Windows 11 review: Microsoft’s most pleasant OS—until it isn't
thats, really my big question after testing it out for months now and getting to spend a lot of time with the final build with windows. 10, microsoft basically had to make a huge course: correction from windows 8, which, if youll remember, was really focused on touch screens and tablet, pcs and just things that people werent really using uh. When that thing launched and before that, there was windows 7, which itself was an apology for windows, vista, which was too bloated and slow and kind of a really dumb, follow up to windows, xp, so theres kind of a story to all of these windows versions. Over the last few decades and windows 11 just feels different, its just kind of here. It was announced kind of suddenly and we didnt really have much time to really prepare for it and now that im playing with it, you know it just doesnt seem like much. Has changed, but you know what maybe thats the point you know it is basically a new coat of paint on top of windows 10, and it also feels like microsoft, is trying to save phase from windows 10x, which was supposed to be the dual screen. Focus version of windows 10 that was going to be on the surface neo and a bunch of other pcs that got delayed and theres a whole history to that which ill get to, but i think overall, just after spending so much time with windows 11.
It just seems like microsofts attempt at being the most mindful os, or you know the most calming and pleasant experience that you can have with windows, Music, and i wonder if microsoft is just really leaning heavily on those visual changes. At first glance, it looks like a radical departure right. The taskbar is in the center thats crazy. We havent done that in windows. Ever it looks like a mac. So why would we do that? The start menu has been reworked once again, which is again something microsoft. Doesnt want to touch after what happened with windows 8.. They created a start page that took up the whole screen and windows users kind of hated it, but you know ill. Take this new start menu over live tiles because nobody ever used those things – and i dont know why theyre even in windows 10., this newer fresher, look extends throughout the operating system. So you know, windows have rounded corners. Everything looks a little fresher. The new settings section just looks a lot nicer too, its a lot cleaner and easier to figure out where things are, and you know i just really appreciated all that, so it feels a little different from windows. 10. It just feels more pleasant overall, which again, i think, is what microsoft is going for here. Uh windows, 10 was so focused on being the most productive os possible. Uh, microsoft really had to work a lot to change things up from windows 8, and maybe some design elements got left by the wayside.
Windows 11 feels like a design focused, upgrade and dont worry. If you dont like the center taskbar, you can always shove that back to the left and get a more traditional view. But you know for my reviews. I just kind of kept in the center to see what microsoft is going for here and ive gotten used to it, but get to what some of those organizational issues are, because you cant see window labels anymore, and i do think that could be a problem for Some people, among other new changes, the system tray that whole area has been reworked, so the systems notification area, which is what pops up when you hit the lower right corner. You know it looks a lot cleaner when it comes to notifications, the camera, the calendar, its nice to have the calendar right there. The system shortcuts also look a little cleaner overall too they pop up when you hit the volume button or your wi fi button down there and that lets you do quick things like change. The volume change, the display, brightness turn wi fi on and off um. Some of those settings are confusing because when i first started testing out windows 11, the night light button wasnt there and then all of a sudden. It just appeared there too, so theres a lot of things that just seem like they dont quite make sense and you cant actually get manual control over those buttons either. Windows 11 also marks a return of widgets back to windows.
They were kind of in windows 7 and i dont think anybody will care theyre, tiny little apps they pop up. When you hit the widgets button in the taskbar. They give you a bit of news in the weather and quick search functionality and everything, but i dont. I dont see the point in them: thats not how i use my computer anymore and maybe if they were integrated into the start menu in a better way. Maybe that would be useful, but then thats just live tiles all over again, so i dont know tell me how you feel about widgets folks, because im not a big fan. There are also some big app changes throughout windows. 11 too. The new windows store just looks a lot nicer, its a little better organized, it has a left hand menu. It makes it much easier to just figure out whats in your app and what you should install and when you click into an app listing, it kind of is divided into two separate frames, which always has the install button uh front and center. So, if youre checking out reviews or just want to see a description of an app and just want to go back and install it, uh yeah its always going to be right there. I think thats both a usability thing and also it probably will encourage people to install more apps, im sure thats. What microsoft wants windows 11 also comes with the latest xbox app baked in right into the os.
Previously, it was something you had to go out and download its nice. You can organize all your games and you can access game pass games there and stream some titles too, over xcloud. If you have a you know, xbox all access account, so its nice overall, its a its a good place to have all of your games organized you can access all your game pass titles if youre subscribed to that it does a lot of things that the older Xbox app didnt the weird thing about both the store app and the xbox app is that theyre also going to be coming to windows 10, eventually, which again makes windows 11 seem like less of an upgrade and maybe more of just a version, number shift. One of the few technologies thats going to be really exclusive to windows 11 is direct storage, which is basically the technology microsoft uses on the xbox to speed up load times with newer nvme ssds. For some reason, windows 10 isnt going to be getting that maybe as a carrot to encourage people to upgrade. But if you want to have the best pc live times possible, uh gamers will want to upgrade. I think for everybody else. Uh. You know there are a few compelling reasons to do so unless you really want this new aesthetic youre going to get that store app and the xbox app. So a lot of things are going to trickle back down to windows 10.
running windows, 11. For the first time on a new pc, i was testing on the surface laptop studio. The setup process is really easy and simple and honestly, very relaxing you, you know, enter your username, your microsoft account. You click a few options. You still can choose. If you want to open up your information to advertisers and things like that, and then it just kind of goes, it does most of the work and its done within five to ten minutes. Uh youll be looking at the new desktop thats, a really nice experience for a new pc um. I think its going to be a little more controversial once people start realizing the differences between windows, 11, home and pro when microsoft announced windows 11. They also mentioned just kind of casually that an internet connection and a microsoft account is required to set up windows 11 home, so that is kind of a major restriction. Windows has never had that before windows 11 pro doesnt have that requirement. So basically it means windows. 11, home users, cant set up a local account to you, know, start using their computer if they dont have internet and they have to use a microsoft account for windows 11, pro thats more for it users and pro users who may want to be setting up different Sorts of systems or entire fleets of systems, so that requirement isnt there. Personally, i just find that really annoying, because it kind of goes against the whole windows mantra and microsofts new mantra being very accessible and reaching the most users possible.
Not everybody has fast earned access or internet access at all, certainly in america and definitely worldwide. There are billions of people without good internet access and theyre. Just not going to be able to use windows, 11 or theyre gon na have to find workarounds or go to a friends house or something to set it up, and yeah theyll also be required to use a microsoft account to set up for the first time we Talked with microsoft about this, and they confirmed that you dont have to be online all the time and you can use local accounts once you set up that pc for the first time, but it just seems like a whole process that is getting in the way of This supposedly pleasant and peaceful windows 11 experience. I expect a lot of people are going to be upgrading their systems instead of getting entirely new pcs and thats, also where a little more confusion is going to come in. Microsoft has set up some really restrictive requirements for windows 11. Basically at least eighth generation intel, cpus uh. You know tips around four or five years as old or equivalent amd chips. Youre gon na need to have a tpm, 2.0 module and youll need to have secure boot enabled on your system. These are all things that are meant to make windows. You know more secure its in the name and its a way to fight against malware and bad software in general, like things that could make windows very vulnerable, theyre, really trying to lock down windows 11, but that upgraded experience for some people, especially if you have a Computer thats kind of on the border between unsupported and supported stuff that could be really annoying for a lot of people.
I set up some computers like the surface laptop before which came out this year. It worked like a charm. It worked through windows updates, didnt have any issues kind of just ran on autopilot, but when it came to my desktop, which i put together myself and it has an amd ryzen 5800x – and you know an asrock motherboard – i had to manually – go in enable secure boot Turn on the tpm, and then i learned that my windows install had like uh. It was on an mbr formatted disk rather than gpt and thats. Where things just get complicated, i had to do a bunch of command line work to convert my disk uh for it to actually work in the secure boot, install thats, all something that i dont think people will actually want to deal with and certainly not mainstream users, But i think more experienced windows. Users are going to have some complications like that, especially if you have a custom built pc. I think, after some of the uproar around these upgrade restrictions, uh microsoft revealed that hey youre going to be able to download an iso or installation media and just do a manual install which will avoid some of those chip limitations. But it makes for more complicated installation and its not something everybodys going to use and according to the verge, what microsoft is saying is that it seems like uh. They may limit certain security updates on those manual installations, so i dont know whats going to happen.
It seems like even microsoft is still trying to figure out how restrictive it wants to be with windows 11.. So after all that how is windows 11 just as an operating system, honestly its nice its easy to use its pleasant, i really like the new interface. I think its just feels like a more calming os, which is something microsoft has honestly been going for since uh those really ugly windows, xp colors. They went with green and blue on those, because apparently people thought that would be a really calming thing for pc users. I just found it really ugly back then. The complications with windows 11 are more about learning. How to use the new taskbar. It is icon focus now you cant enable window labels anymore. So i always did that to see what was exactly in a window before i opened it now you kind of have to click into the icon or hover above it look for the specific window and then click or you could use alt tab or windows tab to Kind of juggle between all your apps, its just not as seamless as im used to for windows, its a lot like mac os. Actually – and you know i even have trouble navigating windows there. I typically use mission control and apples expose feature to blow up all the windows and, let me choose specific ones, i guess ill just have to get used to windows tab on windows 11.
, i dont know it seems like microsoft, wants to make everything. Look more seamless and less cluttered, but im used to clutter i kind of work better in clutter. So i wonder if a lot of people are going to agree with me or with what microsoft is doing so lets get back to my original question, who needs windows? 11, i think like thanos windows, 11 is inevitable. It is one of those updates youre gon na get eventually. Microsoft has just started rolling it out, but i dont think many people will need to rush out and get it. Those game features like direct storage theyre. Also, adding auto hdr, eventually, which is also on xbox those arent around yet so you can wait a couple months and wait for all of your accessories and apps to be fully compatible with it. Ive had some issues just upgrading to wireless drivers and stuff, just like started acting very odd. So again, you dont need to rush out, and the visual changes are nice, but i dont think that alone justifies the entire new windows version, so thats kind of where im at with this you know microsoft is trying to be more pleasant, and mindful with this, you Know it wants it to be a relaxing experience, except the upgrades are so complicated. The requirements are so complicated and i think for a lot of people moving uh. An existing computer from windows 10 to 11 is going to be kind of a headache, but i guess well see its also hard for me to just accept windows 11 as entirely new version, because a couple years ago this was going to be windows.
10 x. You know, and last year microsoft announced that 10x would focus on single screen devices instead of dual screen devices, because it turns out even the surface, neo wasnt, making it on time. I think, because of the pandemic, a lot of pc makers that want to make dual screen devices – just couldnt really do it. They basically have transformed windows 10x into this thing, and earlier this year they announced that windows 10x was going to be canceled entirely, and some of that work would go into normal windows just a couple weeks after that they announced windows 11, and a part of me Wonders does microsoft just want people to buy new pcs? This is kind of a good time for that, because everyone, a lot of people, are working from home. A lot of people are still doing school work from home, and you know a new pc seems tempting our lives are kind of revolving around these things. Right now and heres, my big takeaway, a whole new version of windows is certainly going to get more attention. More media focus and more headlines than a mere windows, 10 update and i think thats exactly what microsoft wanted. Stay tuned gadget.com for more of our windows, 11 coverage and well be reviewing pcs that are running this too.