Windows 11 was released earlier this month and is now starting to be offered for free upgrade to Windows 10 users if their hardware supports it
I backed up my Windows 10 computer (just in case) and installed the update just two days before this blog post was published. That means I don’t have in-depth experience yet, but my initial impressions might help if you are wondering whether to take the plunge as soon as you are offered.
I’ve been looking to see if the free upgrade will always be available if you choose not to upgrade yet, but can’t find that information anywhere. However, given that Microsoft expect to take until the middle of next year to offer it to all Windows 10 users, I would think that you’d be safe for a while if you choose not to take it just yet.
So, my initial findings and reactions (in all of 48 hour experience) are as follows:
Downloading and Installing
This took about 80 minutes on a fast machine with a fast (75mbps) internet connection. It was completely automatic, not needing any intervention from me and not giving me any heart-stopping moments. When it had finished, everything just opened exactly as you would hope and expect. I can’t say, of course, whether it would be any more challenging on hardware older or less capable than my two month old Dell XPS 9510.
- It is definitely cleaner and easier on the eye than any previous version of Windows
- Even though it is cleaner, there are places where more information is shown on-screen
- I was pleased – and relieved – to find that the Control Panel is still present (Microsoft seem to have been hiding it further back into the operating system in Windows 10 of late and a lot of people thought/think it will be removed altogether soon)
- Windows system sounds have been improved
- There are now options available on the windows “restore” button (ie the button between a window’s minimise and close buttons)
- Windows 11 is meant to be (and feels) faster than Windows 10
- The taskbar has to be at the bottom of the screen (not at the top or on a side)
- The taskbar icons are a fixed size. Apparently, you can fix this with a registry tweak but be careful messing with the registry
- I haven’t been able to tweak the clock to get it to display seconds
- As always, right-clicking an item in Explorer brings up a “context” menu, but you now have to click another option within this to see all of the options
- I hope it’s just a temporary bug that causes the text of a currently selected item in a context menu to disappear
- There’s a new “widgets” option, but it’s absolutely full of (mostly American) rubbish that you can’t configure. Luckily, you can hide the widgets altogether and pretend they don’t exist just by deleting the icon from the taskbar
- The start menu now uses 50% of its space to show you recently opened items. You can turn this off, but it still allocates the same amount of space to it. Wasted real estate that could be put to far better use
Does it actually work?
I’ve run through my installed programs and have had to re-install one program (Todoist) as it just showed me a blank window when opened. It seems OK now. Also, my Oracle VM Virtualbox initially went round a loop half a dozen times before it would open. This, too, seems OK now. Everything else has been fine (so far).
My lists above shows more “Against” than “For” but I think most of the “Against” probably come under the category of “niggles” and “teething troubles” rather than anything else. My overall impression is that Windows 11 is good. I know I’m giving a hostage to fortune here, but I’m going to stick my neck out and say that I think I’m going to like it.
Should you dive in and upgrade now?
I haven’t found anything – YET – that causes me to caution against installing it and the process of actually doing that was the least painful of any Windows upgrade that I can remember (and my memory of these things goes back to Windows 3). On the other hand, there are no reasons that I can think of why you should feel compelled to take the plunge – at least yet. There’s no software that requires it and there’s no feature in it that will change your life.
In summary, I think I would recommend that if you normally think of yourself as an “innovator” or “early adopter” then go ahead and do it. If you’re a bit more cautious and want others to find the problems first then hold back as you’re not missing anything important.
Just as a postscript, there is a program called Winaero Tweaker that allows you to tweak many aspects of Windows. It’s powerful, but you can get in a mess with it if you get it wrong. The latest version has a section for Windows 11, but I was disappointed that my attempts to solve some of the taskbar problems didn’t work in Winaero’s tweaks. Hopefully the wrinkles will get ironed out in the fullness of time.
Finally, I reiterate that this blog was written with just 48 hours experience of Windows 11 and with experience on only one machine – a new, quite powerful laptop – so don’t blame me if your experience is different. On the other hand, don’t let my disclaimer put you off if you’re of a mind to go for it.
Finally finally, be aware that you only have 10 days to roll back to Windows 10 from Windows 11.