I’ve been using Windows 11 for a month now, and I’m a big fan of the upgraded operating system so far. But is it groundbreaking to the extent that you’ll find it hard to go back to Windows 10? Not really.
I’ve been frequently swapping between Windows 11 and Windows 10 systems in recent weeks, and while jumping back to older versions of software can often be jarring, I didn’t find this to be the case with Windows.
Don’t get me wrong, I think Windows 11 is a welcome improvement. Menus are cleaner, multi-tasking is easier and the Microsoft Store is no longer a nightmare to use. I also find it a more seamless process to switch between games and my desktop, which comes in handy when googling Football Manager guides during a match. Once Windows 11 officially launches, I recommend all Windows 10 users take the offer of a free upgrade.
However, I suggest you don’t get your hopes up too much. Despite the pleasing aesthetic alterations and a number of useful new features, Windows 11 still feels very similar to Windows 10. This ensures it’s very easy to adjust to when making the transition over to the newer operating system, but it also means that Windows 11 isn’t the game-changing generational leap that some may have been hoping for.
Windows 11 has failed to address some of the biggest bugbears of Windows 10 so far. There are still no tabs in file explorer, shortcuts still look cluttered on the desktop and navigating the settings can feel like wandering around a labyrinth. Microsoft may have seemingly taken some inspiration from macOS for the new design, but the Windows 10 DNA is still clearly present throughout.
Microsoft continues to push its own native apps too. I quite like the new widget-style news feed that Windows 11 has introduced, but the news stories will send me to the Microsoft Edge browser, despite changing my default app preferences to Chrome. Having Microsoft Teams integrated into Windows 11 will likely be a divisive choice as well.
And then there’s the taskbar. I actually like the centralised look, and appreciate that you can switch to a left alignment if you prefer – but it would be nice if you could move it to the side or top of your desktop too. There aren’t a great deal of customisation options here either, as you can’t alter the height of the taskbar or increase/reduce the size of the pinned apps. I also find it odd that you can’t drag and drop apps to the taskbar in order to pin them.
It’s important to remember this is still a preview build, and Microsoft is expected to keep updating and improving its new operating system, even beyond the ‘Holiday 2021’ launch. A lot of my grievances could well be dealt with in the coming months.
But for now, I can see why Microsoft is offering Windows 11 to Windows 10 users for free, as I don’t think there are enough changes here to justify a paid-for upgrade.
I’m sure you’ll like Windows 11 once you finally make the jump, but the novelty will likely fade after a week if you’re anything like me. If you’ve already downloaded Windows 11, then let us know what you think by getting in touch on Twitter.
Ctrl+Alt+Delete is our weekly computing-focussed opinion column where we delve deeper into the world of computers, laptops, components, peripherals and more. Find it on Trusted Reviews every Saturday afternoon.