Windows 11

Early thoughts from a virtual machine.

I do like Windows, overall. I may have had some issues with Windows in the past but it really is a great OS for pretty much any person. Last week, Microsoft announced Windows 11, a “brand new” version of Windows coming out this fall. It’s also available to try out using the Windows Insider Dev channel.

Naturally, I spun up a new Windows 10 VM (Parallels for Mac makes this a ridiculously fast process), enrolled in the Insiders program, and updated the VM to Windows 11. Lots has already been written about Windows 11 so I don’t need to run down the major features, but I do want to give some passing thoughts after clicking around for a while:

  • The new UI changes are really nice. I don’t like the centered taskbar, and the start menu needs to be more customizable, but simple things like context menus are cleaned up all over the place and generally more consistent. It reminds me of the UI changes from macOS Big Sur, where it looks drastic at first but you soon realize that it’s still the same UI you already know.
    • I love the transparency. I’m a sucker for shiny effects like that.
    • The settings app is so much better than Windows 10. More capable, better arranged, and just easier to use. Nice work, Windows team!
    • File Explorer seems like it’s only half-baked. Sure the ribbon is gone, replaced with a simpler command bar, but that’s about it. It’s still basically the same explorer from Windows 7 and 8.
  • Despite all of the eye candy, everything is really snappy. Even running in a VM. Maybe this is due to this being a clean VM, but it does feel a lot faster just clicking around than Windows 10.
  • The start menu. It really needs to be more customizable. Let me have only pins and remove the “Recommended” section.
  • Shadows! There are shadows everywhere and they are huge. This is a correct lesson learned from macOS, though macOS will shrink the shadow of an inactive window which Windows 11 does not (but should).
  • There’s a lot of shit random apps bundled with Windows by default. Ugh.

Windows 11 looks to be huge but it’s still an early preview. I don’t recommend anyone use it until it actually launches later this year. I assume lots of my complaints will be addressed in the coming months but it does seem like a promising start.

Sadly, my gaming PC won’t be able to run it because the processor is “too old”. Bullshit. I don’t want to upgrade that PC just yet (and can’t really thanks to the chip shortage) so I’m hoping Microsoft reverses course on that weird restriction.