Windows 11 review: Is it the right time to try the new shade?
Windows 11, Microsoft's new PC OS brings a slew of new features from Snap Assist, Snap Groups, revamped Start Menu, but there are a few hidden midges that one needs to consider before upgrading.
Published:Fri, October 29, 2021 6:26pm
By Meghna Dutta
Who doesn't love fresh paint in their old windows? Microsoft felt the same except it brought new Windows with a new shade for its user base. The Redmond-based company rolled out the Windows stable build for the general masses on October 5. The upgrade version is yet to reach all eligible devices, and the company plans to continue its new PC OS activation process till 2022.
Windows 10 was introduced back in 2015 and it took the company six years to bring the new version. With the new Windows OS, Microsoft makes some big promises from simplifying the interface to making it more secure for users. The notable change on Windows 11 is the 'stringent' hardware requirements and the addition of Android apps to the OS (which is yet to take a concrete form).
I have been using the latest Windows OS for a few days and it no doubt feels fresh, especially the subtle changes that amplify the experience. While the primary OS looks refined, there are a few midges under the hood. Which brings down the debrief of whether to upgrade or even get a new PC to try the new Windows OS? Here's all about the blue shade.
Windows 11: New look, new features
Windows 11 looks more simplified compared to the previous iteration. The icons are revamped and though the company hasn't made any drastic change to the taskbar it has more so been aligned putting new buttons at the centre to keep the user 'focused.' The visual cues can be seen across tiles be it the Start menu or widgets that display information- Weather, Calendar, etc.
But while it gives a pleasing view that one could ask for, those who are inclined to using Windows 10 might find it a bit difficult to adapt to the tweaks as the previous version was all about pushing everything in the lower-left corner.
Moving on, there are a few nifty features that might initially look complicated and most likely be ignored but can come in handy if your day ends up sticking to a PC or a laptop.
Workation on the go!
Desktops feature, for instance, helps set up and manage several iterations of your desktop. Although the desktop icons remain the same across different desktops, you can set up an individual name for each and tweak the cosmetics. Thinking what's the point of using the feature if there's barely any change, well it allows opening different apps on each desktop much like having different layouts on the home screen on a smartphone. Simply to say, you can set a personal and a separate workspace and entwine in different tasks simultaneously. During my usage, I could well arrange my personal mail, gaming accounts, and file folders on one setup and all the work apps into another.
Teams now join other icons
Microsoft Teams now comes integrated into the new OS. The purple icon next to Widgets just makes it easy to access and chat with colleagues and while Teams saw a huge uptick in users as pandemic pushed for remote work culture, Microsoft seems to keep this niched for better reach.
Snappity-snap with Snap Layouts and Groups
These new features on Windows 11 have been the talk of the town lately. Although Snap has been there since Windows 7, it now feels more functional. The new Snap Groups and Layouts introduced with Windows 11 allow organizing the open windows and offer more granular control. Hovering over the maximize button on the top right corner will show up a bunch of layout options. Once you pick a layout Windows will pop up the apps that you are using in the background and will let you assign them to different slots. Windows 11 will then try to automatically remember the layout so that in case you minimize them you can quickly access the apps in the same arrangement. While the approach might look familiar for those using macOS, at least it will now help new Windows users to stay organized.
Notifications, widgets: Something new, something borrowed
Microsoft is trying its best possible way to help users get accustomed to its primary OS. The new version takes cues not just from Apple but from the smartphone neighbourhood as well. Windows apps now have curved corners, and the Notification Centre is now clubbed with Time and Calendar. The built-in widgets that once used to lurk on Windows 7 make a return to the new version. The Widgets have its own taskbar button and sit next to the Desktops feature. Press it and a semi-transparent will pop up showing widgets for weather, calendar, photos in OneDrive. You can customize and add widgets although there aren't as many options available. Beneath it you will find Top Stories that lists out six news articles from major publications.
Quick Settings panel lies right next to the clock at the lower-right corner. Tapping on it pulls up the panel showing audio settings, brightness level on the computer, WiFi, Accessibility, etc. Hit the pen symbol that will allow adding controls like Keyboard Layouts, Casting, etc. Besides these mainstream changes, audio cues for blinds, and themes for those with light sensitivity are some of the welcoming aspects of Windows 11. There are tons of other minute changes like voice typing that can now add punctuation, a redesigned File Explorer with vibrant coloured icons to help recognise them easily.
Android Apps incoming (someday)
Android apps support on Windows 11 undoubtedly turned heads during the launch event, but the implementation is limited to the Amazon app store and Microsoft has only begun testing it last week which means we will have to wait to test the function. However, the Microsoft Store is now more coherent and is organized into apps, movies, games, and TVs. The store can manage the installation of apps right from the web which means you don't have to individually open a tab to download an app.
What's in it for gamers?
It goes without saying that Microsoft pays due care for gamers as well. There is Auto HDR, DirectStorage, and Xbox features as well. Auto HDR will bring high dynamic range or simply to say make the lighting in games appear better that lack the HDR benefit. While DirectStorage, stores data on the graphics card for faster load and access. These are useful features for gamers, however, to take advantage one would require a system that supports HDR, and games that run on DirectX 11 or higher, and at least PCIe 3.0 NVMe SSD with 1TB of space for DirectStorage. To keep the excitement intact, the company has paired Game Pass with Xbox apps offering all the entertainment on a single window.
Windows 11: Added patch, system requirements
As explained by Microsoft, the following are the system requirements to salvage the new OS
1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster with 2 or more cores on a compatible 64-bit processor
4GB of RAM
64GB of internal storage
UEFI secure boot
TPM version 2.0
Graphics Card which is compatible with DirectX 12 or later with WDDM 2.0 driver
High definition (720p) display that is greater than 9" diagonally, 8 bits per colour channel
The elephant in the room: Whether you should upgrade to Windows 11 or stay traditional?
When Microsoft made a pompous fleet about its latest Windows OS at the launch event it felt like a barn door, a major shift from Windows 10. But after using Windows 11 for a good number of days I can safely say that the new OS is more centered towards delivering a simplified experience to the users which many might have missed on the earlier version. As pointed out, the Start Menu carries the hallmark of Microsoft's 'Fluent design language,' and the new features (Snap Assist to be precise) make multitasking a smoother experience. While base requirements are fine, Microsoft's security-focused Trusted Platform Module (TPM 2.0) can be a bottleneck for users especially gamers and those who plan to get cheaper laptops that usually don't have a TPM chip. The new PC OS no doubt looks visually appealing and some of the features come in handy with day-to-day tasks. However, it still feels like an unfinished business, which I could notice while playing games on my system. Although it can be a GPU compatibility issue, the recent Windows 11 update for AMD Ryzen CPUs to patch performance issue makes me wonder the frame drops are tied to the new OS. Having said that I would still recommend users to wait until the tech firm rolls out the highlighted features and further updates so that you get to experience a stable and more polished version.