Microsoft earlier this year announced Windows 11: The next generation windows. Windows 11 is officially out today and is a free upgrade for existing Windows 10 users as long as they meet the requirements. I have been using Windows 11 since the day it was announced with the help of the Windows Insider Program.
Microsoft has given Windows 11 a fresh new feel with rounded corners, glassmoraphism design, a new settings app, support for android apps, and much more.
After updating to Windows 11, you will see the way Microsoft has taken design ideas from macOS, Chrome OS, and even mobile operating systems. A new centered taskbar with an all-new Start Menu that hovers over the taskbar.
The Start Menu has been simplified with the removal of Live Tiles that were introduced in Windows. This simplified UI now includes Pinned applications on the top along with recommendations at the bottom that shows recently downloaded applications and documents that have been recently updated.
The taskbar icons have been shifted to the center of the screen which can be shifted back to the left side if the user wants to, but Microsoft has removed the file dragging and dropping directly in the taskbar which was present in Windows 10. Editing the taskbar is also not as simple as it was in Windows 10, right-clicking on the taskbar now only shows one option i.e., Taskbar Settings from where the taskbar can then be tweaked.
But the centered taskbar does give Windows 11 a new look and feel with its glassmorphic design. The windows have also been given rounded corners through the interface to make the UI more modern.
Microsoft has completely remade its settings menu which is now easy to navigate with colors and icons. But not everything is included in the setting panels, Microsoft is still using the old-style control panel interface which is disappointing to see being reused.
Windows 11 brings back widgets with a dedicated section present in the taskbar that opens a dedicated section where the user can view these widgets. Currently, they are limited to Microsoft-provided widgets and cannot be dragged to the desktop or anywhere else. Another downside to this is that whenever you click on these widgets to get more information it neglects your default browser and uses Microsoft Edge. The same issue is present when using the unchanged search menu.
Speaking of browsers Microsoft made it very difficult for users to change their default browser by making the user go through multiple options assigning the browser you want to use individually. Mozilla to tackle this allows Firefox users to set it as their default browser with just a single click bypassing Microsoft's protections.
Windows 11 also includes deeper integration with Microsoft Teams. The integration currently does not support work or school accounts. But it if your family and friends communicate using Microsoft Teams; this makes it easier for you to make audio/video calls, messaging, and screen sharing.
The quick settings tab has also been separated from the notifications tray and now has its now section which can be customized by the user and is accessible by clicking on the WiFi, Volume, and Battery indicator. Windows 11 also brings a more simplified notification center that now shows the calendar in a collapsed as well as full view with all the notifications at the top.
The File Explorer also got a redesign with new colorful icons, a new command bar interface for easier navigation, and a more simplified right-click options menu.
Windows Multitasking got a major overhaul with the ability to easily snap & arrange windows anywhere on the screen by simply hovering over the maximize button or using Windows key + arrow keys to snap them in place. Hovering over the maximize button shows the various ways you can snap the window. Microsoft is calling this feature Snap Assist.
This helps in easy window management when using multiple monitors, or even virtual desktops. Windows 11 also brings a neat feature where the software will create a group of the multiple windows that are opened together and be stored in the taskbar for easy access.
Windows 11 will also remember window placement when using multiple monitors meaning if you are using your laptop with an external display and for some reason, you disconnect your laptop. Instead of messing with the window placement, Windows 11 will smartly minimize those applications and then open them in the same way once the laptop is again connected. The feature worked flawlessly for me.
All-New Microsoft Store
Windows 11 brings around an all-new Microsoft Store which allows the developers to submit any application to the store allowing third-party browsers and regular desktop applications t appear in the search results.
Microsoft Store's UI has been updated for Windows 11 with individual sections for apps, gaming, entertainment, and a library section that shows updates and purchases.
The new policies placed by Microsoft have already shown a big impact with popular apps like Discord, Zoom, OBS Studio, VLC, and many more have made their way to the new Mircosoft Store. Microsoft even allows other app stores to also be displayed on the new Microsoft Store like Amazon Appstore (for Android Applications) and Epic Games Store. Maybe Steam will also make its way to the store in the future.
Microsoft claims Windows 11 to boost PC gaming, but the performance difference is not noticeable from Windows 10. Windows 11 adds the Auto HDR feature from Xbox that automatically improves HDR support in games where the developer has not added the feature. Direct Storage has also been added in Windows 11 that significantly improves the loading time when using an SSD in games that are compatible.
Direct Storage is not a Windows 11 exclusive feature, it will be coming to Windows 10 in the future as well as it is being implemented directly to the Xbox app.
Pre-built gaming systems might get hit with Windows 11 due to Virtualization-Based Security (VBS) which can impact the gaming performance by 28%. This will not affect people upgrading to Windows 11 or doing a clean install, but new gaming PCs could ship with VBS enables.
Windows 11 brings a lot of improvements to touchscreens and tablets. The most notable upgrade being its touch keyboard that now comes with new themes and a theme engine that allows customization of the keyboard with background images.
New touch gestures have also been added for more fluid navigation; a three-finger gesture sideways lets you switch between apps, swiping downwards with three fingers to go back to the desktop, four-finger swipe can be used to switch between various virtual desktops, swiping up with four-fingers to preview all virtual desktops.
Microsoft's built-in applications have also received some update which includes Paint, Clock, and Photos.
Paints dropped its ribbon interface for a command bar along with an all-new design with a neat multi-view feature that allows viewing multiple photos in a single window.
The clock app now includes focus sessions with a new feature that uses the Pomodoro Technique which is a method of managing time by breaking down work into smaller chunks including short breaks. The focus sessions include Spotify integration.
Windows 11 feels incomplete as there are still many things that Microsoft has to work on like the audio controls, task manager, some applications having sharp corners instead of rounded and many of these first-party applications don't even support dark mode.
The new centered taskbar takes a little time to get used to. It didn't take me a lot of time to get used to it though because I used to center my taskbar in Windows 10 as well.
Microsoft made a big deal about Dark Mode while marketing Windows 11. While using the insider build, I though that Dark Mode will be ready and implemented throughout the OS. But that is not the case many prompts, windows, first-party applications still don't support dark mode. Windows 11 still does not support automatic switching between light and dark mode based on the time of day.
Windows 11 is still not complete, it is still missing a lot of features including the universal mute and unmute feature, Dynamic Refresh Rate functionality to preserve battery life, no Android application support.
Windows 11 brings a fresh new look to windows, but it is not perfect and is missing a lot of features. I have not faced any performance issues except a few crashes here and there, but that was during the Beta. I love using Windows 11.
But I won't recommend you to immediately update your main PC to Windows 11 if you are a power user or a gamer. Even though the gaming performance is good, it is not perfect and I did see frame drops here and there when comparing it to Windows 10. Windows 11 is the same Windows that everyone has been using for years; the only thing that has changed is its look and feel.