By Ben Price
Check out the Big Differences Between Windows 10 and 11 for even more Windows 11 updates!
Released to the public on October 5th, Microsoft Windows 11 has now officially been out for just over a week. After having spent some time hands-on with the new operating system, I’ve got more than a few first impressions. I’ll be diving into everything from Windows 11’s new features, the biggest changes made, and quality of life improvements in order to decide whether or not Windows 11 is a worthy upgrade over Windows 10. If you’re someone who’s on the fence about Windows 11, then continue reading.
While Windows 11 doesn’t make any drastic changes to the Windows operating system, there are many smaller changes made here and there that can make a world of a difference. Mostly aesthetic, Windows 11 is an improvement overall. Let’s dive into the various changes and improvements made.
Right off the bat, the first thing that users will notice upon updating to Windows 11 is its brand-new look. Opting for a cleaner, more modern look, Windows 11 almost feels reminiscent of Apple’s OS. Compared to Windows 8, which changed things majorly and left many PC users confused with its overhauls to classic Windows OS, Windows 11 is a lot more subtle in its changes. These changes made in Windows 11 are small, but go a long way in improving the OS’s overall design and look.
Windows 11 doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel like Windows 8 before it, but instead focuses on refinement of things that already work very well. Another big change made with the update is the overall user interface: The Windows Start button and apps have been shifted from the left side of the screen to the center. And while this took a bit of getting used to, I honestly prefer this alignment better than that of Windows 10.
The Windows Start button looks especially different; Microsoft has done away with the Android-like color box design used in the Windows 8 and 10 Start Menu, and replaced it with a far more basic-looking menu. And while it isn’t as flashy or feature-filled, it doesn’t need to be. Windows 11, in many ways, sacrifices flashiness for functionality.
Another change made in Microsoft’s new OS is the addition of Widgets to the home screen taskbar. For those who don’t know what they are, Widgets provide easily accessible information to users. Information like weather, sports, upcoming events (via a Calendar), and the latest news are all common Widgets.
Previously appearing when opening the Windows Start button, Widgets have now been designated to their own separate icon. This change is greatly appreciated as it not only helps to remove clutter from the Start Button, but also allows for all of your PC’s widgets to reside in one single, easily accessible place. This is nice for those who regularly use Widgets, and even better for Windows 10 users (such as myself) who never use them, and prefer to have a more organized home screen with less clutter.
Another change that I quickly noticed was the addition of Microsoft Teams to the main taskbar. For those not familiar, Teams is Microsoft’s version of Zoom or Facetime. Personally, I can’t stand Zoom and rarely use FaceTime so I found this to be a great addition. Microsoft Teams is nothing new, but Windows 11 simply does a better job of integrating the software into the UI.
On Microsoft’s website, the company states that one of the biggest upgrades made with Windows 11 is improved gaming performance. And while I didn’t have the ability to compare two different gaming setups (one with Windows 10 and the other with Windows 11), I was still able to run many of my go-to titles in the new OS, and noticed some improvements.
The biggest upgrade that I noticed in regards to games wasn’t necessarily to the gaming performance, but with loading times. Games appeared to boot up much faster, and the Xbox app appeared to be snappier and much more responsive.
Windows 11’s faster performance and better optimization doesn’t seem to be limited to just games; I was surprised to find that pretty much all of the applications ran slightly better on the Windows 11 OS. Everything from the Microsoft Office apps to Firefox ran slightly faster and smoother than on the previous OS.
There is one big catch, however; your experience is going to depend on your PC build, with Windows 11 optimized to work with more modern computers (and phases out many older setups). If your computer is particularly dated, then you will likely have a less than ideal experience as the new OS is much more demanding. Worst-case scenario, you may have to upgrade your computer before using Windows 11.
To be frank, I’ve really enjoyed using the newly redesigned Microsoft Store; I always found the older versions to be rather clunky, with a dated UI and an overall unappealing look. But the Windows 11 version of the store is hugely improved, from both a visual and functional standpoint. While I didn’t use it extensively, I saw massive improvement from just my very brief experience with it. The differences between the two versions are night and day, and yet another example of how Windows 11 has improved over the past OS.
While it may be a tiny change, another aspect of Windows 11 that I noticed immediately was the new sound effects. Iconic sound effects from plugging in and unplugging USB devices to even the boot-up sounds are different now, for better or for worse. And while the new sounds threw me off initially, they’re starting to grow on me.
In my time using Windows 11, I found the OS to be very pleasant to use. As previously stated, the new OS feels faster, smoother, and snappier to use compared to Windows 8 and 10. I felt very at home with Windows 11. Windows 11 creates an intuitive operating system that is easy to use. Everything feels very cohesive, and more simple, than ever before.
While I largely believe that Windows 11 is a big upgrade over Windows 10, this doesn’t change the fact that it will take time for many users to adjust to the said changes. While I love the new Start button and how much more simple it is, I still can’t help but forget where it is half of the time. Since Windows 10’s release, I’ve become accustomed to the Start button being on the right side with more features available upon clicking it and it has confused me.
This no doubt will be the case for many early Windows 11 adopters; even though Windows 11 offers an objectively cleaner and more intuitive UI, it will take time to adjust to. But I’m confident that users will eventually catch on to it, and prefer the OS over older ones.
If you already have a Windows 10 machine and are interested in upgrading to the new version, it’s completely free and takes mere minutes to do so. Users need to keep in mind their hardware, however, as not all systems will be able to run Windows 11 properly. Windows 11 is the most demanding OS yet, and old hardware might struggle.
The alternative is picking up a new computer with Windows 11 already installed and ready to go, like the Lenovo Legion 5. No hassle updating and no worries about running into compatibility issues – just turn it on and enjoy Windows 11!
All in all, Windows 11 feels like a worthy successor to Windows 10. While there aren’t a ton of major changes, there really didn’t need to be. All of the additions and changes in the new operating system help make it feel more accessible and polished and feels great to use.
More from the Micro Center Community:
Building or Upgrading a PC for Windows 11? We’ve got PC Build Guides as well as Windows 11 FAQs and articles on How to Choose Parts for you Custom PC Build, Product Reviews, and Part Comparisons. And if you can’t find what you’re looking for, don’t hesitate to post a new discussion and the Community will be happy to help!
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