Almost a decade ago, Microsoft introduced Windows 10 as the last version of its operating system ever. Now Microsoft has announced the end of the road for Windows 10. Windows 11 will soon replace it and bring significant updates, new features, a cleaner desktop and …
… and a collection of annoyances to remind you of the glory days of Windows 98 SE.
So let's talk about the potential major advantages and disadvantages of Microsoft's upcoming operating system.
The benefits of Windows 11
Windows 11 isn't just Windows 10 with a new collection of wallpapers. Fortunately, many other tweaks and improvements make upgrading to the latest operating system tempting.
That said, the new operating system's wallpapers are indeed gorgeous!
1. Nice glass
Windows 11's new desktop aesthetic tries to mimic the look of glass. As a result, there is a lot of transparency on many desktop elements, from windows to menus.
This transparency goes hand in hand with related effects like background blur, drop shadows, and rounded corners. All GPU accelerated for a buttery smooth user experience. It should be both sleeker and faster than Windows 10.
2. Bar for docking
As with Mac OS and many Linux desktop environments, Windows 11's taskbar can turn into a dock. The icons on it can be centered which helps when using Windows 11 on a touch enabled device.
Fans of the classic taskbar can still align the start button and the app icons to the left.
Note that we've looked at how to make your Windows 10 desktop look like Windows 11 if you like the look of Windows 11 and the centered taskbar in particular.
3. Return of the widgets
Did you prefer widgets, the tiny floating information windows in Windows Vista and 7, to the live tiles in Windows 10?
The new widgets in Windows 11 appear in a separate area that is inserted from the left edge of the screen. They also seem more geared towards presenting information than working as mini-apps.
However, this isn't a breakthrough feature – and before that, we covered how to bring widgets back to the Windows 10 desktop.
4. Easily accessible snap layouts and groups
Windows already supported the snapping of windows on the sides or corners of the screen in rudimentary arrangements. Originally “borrowed” from other operating systems, the function was further expanded with the FancyZones function of Windows PowerToys.
Now a new and improved version in Windows 11 brings the feature for everyone and places it in a quick menu that hovers over the maximize button.
5. Android apps on Windows 11
Up until Windows 10, if you wanted to run an Android app or game, you could either remotely control your smartphone or run an emulator. Windows 11 comes with built-in support for Android apps.
In theory, you can install almost any Android app or game, click it, and it'll pop up on the screen, much like native Windows software.
6. Next generation gaming
One of the most touted features of the new Xbox and PlayStation is how their CPU, GPU, and memory subsystems are interconnected. DirectStorage is the equivalent for PCs.
DirectStorage is expected to result in massive performance gains for applications that juggle huge amounts of data. Usually this means "games" in the first place. For more information on this new and exciting technology, check out the details to learn what DirectStorage is and how it can make gaming faster.
Auto HDR is also making the leap from the latest Xbox consoles to PCs. It can improve the look of older games by automatically increasing their brightness levels and taking advantage of the entire brightness range of modern monitors.
7. Teams for everyone
A single click on the Windows 11 taskbar is enough to chat with friends and contacts using text, voice or video.
This is thanks to Microsoft Teams, who brought Microsoft to the fore as the primary Windows 11 solution for communicating with family, friends, and colleagues.
A standard video conferencing solution built into the operating system will feel like a great addition to many users. Although, as some may notice, there are better alternatives.
The disadvantages of Windows 11
Not all is rosy with the upcoming version of Windows from Microsoft. You may find many changes and tweaks questionable and reason enough to stick with Windows 10.
1. Accelerated desktop
Thanks to the current hardware shortage, it is almost impossible to find a new GPU at a reasonable price. As a result, many have postponed a GPU upgrade into the distant future.
For those interested in Windows 11, that future may not be that far off as Microsoft's new operating system requires a GPU that is at least DirectX 12 compatible, with a WDDM 2.0 driver.
2. Where is Skype?
Skype was the first application to popularize peer-to-peer video calling. Today, Skype seems lost in a sea of similar and sometimes better video calling alternatives.
That's probably why Microsoft almost replaced it with Teams in its Windows 11 presentation.
3. Less taskbar
From what we know about it so far, Windows 11's taskbar might look fine, but it's more of a downgrade from a usability perspective.
The ability to move the taskbar to any side of the screen is gone. Now it hangs at the bottom of the screen.
Likewise, clicking the middle mouse button on an icon will no longer start new instances of apps that are already running.
4. Forgotten timeline
Remember how Microsoft presented Timeline as another visual way to stay organized? The timeline keeps track of the way we use the computer and can then show the apps and documents we have accessed, the websites visited, etc. in chronological order.
It was a good idea on paper, but rarely used by anyone. If you were one of those who liked it, stick with Windows 10 because the timeline is gone in Windows 11.
5. Goodbye Cortana
Cortana is Microsoft's version of AI-powered helpers like Google's Assistant and Amazon's Alexa that you interact with by voice.
However, it might be more appropriate to say "was" since Cortana is no longer anchored in the operating system. However, you can download, install, and use Cortana as a separate app.
6. Fewer layouts, more delays
Windows 11 lets you quickly snap any window onto the screen based on predefined window layouts. However, if you've installed Microsoft's own PowerToys in Windows 10, you could create your layouts too. It wasn't that easy, but it was a lot more versatile.
As a bonus, the standard way to align windows is to hover your mouse pointer over the button to maximize a window. To move the cursor is to hold it steadily over a desktop element and wait for the operating system to recognize that you want to access the layout's quick popup. This "wait" may not be annoying, but it takes longer than pressing a hotkey or clicking a hotspot on the screen.
7. Let Microsoft know you
We can safely speculate that Windows 11 will also send more information to Microsoft about our computers and how they are used. You have to sign in with a Microsoft account in order to be able to fully use all functions of the new operating system regardless of the edition.
Add in how Windows 11's desktop widgets use AI to show you tailored information (and advertising) by monitoring your interests, and fans of George Orwell's 1984 may want to skip the upgrade.
8. You cannot do it
However, the biggest downside to Windows 11 is that you may not be able to run it. Even if you have a GPU that is capable of speeding up your brand new desktop, the rest of your PC may not be up to the task.
Microsoft argues that in order to have a great experience, you need great hardware. As a new, modern operating system, Windows 11 also requires relatively new, modern PCs.
If your PC's CPU is older than Intel's 7th generation Core processors or AMD's Zen 2 processors, you're out of luck. However, the bigger problem seems to be with TPM 2.0 compatibility.
While you can find TPM modules in most laptops and many pre-built PCs, most DIY PCs don't have them. And no TPM 2.0 support means no Windows 11.
Windows 11 is inevitable
Despite its pros and cons, whether you like it or not, Windows 11 is coming and it will eventually replace Windows 10. As with all previous versions of Windows …
We'll appreciate some of the new features and tweaks to the established desktop formula.
We'll need more time to get used to others.
We'll end up using third-party tools to "fix" the ones that end up being annoying.
Let's hope Windows 11 breaks Microsoft's meme-worthy story of chasing every great version of Windows with a bad one and ending up more like Windows 10 or 7 than Windows 8 or Vista.
Image credit: Microsoft
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About the author
(2 articles published)
OK's real life started at 10 when he got his first computer – a Commodore 128. Since then, he's melted keycaps by typing around the clock to spread the word of tech to anyone interested enough to listen. Or rather read.
From Odysseas Kourafalos
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