This weekend I upgraded my PC to Windows 11. I was originally planning to wait a year for things to settle, but I got bored and just went for it anyway. Here are my thoughts and experience with the new Windows:
Upgrading was fairly easy, but I had to go grab the Installation Assistant since it wasn’t available yet in Windows Update for me.
Last summer in 2021, I made sure my PC met the new requirements by turning on Memory Integrity and Core Isolation in Windows 10, thanks to this helpful guide by Scott Hanselman.
I didn’t have to purchase any additional hardware, as my CPU/motherboard is fairly recent (2017). I heard the requirements have softened since then, but I’m not sure about the specifics.
Anyway, the Assistant downloaded and installed Windows 11 without a hitch, and I was up and running after reboot in less than 15 minutes. Great!
This PC is only used for gaming, and lately since switching to XBox, just Eve Online, Stellaris, and several third-party tools for Eve Online.
These games and tools worked without a hitch, so Windows 11 is fine in my book.
Things I don’t like #
Design inconsistencies are everywhere in Microsoft products, and are especially apparent each time they change the design of Windows. You don’t have to go far to find mismatched elements, so I won’t elaborate too far on this to avoid writing the next Ulysses.
Removing the Task Manager from the right-click menu on the taskbar was immediately obvious for me even though I’ve been familiar with the shortcut (Ctrl+Shift+Esc) since they changed it in Windows 7. However, just pinning the Task Manager to the taskbar is an acceptable fix.
The news widget button was another annoyance, but that was easily removed in the taskbar settings.
Things I like #
I do like the new design, sounds, and animations. They made an effort to change how a lot of the default apps look, and I’m digging the rounded corners, blue underlines for text fields, and transparent menus.
You can finally disable the Show Desktop button on the far right of the taskbar, which was all but invisible in Windows 10 and easy to accidentally trigger and mess up your window layout.
Having the taskbar icons in the center didn’t take long to get used to as I daily drive a Mac, and I think this was a great decision for multi-monitor setups. Less mouse movement across displays to reach the taskbar buttons.
The new window management options that are similar to Power Toys’s layouts is a great addition, although I have yet to use this feature in any real way because I prefer the custom layouts I already set up in Power Toys.
They’re also not available to any application that doesn’t use the native Windows titlebar, like Discord and Telegram.
Supposedly Windows 11 will remember window positions when disconnecting monitors, like macOS, though I have yet to thoroughly test this out.
Windows 11 is fine. It works, it’s stable, and it’s not going to end the world. I’ve used Windows ME, Vista, and 8, and it’s nowhere near as bad as those (although 8 was not that bad in my opinion). It’s not a great Windows release, but it’s not bad, either.
I’d love to see Microsoft shed 3 decades of cruft and start removing backwards compatibility in favor of modernization; I think until they do that we’re going to be stuck with design inconsistencies.