Windows 11, the latest iteration of the Windows operating system, has been making waves in the tech world. While it shares many similarities with its predecessor, Windows 10, Windows 11 brings a host of new features and improvements. In this article, we’ll explore the key differences between the two versions and help you decide whether it’s worth upgrading to Windows 11.
What’s New in Windows 11?
At first glance, Windows 11 may appear to be just a reskinned version of Windows 10. However, beneath its familiar exterior, Windows 11 introduces a range of notable enhancements. These include a revamped Start menu and Taskbar, as well as support for Android apps on Windows 11.
Better Design and Features
Windows 11 brings significant visual changes to Microsoft’s operating system. The Taskbar and Start menu are now centered on the screen, giving Windows 11 a resemblance to macOS and ChromeOS. However, if you prefer the familiar left-aligned Taskbar, you can still move it back.
In terms of design, Windows 11 introduces rounded corners on windows, new app icons, and exclusive Fluent Emojis. Notably, the promised 3D emojis are yet to make an appearance. Additionally, Windows 11 includes smaller features like live captions for browsers and a customizable Focus mode for managing notifications.
One area that Microsoft has focused on is File Explorer. The latest update introduced tabs, and a more significant redesign of File Explorer is expected in 2023. This redesign will integrate Microsoft services and OneDrive, and incorporate a new details menu when selecting files or folders.
Start Menu and Taskbar
The Start menu and Taskbar receive notable changes in Windows 11. The Start menu now features a simplified layout, displaying a static list of apps and frequently accessed documents. The removal of Live Tiles gives the Start menu a cleaner appearance.
As for the Taskbar, Microsoft has transformed the search box into an icon and removed Cortana functions. In their place, you’ll find a dedicated Microsoft Teams icon integrated into the Taskbar. If you don’t use Teams, you can easily remove the icon. Another change is the relocation of the weather widget to the left side, replaced by Widgets that provide news, sports scores, and more.
Windows 11 also introduces Virtual Desktops, which allow you to create separate workspaces for various tasks such as work and gaming.
Android Apps Integration
Windows 11’s app store includes support for Android apps via the Amazon Appstore. While not all Android apps are compatible, you can find a select number that can be installed on Windows 11. Check our guide on how to install Android apps on Windows 11 for more details. Windows 11 also expands app compatibility beyond the Universal Windows Platform (UWP) found in Windows 10, now including Win32 apps like Firefox and the Epic Games Store.
Improved Gaming Features
Windows 11 is a boon for gamers, offering various optimizations and features. Its recent updates include enhancements for running games in windowed mode, along with support for Auto HDR and DirectStorage, which significantly reduces game loading times.
While some of these features are available on Windows 10, Microsoft has made it clear that gaming is a focal point for Windows 11. With ongoing performance improvements and bug fixes, Windows 11 is becoming the preferred platform for PC gamers.
Snap Layouts and Multitasking
Windows 11 introduces exclusive multitasking improvements that are not available in Windows 10. The new Snap Layouts feature allows you to group windows and save them to the taskbar, making multitasking more efficient. With Windows 11, you can enjoy easier access to Snap Layouts and more configuration options compared to Windows 10’s implementation.
Windows 11 also addresses a long-standing issue with multi-monitor setups. Now, when you disconnect and reconnect an external monitor, Windows 11 remembers the window configurations on your secondary monitor, ensuring a seamless experience.
Enhanced Tablet Mode
Windows 11 brings a more touch-friendly experience when using your device in tablet mode. Unlike Windows 10’s traditional tablet mode, Windows 11 emulates an iPad-like interface, providing easy touch access to actions like opening the Start menu and dismissing windows. The update also enhances pen functionality, allowing you to easily access up to four app shortcuts using your pen.
Voice navigation has also improved significantly in Windows 11, empowering users to control the operating system entirely through voice commands.
Windows 11 boasts several performance improvements over its predecessor. Microsoft has optimized memory management in Windows 11 to prioritize active app windows, ensuring they receive more CPU resources when running in the foreground. Additionally, Windows 11 suspends certain data in RAM while the PC sleeps, resulting in faster wake-up times compared to Windows 10.
Since its launch, Microsoft has released updates to further enhance performance. For example, a February update boosted solid-state drive (SSD) speeds. While Windows 11 may feel snappier on less powerful laptops, the performance gap with Windows 10 is minimal in real-world usage.
Collaboration and Remote Work
Both Windows 11 and Windows 10 can be used for remote work, but Windows 11 provides superior collaborative features. Windows 11 supports background blur, eye contact adjustments, and automatic framing during meetings, empowering users with more engaging video conferencing experiences. These AI-powered features are available through Microsoft Teams, although compatibility may vary based on your hardware.
Should You Upgrade to Windows 11?
Upgrading to Windows 11 is a tempting proposition for many users. As the latest Windows version, it offers a range of new features, performance enhancements, and design changes. However, there are some factors to consider. Let’s dive into whether upgrading to Windows 11 is the right choice for you.
Upgrading to Windows 11
Upgrading from Windows 10 to Windows 11 is a straightforward process. Most PCs can upgrade for free via a Windows update. We strongly recommend following this official upgrade path to avoid potential risks associated with unofficial installers found online. Microsoft has completed the Windows 11 rollout, meaning any PC with supported hardware can upgrade for free. Keep in mind that you have ten days to downgrade to Windows 10 after updating; otherwise, a clean install will be required.
While Windows 11 introduces numerous new features, Microsoft also removed certain features that were available in Windows 10. Notably, the ability to sync desktop wallpapers, along with the removal of Internet Explorer, the Math Input panel, and a few apps like 3D Viewer, OneNote for Windows 10, Paint 3D, and Skype. Nevertheless, these apps can still be found in the store.
System Requirements and Compatibility
Windows 11 has specific system requirements that must be met for a successful upgrade. Your computer will need a recent processor from Intel 8th-generation or AMD Ryzen 2000 (or newer), along with TPM 2.0 support. TPM is a hardware security processor found in modern PCs, and most desktops and laptops already have it. However, if you built your own PC, it’s recommended to check whether your motherboard supports TPM. Custom PCs running Windows 10 do not have this restriction.
While it’s possible to install Windows 11 on unsupported hardware, we do not recommend doing so. Microsoft may stop supporting systems that aren’t certified for Windows 11, potentially leaving them without critical security updates. If your computer is more than four years old, it’s likely not compatible with Windows 11, which might influence your decision to upgrade.
Support and Update Cycle
Windows 11 departed from the semi-annual update cadence of Windows 10 and now follows a single annual update schedule, similar to macOS. Microsoft plans to support Windows 10 until 2025, with the operating system receiving once-a-year updates. Windows 11 receives both major annual updates and smaller feature rollouts throughout the year.
The recent Windows 11 2022 Update showcases the pace of these annual updates. It includes a myriad of improvements, ranging from minor user interface tweaks to the addition of new apps like Clipchamp. Windows 11’s accessibility features are also noteworthy, and some important Windows 10 features have finally made their way to Windows 11.
Although Microsoft will support Windows 10 until October 14, 2025, it stopped selling new licenses for it in 2023. If you already have Windows 10, you will continue to receive support for the next couple of years. However, if you’re upgrading from an older version of Windows, you will need to jump straight to Windows 11.
Bugs and Reliability
Windows 11 has encountered some bugs since its release, whereas the more mature Windows 10 is generally considered more stable. However, Microsoft has been diligent in addressing issues and releasing bug fixes for Windows 11. Notable past bugs include a problem causing thousands of empty folders in File Explorer and one that significantly impacted SSD speeds. Microsoft has resolved these issues, and Windows 11 is continually improving in terms of stability.
One ongoing concern is a memory leak bug that affects Windows 11, particularly when opening multiple instances of File Explorer. In some cases, Windows 11 fails to release the allocated RAM, leading to excessive resource consumption. While not everyone experiences this issue, it’s worth noting.
If you want to stay updated on Windows 11 bugs, you can report them through the Feedback Hub app. Microsoft encourages users to provide feedback on Windows 11-related issues for better tracking and resolution.
Is Windows 11 Worth It?
For most users, upgrading to Windows 11 is a worthwhile decision. It offers an array of new features, performance improvements, and design changes that enhance the overall user experience. Furthermore, as Microsoft’s latest operating system, Windows 11 receives more attention and ongoing development compared to Windows 10.
Upgrading to Windows 11 comes with minimal risk. With proper planning, you can easily revert to Windows 10 if needed. Moreover, with the latest Windows 11 update, there’s never been a better time to give it a try.
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