Tomorrow, Microsoft is officially launching Windows 11, the next installment of their operating system which underpins the majority of PCs in use today. Windows 10 has an install base of over 1 billion devices, and Windows 11 comes into existence in a much different place than its predecessor. After the much-maligned Windows 8 there was a sense of urgency and necessity which ushered Windows 10 into the world. Windows 11, on the other hand, comes into a market where most people are happy with Windows 10. So it raises the question: Why now?

When Windows 10 launched, it was said to be the final version of Windows, and future updates would be additive to Windows 10, rather than a new version number. But that was six years ago, and times have changed, as has the management and ownership of the Windows development team at Microsoft. For better or worse, the company has deemed that now is a good time to do a clean break again, with all of the animosity and angst that will bring to a good portion of their customers, especially businesses who may still be in the process of migrating to Windows 10.

The question is why now? What is new? Why is Microsoft choosing this moment to switch from the very successful Windows 10 and implement another upgrade cycle? Some of these questions can be answered, but others will take time.

Refreshed User Interface

The immediate change that everyone will notice is that Microsoft has completely revamped the user interface for Windows 11. They have apparently gotten tired of their obsession with flat, stark interfaces and moved to a much more colorful and expressive theme.

There are also major changes to the Start Menu and the taskbar. The Start Menu has ditched the live tile idea. Although a good idea on the now defunct Windows Phone platform, live tiles never really worked well on the desktop and could make it more difficult to find the application you were looking for since the icon would change. Instead, the Start Menu goes back to basic app icons, but now with the Start Menu, by default, centered in the middle of the display.

Live tiles have been replaced with Widgets and can be accessed via a Widget icon on the taskbar. Currently the selection of Widgets is only Microsoft ones, and it will be interesting to see if this expands over time.

Tablet Mode is now gone as well, so if you liked to use Windows 10 in its more touch-friendly mode, you will likely be disappointed.

The taskbar also moves from a left-justified look to being centered, and when more applications are opened, the icons already on the task bar will shift to the left to keep things centered. Apps can also no longer customize areas of the taskbar.

The taskbar can also no longer be moved from the bottom of the display if you were someone who liked to slide it to one of the other sides of the screen, which will likely disappoint a lot of people. When your user base is over 1 billion, if even only 1% of users used a feature, that’s still 10 million people that used that feature.

Overall, the new user interface is clean, colorful, and breathes some new life into what had become a bit stale in Windows 10. Functionally, it is not drastically different than Windows 10, although moving the Start Menu from the bottom left corner where it has been since Windows was first Windows is a bold change. The loss of Live Tiles seems like a downgrade in functionality, but it does make the interface more consistent and easier to access the applications you are looking for, with widgets hoping to take up the slack. But, there is a surprising amount of customization and features that are being dropped.

Application Support
POST A COMMENT

96 Comments

View All Comments

  • flyingpants265 - Monday, October 4, 2021 - link

    Customizability and features being dropped? You don't say? Ever since mobile came around, any semblance of real computing went out the window and it's like nobody even noticed.
    Developers intentionally restrict, hide or block features to make you use the application in the way they want you to use it (also to save precious lines of code on creating a functional settings menu). If you compare the flexibility, usability, configurability, and features of Windows apps to Android apps, it's like 1,000 to 1. Things are being intentionally dumbed down, and it's not for the good. If you're going to dumb something down, then at least include the advanced version for users who want to actually use their computer and don't want arbitrary restrictions.

    I can't imagine why anyone would be interested in Windows 11. Windows 10 is the most insane piece of software I've ever used. I have 134 processes running on cold boot, some of them protected, and virtualized apps I can't manipulate. Several "helper" services designed to run alongside Windows services and help them, the OS is held together with tape. Multiple settings applications. The Microsoft and Xbox stores are some of the worst apps ever, laggy, ugly, poor descriptions and poor configurability, which is strange because they could have just copied the gold standard which is Steam. Candy crush was installed by default. The spying features are quite comprehensive and built in all over the place.

    Meanwhile, the Start menu takes a very long time to open even on my new PC when it should be 50-100ms. The new task manager is absolute junk (there's a way to get the old one with winaero). It's clear to see where their priorities were, and where the resources were spent.

    I had a situation a while back where my calculator application wouldn't open. It just stopped working one day, probably a problem with Windows update or something - because somehow it's not just a simple binary anymore, it's a space calculator from the future. I had to reinstall Windows to get it to work.

    Windows Update restarts your computer automatically while you are not there. There is no setting to disable the restart, just to delay it. I can't even tell you how many times I've woken up in the morning to find all my documents and applications closed because of this. I had to download and install the Policy Editor on Home edition just to turn off automatic restarting.
    Reply
  • flyingpants265 - Monday, October 4, 2021 - link

    Forgot to mention, the various error reporters and virus scanners and updaters are regularly using 50 to 100% CPU on my laptop, no matter how much I try to stop them.

    If there were a viable alternative, I would use it. A viable alternative means being able to run ALL windows applications, inside a Windows Explorer interface. Let me know when it happens. Linux has been a catastrophic failure, capturing only 2% market share - it's so good, you can't even give it away for free. Macs are alright.
    Reply
  • GeoffreyA - Monday, October 4, 2021 - link

    I find ShutUp10 useful in curtailing 10's behaviour; and OpenShell to get the classic Start menu back. No classic Start, no Windows. Concerning Calculator, if you'd like the one from 7 back, there's a download, I think, on Winaero. Reply
  • flyingpants265 - Monday, October 4, 2021 - link

    Didn't need any of those three things in Windows 7. I honestly forget the difference between 7 and XP, but I remember not completely hating 7. Reply
  • GeoffreyA - Tuesday, October 5, 2021 - link

    XP and 7 were class. Reply
  • AbRASiON - Tuesday, October 5, 2021 - link

    My god!!!!!!!!!!!! The Windows 10 Calculator! I've had it, after years of this thing. I hit run, type calc, enter - why is it taking up to near 5 seconds to open this junk WHY?

    Thanks, I'm finally going to replace it.
    Reply
  • flyingpants265 - Tuesday, October 5, 2021 - link

    Good point about it taking 5 seconds to open. A lot of things in Windows 10 are like that. Replacing bits and pieces won't help if the underlying codebase for the shell, services and applications is just bad. Reply
  • GeoffreyA - Wednesday, October 6, 2021 - link

    It's a UWP application likely written in C# and .NET, and will be slower than the classic Win32 calculator. Reply
  • XJDHDR - Tuesday, October 12, 2021 - link

    The problem is your PC. Win10 calc opens instantly for me. Reply
  • Gigaplex - Monday, October 4, 2021 - link

    "Linux has been a catastrophic failure, capturing only 2% market share - it's so good, you can't even give it away for free."

    Linux has around 85% of the mobile (ie phones) market share.
    Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now