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.

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  • alpha754293 - Monday, October 11, 2021 - link

    XP WAS good. But I just tried to virtualise XP with a quad-core processor, and XP could recognise multiple cores in multi-socketed systems, but if I set my XP VM with 4 cores from my Core i7-8559U, XP doesn't know what to do with it (though I wished that it did).

    XP WAS fast, but with its age, also shows its limitations as well.
  • GeoffreyA - Monday, October 11, 2021 - link

    XP has aged considerably but it'll go down in history as a classic. Possibly the best Windows ever made.
  • Oxford Guy - Monday, October 4, 2021 - link

    ‘t looks amazing! Finally good tastes in a Windows UI.’

    A superficial coat of paint doesn’t justify a new OS, especially one that bans high-performance highly-relevant hardware.
  • Oxford Guy - Monday, October 4, 2021 - link

    ‘So it raises the question: Why now?’

    MS wants to see if it can copy Apple’s extreme planned obsolescence routine, one-upping the company by making it more egregious.

    High-performance hardware is being banned so MS and hardware vendors can shake people down.

    Windows 11 does not offer enough value to be a product for consumers. It’s a product by and for MS, with the company betting that passivity will ge enough — which, of course, it will.

    Both companies have insanely high valuations precisely because consumers are so passive. They’ll trade value for laziness over and over again.
  • GeoffreyA - Monday, October 4, 2021 - link

    I had been thinking about giving 11 a try, but of late am just not interested any more. Windows 10 works all right, so why create more headache? And 11 seems ambitious of following in the illustrious footsteps of Vista and 8.
  • Silver5urfer - Monday, October 4, 2021 - link

    Simple - MONEY.

    Intel has new BS biglittle copycat on x86 to combat the AMD and Apple processors and they have a huge say in the x86 world simply because of how their Server Marketshare is, 90%+ And now note how Win11 SAC is no more, it's AC, basically Win10 is Semi Annual Channel releases and Win11 abandoned it for Annual releases. A big relax for the MS, yeah users are beta testers for a long time but this helps them and that secures their new Win11 licensing systems.

    Now there might be a question why the new systems and all, x86 products that Intel sells are more in Laptop BGA trash ware not DIY, and Servers are top ofc. With these new thin and light devices selling in volumes, remember how Chrome OS and Chromebooks had a huge boost ? People are getting dumber and dumber so they are fine with yearly trash refreshes of Smartphones for $1000 and same for laptops, shiny new toy.

    And finally Windows team at M$ was abandoned long back in 2018 itself, the guy who was at MS responsible for the division was laid off and then Office / Cloud teams took over it, they started adding without any direction, which became the abomination called Win10 a mish mash of garbage new UI and solid Win32 both shoved together. M$ wants to get rid of all that baggage, so they made Panos Panay the dumb idiot who barely even knows what is an OS as head because Surface garbage to combat Apple tablets and other touch screen ecosystem. Remember this is highest volume of x86 shipments.

    Ultimately because of that new UI was made, watch the video of the fools who worked on it, basically when MS orphaned Windows team internally it was fractured heavily with all that Win10X Windows S and other garbage so the reason why it looks so garbage and anti desktop because the people who worked on the management and directing this dumpster which kills all Taskbar behavior and so many Win32 features removed are simply and they all are addicted to Apple mediocrity and poor dumb UX, that bled to Win11 UX. But Nadella focus is to make money, so they had the Xbox Gamepass and others, which is why the Store had a revamp and massive focus to make it centralized Win32/UWP repo, Windows have decentralized system of software distribution which makes it superior to Linux in my eyes, no BS dependencies to download or anything, simply can be found on internet due to Win32 flexibility.

    Final piece of puzzle TPM, why ? Again money, Intel and AMD and other OEMs can mint money due to the offloaded cost to Consumer citing new DRAM DDR5, Big little marketing (Intel) and others and get Win11 licensing, on top their entire Office suite is as a Service, basically everything is as a service. They even announced the DaaS. Now the TPM, with Win10 extensive propaganda level push GWX, forced updates on everyone and constant spying and nagware MS got all the data they need for NSA and Patriot Act in US and world wide data mining. Who controls the data controls the world - MS, Amazon, Google, Apple, FB the giant goliaths. So now they do not need the old husk of machines simply break them officially by introducing the TPM hard requirement. It's using Secure Boot and TPM when both combine Windows Defender can even scan the BIOS, check Defender ATP page, they give this exact requirement to get BIOS scanning. Oh also they will abandon CSM on BIOS side, it was scheduled for 2020 got delayed, now I bet no Z690 and X670 boards will have CSM anymore, more UEFI licensing by MS, no more Windows 7. Plus TPM gets them even more data and control. Win11 home doesn't even work without MS Account.

    This POS dumpster OS should be avoided by any sane person. Win10 is better esp if you can get hands on LTSC and debloat it to basics, there's a new 2021 LTSC also coming for Win10 stick to the Win10 it's better. Win11 RTM will be broken garbage and there's absolutely no need to install it either.
  • flyingpants265 - Monday, October 4, 2021 - link

    I agree with most of this. In a few places I had no clue what you were talking about, but it sounds about right. Microsoft is just some company from the 90s, it makes no sense that they should have a global monopoly on operating systems or their user interface.

    I like the Windows interface. They have billions of dollars. They can improve it, make it work faster, better, more organized, and add more features. They are in a perfect position to do something good, but they just don't want to.
  • GeoffreyA - Tuesday, October 5, 2021 - link

    I think this is a pattern with Microsoft: a disappointing OS, followed by a first-rate one. ME, XP, Vista, 7, 8, 10. By this logic, Windows 12 should be worthy of applause.
  • TheinsanegamerN - Tuesday, October 5, 2021 - link

    But 10 was a major dissapointment for most. 11 shoudl have been the good one.
  • GeoffreyA - Thursday, October 7, 2021 - link

    I hated then grew fond of 10 after using it at home, aided by customisation and keeping "Settings" locked up in the attic.

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