Should I Upgrade To Windows 11?
Windows 11 is now available as a Windows update, and is showing up as a free upgrade to all users currently running Windows 10 operating system (no Windows key required)… provided their computers meet the strict system requirements required for the upgrade.
Windows 11 Minimum System Requirements:
- Processor: 1 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: Minimum of 64 GB hard drive
- System firmware: UEFI, Secure Boot capable
- TPM: Trusted Platform Module (TPM) version 2.0 or later
- Graphics card: DirectX 12 compatible graphics / WDDM 2.x
- Display: 9-inch or greater display with HD Resolution (720p minimum)
- Microsoft Account: Users must sign in with a Microsoft Account
- Internet connection: Internet connectivity is required to upgrade.
Are You Eligible For The Windows 11 Free Upgrade?
You can run Microsoft’s PC Health Check app (free download) to see if your Windows PC is ready for the free upgrade to Windows 11. Upon completion, the PC Health Check app will tell you if you are eligible for Windows 11 operating system, and if not what criterion you are missing.
**Note: If the only issue with the upgrade is “PC needs TPM 2.0 enabled”, this is often a setting that can be enable in your computer’s BIOS UEFI settings. Windows 11 security updates require this feature which may simply be disabled by default. An easy enough fix for a computer technician, but do they really expect the average user to edit their BIOS when many can’t even change their own desktop background?
What If My Computer Is Not Eligible For Windows 11?
Is upgrading to Windows 11 necessary?
What will happen if I keep Windows 10?
Windows Operating Systems are supported for many years. If the PC Health Check app informs you that you’re ineligible for Windows 11, the Windows 10 operating system will be officially supported until October of 2025, so you have at least 4 years of Windows 10 support before this becomes an issue.
Windows 11 Review:
What’s New With Windows 11?
The biggest difference between Windows 10 and Windows 11 is its minimalist design that seems to mimic the MAC OS in many ways. Microsoft has simplified the interface quite a bit, making it seem cleaner and easier to use than previous Windows versions.
The aesthetics of the new Windows 11 design features rounded corners, pastel shades, and they’ve centered the Start menu & Taskbar though this can be changed back to the left in Windows Settings.
Windows 11 Start Menu
For example, the Start Menu – now centered in the taskbar by default (though you can change it back to the left side in Settings) – no longer displays the clunky squares of “Live Tiles”. I think this was a good move. No one I know has ever used them, and they always felt like intrusive advertisements to me.
Instead, the Windows 11 Start Menu opens to an app tray – a clean window with icons for apps and programs. It feels very similar to the desktop of mobile phones. Recently used programs will be at the top, and you can click to expand the view to all installed apps & programs.
Windows 11 File Explorer
The new Windows 11 File Explorer has a sleeker, more minimal design. I hate it. It looks great, but they’ve made it more difficult to utilize context menus (right-click menus) to do basic tasks like cut, copy & paste, extract zip files, delete or rename. These were not broken and did not need “fixing”. What I really wanted was tabs, like in an Internet browser instead of having to keep multiple windows open. Disappointing.
**Note: Some users, though not many have reported that the context menu in Windows 11 is sluggish. This is a known issue Windows 11, and a bug fix has been included for Windows 11 Insiders.
Windows 11 Snap Layouts
Windows 11 Snap Layouts works similarly to Windows 10, enabling you to have two or more apps or programs open side by side. Windows 11 makes the process much easier and the layouts more varied with six different grid styles that are easily accessible by hovering over the Maximize button on any app.
- Side by Side – 50/50 split
- Side by Side – 70/30 split
- Side by Side by Side – split into even thirds
- Side by Side by Side – split 50/25/25
- Side by Side by Side – split 25/50/25
- Four Quarters – Two apps side by side on top, and two more side by side on the bottom
**Note: Layouts may vary based on the size and resolution of the display monitor.
Windows 11 New Microsoft Store (Windows App Store)
The Microsoft Store has been redesigned for the new OS, and the new version is admittedly easier to navigate. That said, app and game developers largely ignore the Microsoft Windows Store, favoring android apps and Apple Store apps, so the availability of useful apps is still largely underwhelming so… um… woohoo?
Windows 11 and Android Apps
It’s expected that at some announced time in 2022, Windows 11 will offer Android app support from the Android Apps Store that are hosted by the Amazon App Store (think Kindle Apps), which would actually be amazing and make the Microsoft Store super useful. Had they added Android Apps to the Windows Phone it might have actually gotten some traction.
Windows 11 Virtual Desktops
Another nod to Mac OS is the introduction of virtual desktops – allowing Windows users to create multiple virtual desktops. You can then toggle between multiple desktops (with different shortcuts) for all your activities – one desktop for school, one for work, one for leisure, etc. Technically, this was available through Task View features on Windows 10, but the options were very limited.
I don’t personally find this feature useful because I don’t use my desktop for navigation or storage, but if you do, it’s likely you’ll appreciate this feature.
Windows 11 Gaming Upgrades
I’m not a gamer myself so I can’t speak to any of this firsthand, but DirectStorage will supposedly improve gaming on Windows 11 by capitalizing on the speed of modern SSD hard drives. Windows 11 will also incorporate “Auto HDR” (high dynamics range). Auto HDR broadens the range of colors displayed on screen making everything seem more vivid.
Windows 11 also has the Xbox app built in. The Xbox app allows PC gamers to play games using Microsoft’s “Game Pass for PC” (for a recurring monthly membership fee).
Windows 11 Microsoft Teams
Instead of Skype, Microsoft Teams is being crammed down your throat with an icon front and center in your taskbar that you can only remove by poking around in settings. Teams is an app for collaborating with a team of people using chat, file-share, calendar & scheduling, and audio/video calls.
It’s kind of like a private social media platform for a specific group of people, and it’s often used by businesses to enable communication between staff. I’ve never met a residential customer who’s intentionally opened Teams, but for some reason Microsoft really wants them to.
Remember those widgets we hated in Windows Vista? They’re back – yay! The customizable widgets icon is accessible from the taskbar of Windows 11.
Using An External Monitor
One of the other new features Microsoft touts about Windows 11 is in regards to the use of an external monitor. Windows 11 will remember the windows you’ve moved to your external monitor, and saves that information when you disconnect the monitor. When you plug it back in, it will recreate your windows on the correct monitor screen. I’ve certainly had this trouble myself on Windows 10, and I’m glad to see Windows 11 has taken steps to fix it.
Pros & Cons Of Windows 11
PROS Of Windows 11:
Logins are supposedly faster with Windows Hello (fingerprint, facial scan, or PIN). This was an option with Windows 10 as well, and I don’t personally notice any difference between Windows 10 and Windows 11 login speed (using a PIN or fingerprint). That said, both let me in nearly instantaneously, so if it is indeed faster… good job shaving off that microsecond, Microsoft!
Windows 11 also promises faster web browsing and faster wake from sleep due to improved memory management code that prioritizes what you are actively working on over background tasks. I can attest that my laptop and all-in-one both wake from sleep faster than they did on Windows 10. The speed boost to web browsing seems to only work with the Microsoft Edge browser, which I don’t use.
**Note: It would seem that in improving the memory management code, they broke something in the code. A memory leak issue is causing many Windows 11 computers to run sluggishly until File Explorer (or the computer) is restarted. Along with other less prevalent bug fixes, this bug will likely be patched soon.
Microsoft also expects faster & more stable Windows Updates and security updates from Windows 11, due to their update sizes being reduced by 40% so they’ll take less time to download and install. I do appreciate this one, Microsoft!
I actually really appreciate the dark mode options in Windows 11. It makes it much easier to work long hours without eye strain. Enable dark mode from Settings, then click “Personalization”. Find and click “Colors”, and the first option will be “Choose your mode” and you can choose dark mode.
For those that use touch screens, Windows 11 will have bigger touch targets (making it easier to open apps, manage files & resize or move windows) and will be otherwise optimized for use with touch. Windows 11 also added gestures for opening & closing windows, switching virtual desktops, and has improved the Windows Ink Workspace. None of these were available in Windows 10’s laughable “tablet mode”, so Windows 10 touch screen users, more than then typical Windows 10 user, might consider making the switch.
CONS Of Windows 11:
Compared to Windows 10, many things I do during my normal workflow require extra steps on Windows 11. For example:
Windows 10 had a dedicated WiFi icon in the System Tray that you click to see/connect to available wireless networks. Connecting To WiFi on Windows 11 requires you to first open the notification panel, then click the WiFi button before you see the network list. A minor annoyance, but worth noting if you switch WiFi often.
They’ve completely removed the option to drag and drop to the taskbar! Why?!!! Why would you take this functionality away, Microsoft? This one is actually the biggest dealbreaker for me, and the reason Windows 11 is only on my secondary computer. Check out the video below to see what I mean.
Should You Upgrade To Windows 11? The Taskbar Is Why I Will Not.
In addition to the inability to drag or drop from the taskbar, it is also notable and frustrating that you cannot move the taskbar to the top, right or left of the screen as you could in Windows 10 & previous versions of Windows.
You can no longer right-click the taskbar to launch task manager. Instead, to find task manager you must open the Start Menu, click All Apps, scroll to the very bottom of your apps list, open Windows Tools (which opens a new window) then search for Task Manager inside this folder. Wow. Why?!!
Microsoft REALLY wants you to use their stuff, and the integrations that Windows 11 has enabled by default seem intrusive to me. For example, Teams being hard-coded in the taskbar icons, the integrated search bar is locked to Microsoft Edge and Bing and I can’t change it to Chrome or Google Search.
I was really hoping for a simpler process for user account creation in Windows 11. In Windows 10, you need to log in to create a new user account, and do make one without creating a Microsoft Account required extra clicks. No means no, Microsoft! I was hoping Windows 11 might be easier than Windows 10, but it’s actually so much worse. There seems to be no way to create a new user without an Internet connection and MS Account.
I was hoping that Windows 11 might improve the setup process of web cameras, mics and headsets. Many people are now working remotely, and I get calls frequently from Windows 10 PC owners that are confused by the setup (choosing the correct device, disabling onboard cameras to use USB options, selecting the default audio devices, etc.). I’ve seen no difference in Windows 11.
Should You Upgrade To Windows 11?
I’ve been using Windows 11 frequently for my business and for personal use, and all my software works. I haven’t had any bugs, crashes, blue screens, compatibility issues, unsupported hardware, or errors (though I’ve heard QuickBooks & Oracle VirtualBox don’t work with Windows 11), so It’s certainly a smoother launch than some of Microsoft’s previous Windows launches (remember Windows 8?). It’s certainly better than Chrome OS, but…
That said, for me the cons far outweigh the pros. I would advise staying on Windows 10 until they release future updates to make the experience more user-friendly for the average user.