comscore Windows 11 preview: Many pluses with a few big minuses
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Windows 11 preview: Many pluses with a few big minuses

Microsoft officially releases Windows 11 for everyone on October 5. We spent some time using the latest Windows operating system and here's what we think about it. Check new updates, latest features and other details here.

  • Published: October 6, 2021 4:32 PM IST
Windows11

Windows 11 is officially live globally and we will like to give our take on it. You can also install/upgrade it provided your PC meets the minimum system requirements. Given below are the pros and cons. Also Read - Best laptops to buy under Rs 45,000 in October 2021: Dell Inspiron 3515, Acer Aspire 5, more

Pros
–  A free upgrade
–  Great features for Power users
–  Good features for gamers
–  Can run Android apps
Cons
–  No IOT functionalities
–  Cortana takes a back seat
–  Some useful features removed
–  Compatible with recent PC configs. only

Unlike the past where we have seen a significant jump in terms of new features, functionalities, U.I./U.X. changes with each new Windows iteration, such as from Windows XP to Vista or from Vista to Windows 7 we don’t see a similar significant leap from Windows 10 to Windows 11. It still looks like an H2 (aka second Half year) Windows 10 update. Also Read - Microsoft releases fix for AMD CPU performance issue with new Windows 11 update

That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t come packed with many useful features. There are significant changes under the hood that will allow it to run easily on ARM devices and many more. We’ll cover this and more below: Also Read - Android apps now available on Windows 11, but only for beta testers

Tricky Minimum system requirements

Processor 1 Gigahertz (GHz) or faster with 2 or more cores on a compatible 64-bit processor or System on a Chip (SoC)
Memory 4 GB RAM
Storage 64 GB or larger storage device
System firmware UEFI, Secure Boot capable.
TPM Trusted Platform Module (TPM) version 2.0
Graphics card Compatible with DirectX 12 or later with WDDM 2.0 driver
Display High definition (720p) display that is greater than 9” diagonally, 8 bits per colour channel.
Internet connection Microsoft account and internet connectivity required for setup for Windows 11 Home

Despite Windows 11 being a free upgrade and having a lean minimum system requirement on paper it still won’t work on a 5-6 year old or earlier Windows machine irrespective of whether it was a top-end Core i7/i9 or a Ryzen 7 machine. A 2–3-year-old Windows machine will also not work if it doesn’t have TPM 2.0 or GPT supported hard drive or UEFI supported BIOS.

We understand these are too many jargons for you to understand. To make things easy for you, simply install the PC health check app available in the link: https://aka.ms/GetPCHealthCheckApp and check whether your PC supports Windows 11 or not

Though there are various unofficial ways to bypass minimum system requirements and run Windows 11 on your PC however we would highly recommend not to do this as your PC might crash or run into some problems.

Let’s go through the look and feel of Windows 11 first.

Reminiscent of Windows Vista aero theme

If you have used Windows Vista’s Aero theme in the past, then you will see a similar translucent glass-like experience on Windows 11 which has more rounded corners and fluent iconography that makes it a little different from Windows Vista. Side-by-side comparison between the two in the picture below:

Centred start menu, task bar items

We really appreciate that Microsoft moved the Start button and other taskbar items to the centre of the screen while at the same time gave users the freedom to roll back to the left-aligned start menu. However, we don’t think it will bring any difference to a power user, who may keep 37 apps/items open in the taskbar at a time, which forces the Start button to push to the extreme left.

Bugs

Bug #1

If the Start button is centrally aligned and when the Start button gets pushed to the left side of the taskbar after opening several items, the start menu opens up on the centre side of the screen while the start button appears far away from the menu items. Refer image below:

windows 11

Bug #2

If a user has opened more than 37 items on taskbar, there is no toggle button to see the next set of items after the 37th item. The only way to access the next set is through Alt + Tab toggle switch. Which is a big bummer according to us

What is missing?

  • We can’t drag/align the task bar to other 3 sides (left, right and top) of the screen
  • Stretch the bar upwards to see the next row of task bar items
  • Locking/unlocking the task bar is absent too

Game Mode

Game mode is a good feature, by default, that helps in preventing gaming interruptions such as disables restart prompt/notifications from appearing in the middle of gameplay as well as stops certain programs from running such as Windows update performing driver installations. Not only that it helps PC churn out a couple more FPS as well as reduces input lag. In our gaming tests on Cyberpunk 2077, Forza Horizon 4, Battlefield V & Pubg we could easily get 5-10 more FPS occasionally as well as 1-3 ms higher response time. In other words, it doesn’t make a night and day difference to the gameplay experience, but it does bring in some improvements.

Widgets

Widgets that were already available in Windows 10, now have more capabilities, customization options as well as a redesigned look & feel in Windows 11. We can now add, enable/disable 3rd party widgets such as One drive photos, Outlook and To do list.

Battery consumption

Available Under Settings -> System -> Power & Battery

Those who are curious to know which app consumes how much battery/power have a reason to smile.

Now you can get detailed battery usage data, along with battery utilization per app at a granular level i.e. power consumption when app in use, background.

windows 11

New features for touch-enabled devices

2 in 1s, touchscreen laptops have several reasons to smile.

Swipe gestures: Swiping right from the left side of the screen opens the widgets tab. Swiping left from the right side of the screen opens the notification centre and a monthly view of the calendar. Action centre as seen in Windows 10 can now be accessed separately by tapping on the 3 icons set (Internet, Volume, Power/Battery status)

3-4 finger gestures: Swiping down with 3 – 4 fingers will minimize all opened apps to show desktop, swiping up with 3-4 fingers will restore the last opened app.

Improved portrait mode: If you change your device orientation from landscape to portrait, snapping the first app to any side of your device will make it stack on the top half of the screen then snapping the next app will stack it at the bottom half of the screen. After doing so if you change the device orientation from portrait back to landscape the snapped apps will restack on the left and right side of the screen.

Redesigned action centre

The action centre on Windows 11 has now become condensed and doesn’t show app notifications nor the monthly calendar view. Though it does come with slider controls to adjust volume or screen brightness which was not available in Windows 10. To access the action centre, click on any of the 3 icons set Network, Volume, Power/Battery.

windows 11

Notification centre and monthly calendar view can now be accessed separately by clicking on the date and time appearing in the system tray. Though the monthly calendar view can now be minimized to only show the notifications from the notification centre, we can’t see all the meeting invites, birthday reminders below the calendar as seen on Windows 10.

windows 11

Multi-screen context remembrance

If you have a second screen connected to your PC, you have snapped 2 apps left & right on it and then you disconnect the 2nd screen, the 2 apps snapped left & right will move over to the primary display of your PC. If you reconnect your 2nd screen back it will restore the 2 apps snapped on the 2nd screen in the same order (left & right) before the second screen was disconnected. The cool part here is that even if you minimize or change the size of the 2 apps on the primary display after disconnection (from the 2nd screen) it will still restore the apps in the same snapped state (left & right) on the 2nd screen as they were before disconnecting from the second screen

Improved Window Snap functionalities

New Snap layouts: Apart from snapping the windows to any of the four corner Snapping can now be done by mouse hovering the maximize button of every window to see 4 or 6 different ways to snap windows layouts. But this may vary, depending on the size of your display, you may see a few or more layout options.

windows 11

Snap layout preview in the taskbar: Windows 11 taskbar will be able to show the group of snapped windows when you hover over an app that has been snapped. For example, if we have Microsoft Edge and File Explorer snapped on the screen, we can see that hovering over Microsoft edge on the taskbar. We can select the window or the group that has edge and file explorer. So, let’s say if you switch to another app, you can quickly return to the group of windows that you have snapped together.

What we really miss

There are a couple of features that we consider to be useful but are not there on Windows 11

Drag & drop to taskbar disabled

A nifty feature (I was a regular user of) that allowed you to drop files and folders to apps appearing on the taskbar till Windows 10 is surprisingly disabled from Windows 11. We wish they bring it back in the future Windows 11 update.

windows 11

Tiled App animations on Start Menu disabled

Metro UI-based apps aka App tiles in the start menu used to give away important details/latest updates relevant to that app without opening it. For e.g. if you have the Facebook app’s live pinned to the start menu on Windows 10 each rotating side of the app tile/cube would give away information such as if I have received a new friend request or if someone has liked my post etc. With this feature missing from Windows 11, the start menu looks very downgraded at the expense of bringing simplicity to the new Windows 11.

Stripped out Cortana

Cortana is no more a part of the search functionality. To make matters worse it can’t do some intermediate-level smart functions anymore such as pulling meetings from the calendar or adding reminders which were very much possible in Windows 10 – Cortana version. It can only do some basic web queries such as how is the weather outside, currency rates INR to USD etc.

Final verdict

Given that Windows 11 does come packed with several features, functionalities and the upgrade is free it really doesn’t add any massive appeal to the general PC audience. It does make sense for a touch-enabled PC owner such as Surface devices, 2 in 1s to upgrade or if you have the latest hardware where you can make the most out of Windows 11 such as faster boot time (if you have an onboard SSD), Auto HDR (if you have an HDR display) and better performance on Game Mode.

It is not compelling enough for an average PC owner with an average PC configuration to make the transition. In fact, Microsoft with its strict minimum configuration requirement doesn’t let a PC owner of 4–5-year-old machine (which is a significant PC user base) upgrade to Windows 11. Given that Microsoft is not pulling the plug on Windows 10 anytime soon i.e. they will continue supporting it till October 2025, if you have a relatively old PC configuration we recommend that you stay with Windows 10. For a new PC buyer, transition to Windows 11 is recommended. What do you think about Windows 11? Let us know in the comments below.

For the latest tech news across the world, latest PC and Mobile games, tips & tricks, top-notch gadget reviews of most exciting releases follow BGR India’s Facebook, Twitter, subscribe our YouTube Channel. Also follow us on  Facebook Messenger for latest updates.
  • Published Date: October 6, 2021 4:32 PM IST



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