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Windows 11 Appears on my Laptop

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Introduction

Microsoft Windows 11 released on October 5, 2021 approximately six years after the release of Windows 10. At the time of Windows 10’s release, Microsoft said Windows 10 would be the last release of Windows with all improvements rolling into incremental Windows Updates released twice a year. I guess the marketing honchos at Microsoft got tired of this strategy, decided to put fresh lipstick on the pig, and roll out Windows 11. Windows 11 didn’t roll out to everyone at once, and the update only became available to my laptop the other day (Oct. 27, 2021). I let it download and install and this blog post are some of my early impressions and what this new release brings.

Installation

Most people don’t install new versions of Windows, rather they get the latest version when they purchase a new computer. This is because usually a new version costs money and installing a new operating system can be problematic and difficult. If you are running Windows 10, then upgrading to Windows 11 isn’t any more difficult or time consuming than installing one of their half yearly updates and like the updates is free. The installation didn’t take any longer than an update and didn’t ask any additional questions, besides the usual agreeing to the EULA. Basically it just felt like any other Windows 10 update, and didn’t even feel like a particularly big one.

There is some controversy that Windows 11 requires newer hardware than Windows 10, but in my opinion Windows 10 probably didn’t run particularly well on this old hardware anyway and I would recommend switching any hardware that doesn’t support Windows 11 to running Linux. Linux runs great on older hardware and lets you get a lot more life out of your computing equipment rather than filling up the landfills. The main point that is annoying people is a requirement for the TPM (Trusted Platform Module) which isn’t particularly popular and tends to be the limiting factor. There are workarounds to this, but again, I would switch to Linux if this is an issue.

The Same but Different

My question about Windows 11 was: what is different? The signon screen is the same with the same nice picture and text. When I logged in, my desktop background was the same and all the icons on the desktop were preserved. From a distance, to me it looks pretty much like Windows 10. The first thing I noticed was that the icons on the taskbar are centered rather than on the left. There were some new things on the taskbar to poke at and as usual, Microsoft added back their programs that I had previously removed like the Edge browser. The other differences are more subtle and led to a bit of head scratching as I performed my usual work.

The Start menu has been split into three: the start menu, search and widgets. Widgets contain the same useless things that used to clutter the start menu, it’s nice they are separated out to be ignored, it would be nicer if there was an option to delete them entirely. Search is the useful option that I use to find and launch programs that aren’t pinned to the taskbar or on my desktop. The Start Menu has the same functionality as Windows 10 without search, but has more promotion built in, it has programs that you don’t have installed, like Adobe Lightroom, that if clicked start installing. I think Search is the good way to start programs, and I’ll likely ignore Start and Widgets entirely.

The Start Menu

One change that was a bit of a head scratcher is that the right click menus are different. For instance cut, copy, paste, etc. are icons, with no text, along the top of the menu and then other items seem rearranged. I’ll get used to this, but it did slow me down and reduce my productivity for a day or two.

Note the small icons at the top of the menu for copy/paste type operations.

The fonts and color scheme are a bit different than Windows 10, but I suspect this could have been achieved by simple customization. Anyway, I actually like the color scheme and font a bit better than Windows 10, so I’ll count that as an improvement.

There is a new desktop manager, so you can have multiple desktops and switch between them. This is a clone of a MacOS feature that I have never used and I suspect I’ll never use the Windows 11 feature either. This might be more useful for people that work, who can keep a work versus personal desktop or kids that have a personal versus parent-facing desktop.

Other Changes

Supposedly, Windows 11 handles the transition between laptop and external monitor better. I haven’t tried this, but it can’t be any worse than Windows 10.

The touchscreen support is advertised as better, but my laptop doesn’t have this, so I don’t know.

There are more gaming features ported from the XBox. I found the previous support pretty good, but I think this is good for gaming overall that Microsoft is committed to Windows gaming and not just selling XBox consoles. After all, the truly great gaming rigs are all PC based with top of the line graphics cards that typically cost several times the cost of an XBox.

Summary

Windows 11 really feels like the second half of 2021 Windows 10 update. I know this is a separate different update, and why Microsoft created both of these, I have no idea. I imagine it’s to do with corporate licensing and support agreements. That aside, this seems like a good update to Windows 10, there are changes in workflow, but for the most part things are familiar. I don’t think things have been moved around so much for the sake of making things different and hence hard to find. I like that the installation is just a simple Windows Update and the color scheme is ok. It would be nice if Microsoft didn’t spend so much time trying to force Edge and Teams down our throats, but that’s going to be a problem with large corporations and not having these sorts of things remains one of the things I like best about Linux. My laptop seems to run about the same as Windows 10, I haven’t seen any performance degradation that some people have reported and so far writing this article in a coffee shop, battery usage seems about the same.

If you are offered this update, I would recommend taking it. If for no other reason, than this is where the main security patches and bug fixes will be going first. Windows 10 will be supported for many more years, but I like to stay with the newest if my hardware supports it and I don’t see any huge red flags like happened with Windows Vista or Windows 8.

Written by smist08

October 29, 2021 at 11:27 am

Posted in Business

Tagged with , ,

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