Upgrading to Windows 11 may not be the doddle it appears
Since my blog post of 23rd October (Windows 11 – first look), several of my IT Support clients have asked me for an update on my Windows 11 experience. Should they update to Windows 11? Do they need a new computer?
Well, I’m afraid I can’t yet give a definitive view of this as my own personal saga with Windows 11 is still very much an ongoing situation. Before going any further, I should say that I am sure that a lot of people must have had a pain-free upgrade to Windows 11 and I don’t know just how typical is my own experience.
In a nutshell, I upgraded to Windows 11 in October using the Windows Update service and the result has been a disaster. You wouldn’t believe the number of different problems I’ve had appear (and sometimes disappear only to reappear). The most serious of these has been that File Explorer hangs regularly (and, boy, do I mean regularly). It just stops. I have to open Task Manager and restart it. This affects my access to any data files. You only have to enter “Windows 11 file explorer” into Google Search and see the most popular endings to that search term to get the idea (eg slow, crashing, bug, not responding).
Eventually, over this holiday, I decided that I’d have to bite the bullet and do something drastic. My initial idea was to install a licensed retail copy of Windows 10 in my new computer, side by side with the functionally challenged Windows 11. This is known as “dual booting”. When you start the computer, you choose which “copy” of Windows to start. Each copy is kept entirely separate from the other on the drive in different “partitions”. I spent 3 hours on the phone with Dell on Wednesday trying to find out why I couldn’t do this, only to be told that you can’t do it on a Dell. However, it turns out this was something of a misunderstanding. They just meant to say that they don’t support you if you choose to do it. They then told me of the peculiar way the Dell XPS is set up such that all the instructions on the internet to install a second operating system would not work anyway. Thankfully, they have given me the fix for this.
So, here I am on Friday 31st December, writing this blog post for the weekend, having just installed a pristine, virgin, squeaky-clean, copy of Windows 11.
Oh yes, I forgot to say that possibly the most important nugget of information I got from Dell this week is that upgrading from Windows 10 to Windows 11 using the Windows Update method seems (to them, at least) to cause a lot more problems than installing Windows 11 from scratch or buying a computer with Windows 11 already installed.
And that is undoubtedly what our transatlantic cousins would call the “takeaway” of this blog post. If you currently have Windows 10, then I would definitely advise AGAINST upgrading to Windows 11 in the near future using the Windows Update service. I still haven’t found one single thing in Windows 11 worth taking the risk of suffering one hundredth of the grief that I have experienced (although I understand that it is more secure). The upgrade may get smoother in the future, but it can be a nightmare at the moment.
I should stress that, on the other hand, the knowledgeable person I spoke to at Dell thinks that if you buy a new computer now with Windows 11 already installed, then you will probably be OK (even if somewhat underwhelmed at what Windows 11 has to offer over Windows 10).
So, my original plan to install a trustworthy Windows 10 in a dual-boot situation next to my rubbish Windows 11 has now changed and I’ve installed Windows 11 from scratch on its own. It’s worth pointing out that if you upgrade to Windows 11 using Windows Update (which is what caused all my problems) then you don’t lose your data or have to re-install all your programs, settings, etc. If you take the nuclear option (as I have just done) then your entire computer is wiped clean and installing Windows 11 is then the starting point of many happy hours re-installing programs, configuring everything the way you like it, and putting your data back. Not for the faint hearted (or anyone else who has a life).
If you are still tempted by Windows Update’s offer of a free upgrade to Windows 11 and you think I might be exaggerating the problems just because I’ve had a hard time, then I would suggest that you start by googling “Windows 11 problems” and see if you feel as brave after fifteen minutes of seeing other people’s experience.
“Bring back MS-DOS”, that’s what I say.