The world’s most popular desktop operating system Windows 10 has been largely unchanged for the past six years, but a major overhaul is underway with Windows 11. Despite Microsoft proclaiming Windows 10 to be the last version of Windows. The Windows-using world-at least some of it has something to cheer about after a couple of years of ho-hum updates.
While Windows 11 looks quite different from Windows 10, we were surprised that it isn’t too different from Windows 10. From the screenshots, we expected it to be more. The taskbar icons are in the middle of the window, and the settings dialog feels more elegant, but it doesn’t feel completely alien or require a whole new process, as Windows 8 did.
Window 11 represents the next evolution of Windows; it is the most substantial update to the operating system since Windows 10. A fresh experience that is flexible and fluid provides many innovations focused on improving end-user productivity.
New Taskbar Look, With New But Limited Options
You’ll immediately notice a difference when you launch Windows 11. The Taskbar buttons have been moved. Using the new layout, they’re now in the center, giving off a more “mobile OS” feel, or maybe less generous Chrome OS and macOS.
Windows 11 brings a major redesign to the Start menu. On its panel, it is dominated by the icons of its vestigial elements, with a section for the latest and most frequently used apps and documents below. Mini-tiles in the Start menu is good for touch input, but you lose information provided by live tiles, no matter how annoying those could sometimes be.
Like Windows 10, you’ll see dark theme options under settings, as well as preloaded background wallpaper options. This is an overall modern look and feel, as is the sound, which is bubbly. They work fine until a glitch causes them to ding forever, forcing me to restart my OS. This is a work in progress, and it shows.
Start Menu Killed the Live Tiles
Do you remember Live Tiles? The square and rectangular tiles that Microsoft introduced on Windows Phone, then brought over to Windows 8. On Windows Phone, Live Tiles were a revelation. I honestly liked them a lot. On Windows 8, they were an abomination. Everyone hated them, even this Windows Phone fan.
Now, it’s a floating rectangle that almost serves as its own window. If you move the Taskbar icons to the left, you’ll get something a little more familiar. But even still, the Start Menu is now a mix of “pinned apps” and recommended files and folders. If you want to get to all your apps, you’ll have to click through to them.
The new look is bound to be controversial. Some people are going to hate it, I’m sure. And the best you can do is move things to the left. It won’t be the same, and I can’t find any options to customize the Start Menu—at least not yet. Another new thing? Rounded corners on all the windows, from the Start Menu to programs you install.
New and Better Windows Snap Options
In Windows 11, you’ll also find a brand new feature buried inside the maximize button. Choose the program you want to maximize, such as Chrome (of course I have Chrome installed) or File Explorer. With the new snap options, you’ll see a diagram showing how any window will appear. You can move your window by clicking one. Additionally, Windows will offer the option of snapping a second window.
Windows 10 didn’t have an additional Snap sizing option with the new button diagram feature. It’s kind of like “two-thirds of the screen for one window and one-third for the other”. It’s good because half and half is not always the best choice.
The “News and Interests” Widget Gets a Downgrade
We are already having qualms with the “News and Interests” widget in Windows 10, and somehow the new look in Windows 11 is even worse. Integrated right out of the box, it’s missing borders and backgrounds. Building on this “somewhat mobile device” new look.
Instead, they float around and clutter up the place. When that is the case, it is not broken. Are you aware that this is an unfinished build? Yeah, not everything works. The stories vanished midway through the test, and the widget window suddenly took on a background. The widget will likely undergo a number of changes before it is released.
New Store and Android Apps
Windows 11 will allow Android applications to run, but with a few caveats. These can either be downloaded from the Amazon Appstore inside Windows’ Microsoft Store or sideloaded as APKs. The Store sees a slick new design, but it lacks the Android app support in this preview build. Additionally, to apps, the Store also offers movies, TV shows, and games.
Gaming and New Technologies
New Windows updates never forget PC gamers, and Windows 11 is no different. The benefit is seen in two areas: game selection and technology. Xbox Game Pass will be made available via Windows 11’s Xbox app. Microsoft’s Xbox Cloud Gaming app will also support titles like Halo Infinite, Twelve Minutes, and Age of Empires IV.
Time for a New Windows
The main thing I notice about Windows 11 in just a few hours is all that hasn’t changed. As you dig deeper, you will find that most things are similar. It’s all the same in the settings panel, as well as in the control panel. Obviously, we still have the aging control panel as well as the modern Settings UI.
It doesn’t appear as though File Explorer or virtual desktops were changed. It’s all the same with the action notification center, so it won’t be of much use. Notifications on desktops have not changed either. As a result, Windows 11 feels just like Windows 10 with a redesigned desktop. As soon as you’ve overcome the shock of the new Taskbar and Start menu, there aren’t too many differences.
Maybe that’s a good thing. You might be tempted by wanting a complete overhaul; after all, it’s Windows 11, not Windows 10. Nevertheless, even a few minor tweaks could avoid another Windows 8 fiasco.
Windows 11 requirements
To install or upgrade to Windows 11, devices must meet the following minimum hardware requirements:
- Processor: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster with two or more cores on a compatible 64-bit processor or system on a chip (SoC).
- RAM: 4 gigabytes (GB) or greater.
- Storage: 64 GB* or greater available storage is required to install Windows 11.
- Graphics card: Compatible with DirectX 12 or later, with a WDDM 2.0 driver.
- System firmware: UEFI, Secure Boot capable.
- TPM: Trusted Platform Module (TPM) version 2.0.
- Display: High definition (720p) display, 9″ or greater monitor, 8 bits per color channel.
- Internet connection: Internet connectivity is necessary to perform updates, and to download and use some features.
- Windows 11 Home edition requires an Internet connection and a Microsoft Account to complete device setup on first use.
Windows 11 compatibility checking tool
If you’re still running Windows 7, you should be able to run this compatibility checker, but the chances of you being able to run Windows 11 are likely slim. According to the WhyNotWin11 developer, it is a “Detection Script that identifies why your PC isn’t ready for Windows 11.”
There are various hardware compatibility checks WhyNotWin11 will perform, including CPU type, TPM version, RAM, and others.
Download the latest stable build from here: GitHub/whynotwWin11
Using the tool (you will need administrator permission) should result in the following:
The tool itself is fairly self-explanatory. An item in green indicates that it meets the requirement.