Taking Microsoft’s Windows 11 for a Test Drive

For tech critics, criticizing a new operating system is an absurd ritual.

It’s like having a professional home inspector who gives a report that always goes like this: Here’s what you need to know about the house you’re about to move into. Some parts are great, but there are big problems. However, you are moving on anyway, so you have to learn to live with it.

That’s because operating systems are essentially where your digital life takes place. If you have a personal computer built to run Windows, you’ll probably continue to use the next version of Windows, no matter how good or bad it is.

I felt the same way while trying windows 11Microsoft’s first major operating system update six years. The company has marketed it as a fresh start of Windows with a modern, people-centric design. (It’s nothing new given how tech companies constantly remind us that their products were designed for users rather than my Labrador retriever.) The software will be a free update for many Windows personal computers this holiday season.

New to Windows are tools for productivity, such as the ability to quickly shrink and rearrange Windows, and support for mobile Android apps. Yet Windows 11 is ultimately an evolution. While improvements are taking place, parts of it are disappointingly familiar.

I tested an early, unfinished version of Windows 11 for a week. Some are high, like a design that makes software behave similarly to mobile devices, and some low, like the dated concept of widgets, which are essentially miniature apps that live inside a dashboard on your screen.

Here’s my inspection report summarizing the good, the good and the ugly.

Microsoft Officials have called Windows 11 a new beginning for personal computing that focuses on people. Corny wordplay was intended to highlight the biggest design change in Windows: the iconic Start button, which has traditionally been squeezed into the lower-left corner, has shifted toward the center of the bottom. And now the start button does not load the list of settings and apps; It shows a folder of your apps.

This is the same interface we use Apple and Android Smartphones and tablets, which show a tray of important apps at the bottom center of the screen. Nevertheless, it is a welcome change. The Start button in previous versions of Windows opened a laundry list of apps and settings that scrolling through was tedious.

The most interesting new design change is a feature called Snap Layout, which I loved. In the upper-right corner of an app, when you hover your mouse cursor over the maximize-window button, a grid opens to show the various arrangements that automatically minimize or restore the app.

So if you want to reposition an app window so that it takes up only the left side of the screen, you just click on the corresponding icon to snap it to that position. This is much faster than moving a window and dragging a corner to the proper size.

Yusuf Mehdi, a Microsoft executive, said that several additions to Windows 11, including support for Android apps, were designed to keep people in flux on their machines. when you place an order Uber, For example, you no longer need to have an Android phone to call a car and can do it directly from the Uber app on a Windows machine.

Yet many of the new features didn’t keep me in flux.

One of them is the ability to create multiple desktop spaces, which Microsoft calls Task View. The idea is that you can have one desktop screen for every aspect of your life. One desktop can be dedicated to working and showing shortcuts to your email and calendar apps. The other can be devoted to your personal life and show shortcuts to all your games.

It all sounds good, but splitting my life into separate desktop screens quickly got annoying. Looking for the right app to switch to and launch on a specific screen takes much longer than using the search tool to quickly locate and open the app.

Windows 11 also reintroduces widgets, a concept that Apple and Google operating systems have been using for a long time. The widget is basically a lightweight app that’s always open, like a weather app, calendar or stock ticker, so you can take a quick look at important information. To view widgets, you click a button that has a drawer of them all running side-by-side.

I’ve never gotten into the habit of using widgets on any of my smartphones or computers because they feel unnecessary – and it was the same with Windows 11. Widgets show a bite-sized amount of information, like a small view of your calendar. Current date and your next appointment. But whenever I checked my calendar widget, I wanted to open my full calendar app to see all my events for the month.

Microsoft plans to allow Windows 11 users access to Amazon’s App Store to download Android apps. It wasn’t available for testing yet, but I’m guessing it might be blocking your flow with widgets. Let’s say you like a great Android to-do-list app and add all your tasks to it. If the same app isn’t also available as a widget, you won’t be able to see your to-do list in the widget dashboard. Why bother with widgets?

These are still early days, as Windows 11 is officially due for release over the holiday season and much about the software is subject to change. But one issue that is unlikely to change is that for security reasons, personal computers, Include fairly recent chips from Intel and AMD To install Windows 11.

This means that millions of computers running Windows 10 on older hardware, including some that are a few years old, will not be able to run Windows 11. So at some point, those users will have to buy new computers to get the stronger security benefits and new features in the operating system.

In other words, unlike previous updates, which are free, Windows 11 could mean you have to pay for a truck to move into a house that feels familiar enough, with some new window dressing.

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