Don’t rush to take this free upgrade

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Windows 11 will launch next week, much to the surprise of many. A survey of over 1,000 US Windows users released earlier this week found that 62% were not even aware of the new operating system.

Would you be worse off if Windows 11 completely missed you? Is there something about this latest version of Windows that makes the Windows 10 jump essential? The answer is no, but that doesn’t mean Windows 11 should be avoided either. Here’s what you need to know about Windows 11, and if you need to take the plunge.

Windows with a difference

Windows 11 is definitely an eye-catching upgrade. It’s the best-looking version of Windows to date, by far.

Microsoft’s decision to center the icons on the taskbar at the bottom of the screen has sparked howls of anguish from a hardcore who still thinks PCs should come in drab beige cases, but they do. should recover on their own. The new interface becomes second nature a day or two after switching to Windows 11 and if that really ruins your feng shui software, you can flip the icons to the left anyway.

The most impressive new interface feature is Snap Layouts. Hover your mouse pointer over the maximize window icon and you have the choice of aligning the window to the left or right of the screen, or a variety of different layouts. These screen layouts are available in Windows 10, but they are now much easier to find and make it much easier to work with multiple windows. Alas, even as release nears, it looks like this feature is largely limited to Microsoft’s own apps – it probably needs third-party developers to tweak their software – but hopefully there will be a late rush for that. be ready for the big launch on Tuesday.

Other modifications to the interface of Windows 11 are less attractive. Microsoft is taking another turn in desktop widgets, a concept it first experienced in Windows Vista. This time, widgets emerge from the left side of the screen, presenting a wall of Microsoft news feeds, sports scores, and weather. Unless Microsoft opens these widgets to third parties, this will become another feature largely ignored in obsolescence.

Microsoft has done a decent job of tidying up the operating system. There are fewer jarring flashbacks in old Windows menus. The old-fashioned Control Panel, while still there, is hardly ever needed, with the cleverly revamped Settings menu that handles all the boring administration tasks. As stated before, it’s a beautiful operating system, but what about the substance?

New features

As for the specs, there isn’t much to raise eyebrows. At least not yet.

Microsoft promised to bring Android apps to Windows 11 when it made its big summer announcement, but the feature was cleverly launched in 2022. If Microsoft can possibly pull it off, it could make Windows 11 a much more compelling choice. for owners of Windows tablets. / convertible, with a software library that was actually designed for touch instead of the mouse and keyboard. Until that happens, however, Windows remains a difficult operating system for tablet owners.

Perhaps more important is what’s happening with the built-in app store, with Microsoft practically throwing itself at the mercy of developers and allowing them to sell their software for free. This is provided that the software developer uses their own payment mechanism, which could add another layer of awkwardness. One of the attractions of app stores is that they allow you to easily shop with saved payment information. If you have to keep re-entering payment details and creating new accounts every time you buy something from the Microsoft Store, that makes it even less appealing than it already was.

Gamers love Windows 11. Now it’s possible for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers to stream games directly from the preinstalled Xbox app, which means you don’t have to go through the installation rigmarole and of updating the games. New DirectStorage technology – which sends gaming resources stored on high-speed SSDs directly to the graphics chip, bypassing the processor – may well improve gaming performance. And Auto HDR will increase the visual oomph of the games selected for those with HDR monitors. But understand this: All of these gaming features are coming to Windows 10 as well.

There are other little touches. Support for multiple monitors is significantly improved, stylus haptic feedback could be interesting, and the inevitable Microsoft Teams integration could make life easier for home workers. Still, in terms of new features, nothing will leave Windows 10 users with nasty FOMO access (fear of missing out).

Strengthen security

Perhaps the best argument for upgrading to Windows 11 is increased security.

Microsoft controversially restricts Windows 11 upgrades to those with relatively new processors (think 2018 onwards) and a Trusted Platform 2 module. This means Windows 11 bypasses some big security holes. inherent and irreparable in older processors and allows Microsoft to tighten its grip on malicious software that installs itself without your knowledge. Without going too deep into the technical details, there is also a new virtualization-based security system that prevents software from accessing parts of the operating system that it shouldn’t, again limiting the damage that users do. malware can inflict.

While we are talking about security, Microsoft is also making changes to Windows Update to reduce the size of security fixes. Microsoft says these will be 40% smaller and should update seamlessly in the background. Microsoft is also switching to Apple’s system of one major feature update per year, instead of the biannual cycle of recent years.

Windows 10: stick or twist?

If you’re buying a new PC, Windows 11 is a no-brainer. It’s a good operating system, it has a lot of cool little touches, and it looks just as attractive as macOS. There’s no good reason to upgrade to Windows 10 if you’re buying a new laptop this Christmas.

The decision is much less clear to current Windows 10 users who can – and I emphasize this, can – be offered the free upgrade. Microsoft’s new stringent system requirements will put Windows 11 out of the reach of a good proportion of Windows 10 users anyway, eliminating the upgrade dilemma.

Even if your system is eligible for the free upgrade – which Microsoft will be offering to eligible users over the next several months via Windows Update – there’s good reason to ignore it. Windows 11 doesn’t offer anything in terms of new must-have features, just a bunch of cool features. Several of these features are coming to Windows 10 anyway.

There is an element of risk with any major operating system upgrade, and while I have yet to see any reports of serious Windows 11 upgrade flaws, there is always a chance that it will. ‘hooks to your particular system. If you have a stable install of Windows 10 and none of the new features are hopelessly appealing, why take the risk? Windows 10 will be supported with security updates through the end of 2025, so there’s no rush to move. By 2025, you’ll probably be considering a new PC anyway.

Windows 11 is hands down the best version of Windows to date, but it’s only slightly better than Windows 10. There’s no reason to avoid Windows 11, but should I rush to install it on a properly functioning Windows 10 PC? No really not.

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