It’s been nearly a month since I bit the bullet and created a clean installation of Windows 11 (see my previous blog posts on 23/10/21 and 01/01/22)
Here’s the good news – it’s been working smoothly and almost perfectly, and I now have a fairly high degree of confidence that I’m not tempting providence by writing that down. There’s just one thing that needs looking at when I’ve got the time and inclination, and that is that there seems to be an issue with external USB drives.
So, what do I think? Well, it looks nice and it seems to perform as well as Windows 10. If it seems like I’m damning it with faint praise then that’s because I probably am.
OK, I understand that Windows 11 is more secure (and that’s why it won’t run on older hardware), but apart from that there seems to be very little new functionality and a lot of tinkering with how it looks that doesn’t actually make it any easier or more pleasant to use.
Take the Start Menu, for example. They’ve moved the listing of “All Apps” so that you now have to take an extra action to access it (move your mouse from where you’ve just clicked on the Start Menu icon and click on a button to the top right of the Start Menu). A bit annoying, but at least you can understand that they did this to make the Start Menu cleaner and give more room for personally-chosen pinned items.
Less comprehensible is that if you choose not to display “recent files and new apps” on the Start Menu (as I have done) then 50% of the Start Menu real estate is wasted. Note on Figure 1 the two dots at the right. They are there because I have to click on them in order to show the pinned items that won’t fit on the top half of the Start Menu because they’ve chosen to waste half the real estate with the unused “Recommended – recent files and new apps”. They have just completely wasted the space saved by not showing “all apps”. Is it just me, or is this poor design? For the thousandth time, I ask myself “Do these people never use their own products? Do they not test them? Do they not ask for the opinion of others?”
I’m also annoyed that you can no longer increase the depth of the taskbar so that it holds two or more rows of icons. This is made worse by not being able to make the taskbar icons smaller without messing up the display of the information in the “system tray” area at the right. Oh, do forgive me, I was forgetting that Microsoft have renamed the system tray to “Taskbar Corner Overflow”. I wonder who came up with that snappy name and I also wonder why. I am now definitely channeling Victor Meldrew again.
One of my gripes about Windows 11 is that they have removed the ability to display seconds in the system tray clock. Most people probably won’t notice this, but it annoys me. Apparently, Microsoft think that displaying seconds causes a disproportionate performance hit on the system.
I realise that I’m giving the impression that I don’t like Windows 11. In fact, it’s OK. It’s easy on the eye and doesn’t take a great deal of getting used to (although they have changed the “Settings” area quite a bit). And now that I’ve got a decent installation, I am starting to trust that it will work properly.
Nevertheless, if I think about the way they remove previous usability and add extra keystrokes to perform simple tasks, I just find myself shaking my head sadly and wondering “Why?”
1. In view of my own awful experience of updating to Windows 11 using Windows Update, I wouldn’t recommend doing that.
2. In view of the lack of any obvious reason to do so, I wouldn’t recommend completely wiping your drive and starting again with Windows 11 (as I had to). If you are sticking with a Windows 10 computer, then stick with Windows 10.
3. If you are buying a new computer, Windows 11 seems just fine and, hopefully, you won’t have any more Victor Meldrew moments than I have had.