practice that will matter little.


      Things were simpler last year, and we all knew what Microsoft's goals were with Windows. Now what?

  7. pachi

    The lack of drag and drop on the taskbar is absolutely killing my workflow... who made this decision?

  8. shark47

    So, Panay’s first software release is essentially a dud. It looks like Microsoft is continuing the trend of every second version of Windows being bad. For XP, 7, and 10, they had Vista, 8, and now 11.

    • hrlngrv

      Don't forget ME between 98 and XP. OTOH, the NT branch was fine until Vista.

      • hrlngrv

        8.1 was a correction to the excesses of 8[.0]. Add a 3rd party Start menu replacement, and it was possible never to see the Start screen. At that point, the under-the-hood improvements over 7 became more obvious.


        For me, everything from 7 on has been ho hum. Good incremental improvements, nothing worth buying a new PC for the new Windows version. Between keyboard shortcuts assigned to .LNK files under the traditional Start menu directory and Search, I don't use the start menu or pinned icons much. And I'm way out of sync with MSFT aesthetics: I can't stand transparency, so I use modified high contrast themes. I do realize I'm not MSFT's target Windows user, and they won't lose any sleep when I cease using Windows.

  9. duncanator

    My 12 year old child has the only computer in the house new enough to be able to get the upgrade to Windows 11 but when I showed it to him, he simply asked "Why do I need it?" Sadly, I could not give him an answer so I guess we'll all be sticking with what was called the last version of Windows, Windows 10.

  10. matsan

    Why do I get flash-backs from Mac OS 8.x when I see Windows 11? Has the design cycle completed the full 360° turn? I'm too old for this sh*t.

  11. RobertJasiek

    Windows 11 is the broken promise that Windows 10 would be for its computers' life times. Windows 11 is the exclusion of countless computers with CPUs capable of running Windows 11 but not being on the whitelist.


    There have been reports of Windows 11 being 25% slower than Windows 10 for some games on dGPUs. Apparently, the cause is a badly programmed new security feature.


    I still do not know what to expect of Teams because there have not been reviews clarifying whether it runs as software or as system service(s), and how the functionality compares to other video conference solutions.


    I need some power user features of Windows and cannot know whether I would find them in Windows 11. It is not so important what the GUI is but whether those features are available at all. Provided CTRL C, V, X and ALT-TAB still work.

  12. blue77star

    People and reviewers are reporting that there performance penalty up to 28% with Windows 11 when VBS and other features are turned on. Ouch.

  13. Jeremy Turnley

    So, normally I would recommend using the new UI and getting used to it when a new OS rolls around, but MS changed a lot of things thing time that people actually use so it's going to get annoying in a hurry if you do. The new start menu is a good example - they went from the list view of Win10, with big, easy to index shortcuts in their own dedicated area, to a giant box with tiny icons that don't seem to sort themselves in any particular order with a large box full of shortcuts to the files you recently had open. I'm a giant opponent of anything that shows everything I have been doing to anyone who walks behind me while I am working - heck, it's not even legal to see some of the things I have had open when I am in my office - some filenames that are sent to me alone are enough to have the HIPAA trolls on my butt (how some people manage to stay employed in health care IT mystifies me). The idea of the OS automatically deciding that I need a shortcut to everything I have opened in the last week that pops up automatically every time I need to open a completely unrelated app is asinine.


    And don't even get me started with them removing the one way to get to task manager via the mouse only. Hope you never have to kill an app because it grabbed exclusive control of your keyboard! Time to do the old reset-and-lose-everything-you-were-working-on instead!


    Luckily, Stardock has me covered and Start11 is super cheap, but I really hate having to use a 3rd party start menu because someone at MS decided that they know better.

  14. jwadle

    I still can believe that MS is going to stick to its current prohibition of Windows 11 on any CPUs older that (Intel) gen 8. There are many millions of PCs with older CPUs in use businesses around the world. Sticking to gen 8+ only will result in a continuing large base of Windows 10 users deprived of the worthwhile new features in Win 11.

  15. polloloco51

    Windows 11 feels like:

    When someone takes a perfectly good Toyota Corolla, adds a cold air intake, lowers it to the ground, replaces all the seats with bucket seats, and sticks on low profile tires.


    Unnecessary changes, for the worse!

  16. fbman

    Looks interesting, but I will wait.. maybe sometime during 2023 I will upgrade. I will watch the development with interest.


    honestly there is nothing new in windows 11 that screams I need this like yesterday. My days of upgrading on day 1 are over. Last time I did that was when windows XP launched.


    Even windows 10 feature updates I wait at least 6 months before applying.

  17. hrlngrv

    There are new reports of a nasty if not critical memory leak bug in File Explorer. How odd that 3 months + 1 week of amateur time in the Insider Program wasn't enough to surface this bug before release.


    When bugs like this occur, does the Windows team take any of the top developers off adding new features to fix core features, or does the Windows team rely on the poor SOBs condemned to code maintenance purgatory to fix things like this?

  18. peterc

    I’m running Win 11 on a 15 inch surface laptop 4 and it’s great. My desktop is Win 10, and whilst it’s UI is more familiar to me, side by side performance comparisons are clearly stacked on the Win 11 side…. It’s a better faster OS.


    im switching between both PC’s and their UI and I can’t say it’s that different or difficult to use both simultaneously..


    Gets the thumbs up from me and hopefully Win 11 will herald the start of some new computing device formats. It doesn’t take too much “intelligence” to see how a dual screen device could utilise the win 11 ui interface and start menu, just needs the right chips to unlock the hardware/software performance possibilities and battery life. Intel and Qualcomm have really failed in this area… looks like AMD are having a bash with MS on this issue and it will be interesting to see what comes out of that. I’m looking forward to it.


    it will be interesting to see how surface duo 2 owners benefit from any tighter win 11 integrations.

  19. Philip Worthington

    Overall I would say I like the visual refresh, but it feels like usability has been sacrificed. The settings menu is better, and the store certainly looks more inviting.


    However, I hate the new notification / calendar bar, and the way the systray icons now all link to the same quick settings panel. The Start menu also just feels like a waste of space.


    I might have persevered, but I tried it on an 18 month old XPS 13 and it ran noticeably slower. It was like going from an SSD to a HDD, so I obviously removed it.

  20. javial

    Windows 11 login on to a Windows Server 2019 AD domain takes about 20 seconds.

  21. pfalkingham

    "...brings back the icons we all know, love, and prefer."


    That 'all' is absolutely not necessary, or correct. The move to icons from tiles is not a happy one for a lot of people.

    • hrlngrv

      I can understand the frustration of people who'll miss live tiles even though the most I used them was for the Weather, Alarm Clock and Calendar apps (all things which Rainlendar or Rainmeter could handle just as well).


      However, once MSFT killed off Windows phones, it should have been obvious live tiles' days were numbered.

  22. rob_segal

    I could nitpick Windows 11. Calendar flyout is not as useful as Windows 11. Right-click menus and tooltips are still inconsistent. Legacy windows and apps still don't support dark mode. But I can also nitpick macOS. Window management is frustrating. Some shortcut key combinations are not as intuitive (ex. screenshot). Finder is not as easy to use as File Explorer (other than tabs).


    I hope Windows 11 continues to evolve down the road it began taking. By the end of next year, it could be really good.

  23. red.radar

    Sadly I don’t think we have a choice. You buy a newer BigLittle x86 chipset, to get drivers Microsoft will force us to use windows 11.


    exactly what they did with skylake during the sunset of Windows 7.


    Enterprises will balk but comply because they have too much software interia around windows to threaten alternatives.



  24. innitrichie

    I'd upgrade to Windows 11 if I could on my current hardware. For now I'll stick with Windows 10 and eventually probably buy a MacBook Pro.


    If Microsoft is now going down the obsolete my hardware every few years when a major new OS is released, I might as well give my money to Apple. At least I get 6-7 years of guaranteed updates, and hardware I can still sell to an Apple enthusiast for a decent sum at the end of it.

  25. joloriquelme

    Microsoft lost an excellent oportunity to demostrate that Windows could be at macOS level, specially on consistency.


    I really can't see a reason why I should upgrade, at least on day one.


    I will wait a few months. All my Windows 10 computers are working perfectly fine and really fast now.

    • hrlngrv

      Given who should use Microsoft Management Console, I can't see MSFT expending any effort of making it more theme compliant. OTOH, it's well past time for a simpler applet for changing drive letter assignments, which I figure is what most Windows users use Disk Management to do.


      As for Control Panel, the only explanations for why it continues to exist are: 1) since Control Panel actually runs in EXPLORER.EXE windows, there may be no clean way to purge Control Panel from EXPLORER.EXE, IOW, too difficult a computer science problem; 2) Settings is nowhere near as modular as Control Panel, so it's just not possible to iterate through C:\Windows, locating .CPL files or equivalents, checking whether links to them are already included in Settings, and if not adding links to .CPL applets; 3) it'd take developer resources MSFT simply isn't willing to expend for the extremely simple reason that leaving Control Panel a dog's lunch won't materially reduce Windows usage.


      If consistency matters a lot, DON'T UPGRADE. Force MSFT to make Windows 11 more consistent. Otherwise, learn to live with the obvious truth that MSFT is more than willing to endure user complaints about inconsistency as long as users keep paying for new Windows licenses.

    • Greg Green

      They just don’t seem to care about Windows anymore, from top management all through to the bottom.

  26. John Dunagan

    The Taskbar-only-on-the-bottom thing is a bug, not a feature. Most people's monitors are wider than they are tall; most people's mobile devices are taller than they are wide. Space on the Taskbar along the bottom is wasted along the longer side, and since it's longer, there's more of it wasted than there would be if the Taskbar is to one side.


    Frustrating that Microsoft not only refuses to give us the option to move it, but also that whoever there is responsible for that restriction, doesn't justify him/herself.

  27. davidblouin

    Have if for about a week, really like it, especially since they activated the widgets a few days ago. Don't really care that they remove the task manager from the taskbar menu cause i can pin any application i need on the taskbar since well almost forever.

  28. krusador

    FYI - you can do voice-typing in W10 with Winkey+H now. That's not new.

  29. matt11to5

    I have not installed yet, but overall I'm excited for Windows 11. I really like the visual changes and if the performance levels are equal to Windows 10, I'm sure it will be good-enough for me and I'll upgrade as soon as Windows Update says it's safe.


    I feel some of the complaints, though. I work in IT support and I'm sure it's going to be a nightmare -- especially the default apps and not being able to right click on task bar to go to task manager. I'll host some training sessions for my end-users, but I'm sure they'll still be confused.

    • VancouverNinja

      Yup. Windows 11 is simply a better version of Windows 10. Choosing not to upgrade to it is fine, but no one should try to make the reason that is worse than Windows 10 - it's illogical. It finally gives us a very good mobile (tablet) device OS.

      • egab

        What's illogical about it ?

        • VancouverNinja

          There is nothing in Windows 11 that makes it a "worse OS" as opposed to a more improved version of the OS.

          • hrlngrv

            Other that Windows 11's taskbar, which does, in fact, have fewer features than Windows 10's, and so for those who've been using some former features from Windows 2K through Windows 10, the Windows 11 taskbar is, in fact, objectively worse. No doubt you'll perform some hand-waving ritual to ward off this criticism.

            • VancouverNinja

              Saying that the changes to one feature makes the overall OS objectively worse is interesting at best. For me I miss nothing when it comes to the task bar and I completely prefer its redesign to Windows 10; not to mention the improvements to it. I actually always found the left justification of it to be weird and never understood the logic of its positioning. I would love to have seen, or see, any studies that showed left justifying it was superior to the center for users.

              • jimchamplin

                With a pointing device such as a mouse, trackpad, trackball, et cetera, it's objectively easier to simply slam the arrow into the bottom corner and click. Since Windows XP, Start's hitbox has extended to the right and bottom edges of the screen so that one doesn't have to accurately target the actual button.


                With it in a variable position it's not as easy to hit. If touch is possible, either way is equal, but with a traditional arrow-based UI, it's easier when it sits still :)

              • boots

                So just because you don't miss any of the removed features, then: "There is nothing in Windows 11 that makes it a "worse OS" as opposed to a more improved version of the OS."

              • hrlngrv

                Outstanding example of a red herring as I mentioned nothing about Start button position.

          • egab

            Maybe it's not worse, but why is is better ? What's improved ? Not trying to troll. People are talking about the visual design a lot, and it matters but it's not the most important thing and can subjectively be "worse" to some people.


            Base code is pretty much the same as Windows 10. It's a free update, I'm a very long time Windows user, my PC is capable running it with CPU/TPM - yet I only see things I'll lose more than gain if I switch.


            Windows 10 was not ready in 2015, it took few years to mature. Nobody asked for Windows 11, they've had all the time in the world to release a complete OS, yet they rushed it in 3 months ? For what reason ? I just don't get it.


            I know it's a small thing, but that they removed the right click menu from the task bar is killing it for me. I sure hope 3rd party will fix that, or a later revision of the OS.


            Windows 10, for me at least and true for today, is "better".

          • Greg Green

            You’re willfully blind. There’s been numerous examples of ‘worse’ given in the article and comments. Worse does exist for others.

      • Greg Green

        If it interrupts work flow to an alternative that takes more clicks or time it’s not an improvement.

      • hrlngrv

        Illogical only if one maintained that the Windows 11 taskbar was superior to the Windows 10 taskbar, in terms of drag-and-drop, screen side placement, multiple icons for multiple running instances of the same program, multiple rows of icons, and toolbars.


        There may be things to like about Windows 11, but its taskbar isn't one of them.

        • rob_segal

          This depends on one's perspective. I actually dislike the Windows 10 taskbar because I think it's too busy. Microsoft kept adding items to the taskbar when I thought they should have been taking things away from it. This is one area where I like macOS much more than Windows. A simple dock of icons on the bottom of the screen that is different than menus and system icons that is at the top of the screen. Windows 11 doesn't separate the two as I prefer, but at least it's simpler.

          • boots

            What does the Window 10 Taskbar have on it that can't be removed that the Windows 11 Taskbar doesn't have?

            • hrlngrv

              I believe he means the complexity of the Windows 10 taskbar's context menu. Possibly also the complexity of displaying text to the right of icons for running programs, forcing users to read something in the taskbar other than the date and time, or, GAWD FORBID, having separate icons for multiple running instances of the same program.


              Somewhat more seriously, the inability to move the taskbar to other sides of the screen is nothing other than simplifying for simplifying's sake. This is NOT an improvement even for users who want simplicity. Putting this differently, if Chrome OS supports moving its Shelf to any screen edge, why can't Windows 11? Not exactly plausible for anyone to complain it's too complicated for users. OTOH, it may have offended some Windows developer's aesthetic sense, so screw users.

    • arnstarr

      Right click on the Start button to get to Task Manager.

  30. krusador

    I don't understand the point of W11? This isn't a new OS - more like an incremental upgrade to W10. I thought Microsoft had announced when W10 was released that it was the last version of Windows, as they would just continually update it.

  31. blue77star

    Pros.

    1. Retains same performance as Windows 10
    2. Better OOBE
    3. Support for Alder Lake


    Cons.

    1. Terrible in multitasking
    2. Rather useless Start Menu
    3. Taskbar is broken
    4. Visual inconsistencies
    5. The Widgets...who is this for?
    6. Home requires Wi-Fi connection and an MSA to set up
    7. Who is this OS for?







    • waethorn

      The OOBE is no different than Windows 10. Needless to say, it's still awful.

      • JerryH

        Actually it is a bit different. I don't just mean the color changes and addition of pretty pictures. For example, for an enterprise that uses Autopilot, instead of "Welcome to <company name>" (actually tenant name, but usually that is company name) in a big font at the top, it now says "Let's set things up for your work or school" and then has a very small version of your company logo (IF your tenant admin provided one). This makes it less straightforward for users, especially since, with Windows 10 if you got that exact phrase it meant that Autopilot didn't work and you should abort and start over.

      • blue77star

        At least you get prompt to enter Computer Name.

  32. hikingradiomatty

    Honestly I am a fan of Windows 11 (been running it since the early dev builds came out) while it has it's quarks overall it feels like Windows 10 stability with a fresh interface! It was about time Microsoft moved forward with Windows!

  33. hrlngrv

    Money, money, money . . . MONEY.


    Money, money, money . . . MONEY.


    Why did MSFT release Windows 11 so precipitously? See above.


    Re built-in apps, given all the UWP apps bundled with Windows 10, especially the much-loved Candy Crush Soda, not really fair to compare any other Windows version to it. Thinking back on Windows 7, which built-in apps were significantly different from those in Vista? Was that when Paint and WordPad got their Ribbons?

  34. roundaboutskid

    Why doesn't the Start button icon stay in the center of the screen? It's utterly mysterious. What is the benefit of having the Start Menu in the center if I have all these pinned apps moving the Start button to the far left?

  35. kshsystems

    Paul, I have heard that Microsoft changed the scheduler in Windows 11 to favor foreground tasks.

    Have you noticed any impact in your day to day?

    • bluvg

      There's also work in the scheduler related to hybrid CPUs, but that has received little attention, perhaps because Alder Lake hasn't launched yet.

  36. bluvg

    "finally dispenses with the useless app tiles from Windows 8 and 10 and brings back the icons we all know, love, and prefer."


    Not all. Some of us prefer Live Tiles, especially when deep linking worked (frequently another Microsoft fail, unfortunately). Not a huge deal, though.

  37. epguy40

    Brother brand printers are having some issues with Windows 11, being unable to print through a USB connection:


    www.ghacks.net/2021/10/12/brother-confirms-windows-11-printer-issues/


    www.neowin.net/news/on-windows-11-pcs-brother-printers-are-facing-many-issues-when-connected-via-usb/

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