Introduction

Windows 11, the OS we never thought there would be, or did we?  Summer, 2015, the release of Windows 10, and Microsoft decreed: “Windows 10, the last version of Windows.”  The entire quote goes:

“Right now we’re releasing Windows 10, and because Windows 10 is the last version of Windows, we’re all still working on Windows 10.”

Constant Windows 10 Updates, and Windows as a service, are the future, Microsoft said.  Fast forward to June 24th, 2021:

“Introducing you to Windows 11.  The Windows that brings you closer to the things you love.”

This is one of those memes, right? Microsoft: Windows 10 is the last version of Windows. Everyone: They’re really going to do it? Windows: Hold my beer!

Jokes aside, Microsoft has announced Windows 11 as of June 24th, 2021.  But is it really all that different from Windows 10? Let’s recap what was said in the event stream announcement and provide our own opinions on the matter and what really might matter for gamers. You can watch the entire event stream here, all of our information and screenshots are solely based on this video. This is mostly just a re-cap, very directly put, with our opinions on the conclusion page. Also, here are the hardware requirements for running Windows 11. 

Windows 11 is Introduced

The event started off with a Truman Show‘esque quote: “Good Morning, Good Evening, Good Afternoon” the Truman show quote goes: “Good morning, and in case I don’t see ya, good afternoon, good evening, and good night!”

We are instantly reminded that Windows has been part of life for 35 years.  Windows feels like home, Microsoft says.  It was clear from the beginning of the stream that the theme is that Windows is familiar to all of us and has been for a long time, and it just feels like home.  It feels familiar, secure, open, connected. Therefore, a new version should feel just like being home. 

Windows has become, even more, the office banter place, and for others where you do your “happy hours.” It has become your school, where you celebrate your holidays due to the pandemic and so forth.  The PC has become more lately, it must become even more personally.  It must “feel emotional.”  This is what inspired MS to build the Windows of tomorrow.  A space to create, learn, play, produce and connect.

We are then introduced to Windows 11.  The Windows that brings you closer to the things you love. Now with rounded corners! The UI is shown, and boy is it soft, rounded, and glassy. Key points emphasized with this new version of Windows are pinpointed below.

  • Create. Connect. Play.
  • All New Themes
  • Stay Productive
  • Snap your apps
  • Pickup up where you left off
  • Connect with one touch
  • Personalized feed with widgets
  • Automatically adapts
  • Input the way you want Voice, Click or Write
  • Sort and switch between your tasks
  • Unrivaled gaming experience
  • DirectX 12 Ultimate
  • Auto HDR
  • XBOX Game Pass
  • All New Microsoft Store
  • Designed for any device
  • All your favorite brands
  • Welcome Home
  • Windows 11

UI Refresh

A big part of Windows 11 is the UI (User Interface) refresh. Windows 11 is modern, fresh, clean, and beautiful, Microsoft says.  The start button is now at the center, putting you at the center.  It is cloud-powered to serve you the apps and docs that you need.  The way the light looks across the icons, the colors, the textures of how Windows looks.  The transitions are beautiful.  There is elegance, and themes like light mode and dark mode.  Rounded corners with softer visuals on apps as well.  It’s all meant to bring you an incredible sense of calm, Microsoft says.

Internal Performance Improvements

It’s also beautiful on the inside.  It’s faster.  Waking from sleep is faster, Windows Hello is faster, browsing on edge is faster, browsing on any browser is faster, Windows Updates are 40% smaller, and they are more efficient as they happen in the background.  The product uses less energy, which uses less battery life.  It’s the most secure Windows yet.

Improved Experiences

It’s faster and simpler to get started and back to what you are doing.  Center layout is optimized to find what you need quickly.  Use the search bar to find things anywhere.  Use the recommended section to jump right back to editing.  Start uses the cloud and the power of M365, so you can see your recent files no matter what platform you are using. 

It is easier to get started with multi-tasking experiences.  More powerful snap feature, called Snap Layouts.  Clicking the maximize button will provide options tailored to the size of your screen to organize multiple Windows. 

When you return to what you were doing you don’t have to remember where you were.  With Snap Groups it’s a collection of apps you were using, sitting in the task bar.  Windows remembers and keeps them.  Now you can switch between apps or entire projects in the task bar.

Windows will now arrange better when docking or undocking.  When you re-connect your dock, the windows will now organize themselves back to where they were so you don’t have to re-arrange them again.

It is easier to know where you are in Windows.  With multiple tabs, it can be easy to get lost, with one click you can switch to vertical tabs.  It makes it easy to find exactly what you are looking for.  Desktops have been designed to stay organized and focus.  Each desktop can show a different set of apps.  With Windows 11 you can now personalize them with different wallpapers so you can personalize them and organize them differently for your life.

Connecting People

Another critical part of Windows, connecting to people is at the top of the list.  Microsoft Teams will now be integrated directly into Windows.  You can connect with one touch.  The icon is front and center on the taskbar so you can chat and video call with anyone on any platform or device, it doesn’t matter.  Whether you are on Windows, or iOS, or Android, from your PC, tablet, or phone.

Better Experience without Keyboards

Windows experience has been redesigned if you don’t have a keyboard.  It adapts to you, refined the way it interacts.  Created new experiences for productivity, content, and entertainment.  Windows 11 always feels like windows, even with the keyboard detached on 2n1’s.  It’s the same taskbar, but with more space between the icons.  It has added bigger touch targets, and subtle visual cues to move windows easier.  Still has snap, and works with rotation to stack windows.  Also added gestures, the same ones you use on the trackpad so you don’t have to learn new ones. 

With Windows 11 they have enabled haptics to make pens more usable on tablets.  Of you can use the new touch keyboard, and you can change themes.  You can swipe, use the space bar as a cursor, and has emojis and GIFs.  It also has voice typing.  Windows 11 can recognize what you say and automatically punctuate.    And there are voice commands. 

Widgets

Windows Widgets is a personalized feed powered by AI, serving you content. Widgets keep you up to date with stuff that matters to you, without losing your place.  You can also make it full screen, and re-arrange and re-size your widgets.  The news feed adapts to you.  Can also support content creators by giving a tip.

Microsoft Store

The Microsoft Store has been re-designed, the entertainment tab has been redesigned to show movies and tv shows from across streaming services into one place.  You can project to your TV with wireless connect.

Rebuilt Microsoft Store from the ground up with speed in mind.  Easier to use and most secure way to get your apps on Windows.  Microsoft will allow developers to use the Microsoft commerce engine, or developers can use their own commerce engine and they retain 100% of the revenue from their own commerce system.

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Brent Justice

Brent Justice has been reviewing computer components for 20+ years, educated in the art and method of the computer hardware review he brings experience, knowledge, and hands-on testing with a gamer oriented...

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34 Comments

  1. Thanks for the writeup Brent!

    And I wish I didn’t feel so cynical about ’11’, but it comes off with a really Windows 8 feel. UI changes for the sake of UI changes, features that have been tied to a new version “because”, it makes one wonder if Microsoft isn’t just iterating the version for PR.

    This announcement seems fairly squarely targeted at the Mac and Mac-curious crowd 🙂

  2. Let’s see if MS can break the “Good, Bad” cycle. Cause technically, 11 should be the “bad” OS 😮

    Maybe they can break that cycle though.

  3. MS has always been a company that keeps me inspired. They push innovation sometimes whether or not it’s needed.

    Events like this make me remember to fulfill your dreams, with that said, I’m invigorated and will finally complete my novel, “How to be a stripper”

    It’s a children’s pop up book….

  4. Love the window memory feature with multiple monitors. That will be a pleasure to use if it works right.

  5. [QUOTE] It’s also beautiful on the inside. It’s faster. Waking from sleep is faster, Windows Hello is faster, browsing on edge is faster, browsing on any browser is faster, Windows Updates are 40% smaller, and they are more efficient as they happen in the background. The product uses less energy, which uses less battery life. It’s the most secure Windows yet. [/QUOTE]

    Allegedly… 😉 😉

    Looks to me like a return to windows vista with looks over function.

  6. BTW I’m stunned at how little coverage it has got. Anand doesn’t even have an article yet when they usually do live coverage.

  7. [QUOTE=”Stoly, post: 36630, member: 1474″]
    BTW I’m stunned at how little coverage it has got. Anand doesn’t even have an article yet when they usually do live coverage.
    [/QUOTE]

    Anandtech these days is not what it was in the past, they are usually pretty late on coverage for everything, very slow at GPU reviews, never do launches. /shrug

    And I can say this knowing that Anand is not there anymore, when he was at the helm it was at its best.

    As for Windows 11 coverage, there’s just not much to report I guess. Only what the event stream said, and what’s on their website. Then there is the leaked version, but it’s probably a very early build. The release version will be more complete. Plus, there aren’t a lot of “game changing” features, so to speak. All the things Windows 11 does, Windows 10 can do. Except for maybe Direct Storage, I don’t know if that is coming to WIndows 10 or not, same with Auto HDR. But DirectX 12 Ultimate of course is supported on both, and WIndows 10 may get patched to update schedulers for upcoming CPUs.

  8. [QUOTE=”Brent_Justice, post: 36631, member: 3″]
    Anandtech these days is not what it was in the past, they are usually pretty late on coverage for everything, very slow at GPU reviews, never do launches. /shrug

    And I can say this knowing that Anand is not there anymore, when he was at the helm it was at its best.

    As for Windows 11 coverage, there’s just not much to report I guess. Only what the event stream said, and what’s on their website. Then there is the leaked version, but it’s probably a very early build. The release version will be more complete. Plus, there aren’t a lot of “game changing” features, so to speak. All the things Windows 11 does, Windows 10 can do. Except for maybe Direct Storage, I don’t know if that is coming to WIndows 10 or not, same with Auto HDR. But DirectX 12 Ultimate of course is supported on both, and WIndows 10 may get patched to update schedulers for upcoming CPUs.
    [/QUOTE]
    Yup, Anand is now mostly mac and mobile stuff. with the occasional server articles. They pretty much left the PC gaming space.

  9. [QUOTE=”Stoly, post: 36630, member: 1474″]
    BTW I’m stunned at how little coverage it has got. Anand doesn’t even have an article yet when they usually do live coverage.
    [/QUOTE]

    I agree with Brent:
    Yeah Anandtech is very nearly a zombie site these days.

    And this announcement was … not really that much. It doesn’t really include anything under the hood. I would expect ReFS or something similar to come to the consumer space. No mention about kernel improvements (although some rumor about better big/LITTLE use). Better use of sandboxing/virtualiztion would have been a nice security feature as well – I know it’s been around for a while, but the average Joe has no idea what that is, and if they could have brought that main stream it could have done a lot for them. No mention of UWP, if the Store will still require that, or if UWP is undergoing any changes.

    I have a feeling this is a bigger push to leverage Microsoft Store more (*sigh*) and with all the UI changes, finally kill the old MSC/Snap-in stuff and finally bury all the old Windows XP style control panels and dialogs they have slowly been replacing over Win10’s lifecycle.

    It really doesn’t look like much more than just a reskin or fancy theme, from what they announced. Teams integration with OS is likely to trigger more anti-trust lawsuits (actually it already has from Salesforce / slack). Running Android on the desktop .. could already be done via third party, so that may trigger other blowback, and depending on how they do it, security concerns. And they are pulling over a couple of Xbox tricks that are low-hanging fruit.

    There really isn’t anything there.

  10. Wasn’t Anandtech and Tom’s Hardware bought out by the same company? That would put 2 competing sites under the same umbrella. It explains why Anandtech has gone the way it has, and that Tom’s Hardware is doing the majority of the hardware reviews.

  11. Thanks, [USER=3]@Brent_Justice[/USER] for the write up/recap/summary.

    I remember the widgets/gadgets from Vista too. I also remember how Windows pulled claiming they added security exploits. I was bummed because I really liked having them.

    Yeah, I’m always a bit skeptical with new releases anymore. It seemed like a ridiculously short span between 7>8>8.1>10 to me and then the first couple of years of updates for 10 had some rocky patches as well and how it seemed like the customers became QA for each one for a while. I still cringe a little when a build update comes out. I usually upgrade OS’s just to get the latest APIs. Been doing that since DX10. My biggest complaint is how sometimes things got moved around under the hood. Could always Cortana search it or find my way back to the trusty control panel but was always annoyed when things moved. We’ll see how this one rolls out one way or another.

  12. [QUOTE=”Brian_B, post: 36639, member: 96″]
    I would expect ReFS or something similar to come to the consumer space.
    [/QUOTE]
    Man I tried Storage Spaces to use ReFS [I]once[/I].

    ReFS comes across as ‘ZFS for Windows’, but that was really only interesting until ZFS on Linux hit full stride. On another note, BTRFS on Windows actually works, but man is that a slow filesystem.

    I think people are about as interested in ReFS as they are in Windows Server, and that includes Microsoft, unfortunately.

  13. If anyone asks, all you have to do to fix the TPM missing/disabled problem in regards to Windows 11 capability, all you have to do is enable it in the BIOS. It is usually disabled in the BIOS by default. BTW, on DIY systems TPM 1.2 and up is supported, it is only OEMs that TPM 2.0 is required. But yeah, just go into the BIOS, enable Secure Boot and Windows 11 should show compatibility, and work.

  14. I’ve been running Windows 11 for about a week now .. it boots faster, feels snappier. Playing Hunt:Showdown seems to be about the same as in Windows 10

    My only gripe with the “leaked” iso alpha version of Win11 is I can’t get the taskbar to work on my secondary monitor … other than that … I like it!

  15. [QUOTE=”Brent_Justice, post: 36739, member: 3″]
    If anyone asks, all you have to do to fix the TPM missing/disabled problem in regards to Windows 11 capability, all you have to do is enable it in the BIOS. It is usually disabled in the BIOS by default. BTW, on DIY systems TPM 1.2 and up is supported, it is only OEMs that TPM 2.0 is required. But yeah, just go into the BIOS, enable Secure Boot and Windows 11 should show compatibility, and work.
    [/QUOTE]
    I know I’ve picked up a few TPM modules for boards in the past- usually they went for ~US$20, so not that big of a deal.

    Do you know if they’re coming built in more often, or if we’ll still need to pick them up separately?

  16. I don’t know, but it’s a question I’ll be asking for every motherboard that comes in for review now, and we’ll have the answer in the review for said motherboard whether it has a TPM module or not.

  17. There is no reason why Windows 11 could not run on any PC that currently runs Windows 10, like this Jan 2009 build I’m using at the moment, but for the artificial hurdles Microsoft puts in the way. However, I did use Rufus to install Windows 11 on a fast 256GB USB stick and then booted it up on my PC with an i7-5960X Haswell-E (4th gen Intel.) Rufus can take .esd/.wim install files so it was easy to avoid the TPM/CPU compatibility check. The CPU has no firmware PTT and mobo has no TPM 2.0 module, although there is a 20-pin header for one. Apparently supermicro TPM 2.0 modules work on the Asus Rampage V Extreme. In any case it’s all artificial blocks imposed by MS.

  18. So if you have a modern CPU, you should have fTPM anyway, just make sure to enable it in your BIOS, cause typically it is disabled or set to discrete TPM by default. All you have to do is set it to firmware TPM.

  19. Man, the more I read about Win11, the more I think I’ll just stick with Win10

    I hate Teams, and it’s “integration” just seems like a giant red flag. Side note: Why did MS dump Skype anyway?

    Now it sounds like they are back to trying to enforce Edge over third party browsers. They are already sorta kinda doing this on Win10: you can set a default third party browser, but anything from MS that uses a web page will still use Edge regardless of your preference. Sounds like Win11 is going an extra step and making it more difficult to chose a third party default browser.

    The hardware requirements — yeah I have some older PCs still kicking around that wouldn’t measure up. But honestly, not too concerned, other than it makes me wonder how I’ll run this in a VM.

    Really, there isn’t anything in Win11 that compels me to want it, apart from the fact that the UI is new (don’t know if that’s better or worse at this point, just different). DirectStorage and a new open Microsoft Store aren’t terribly exciting….

  20. I updated my insider program and got my Encryption stuff turned on on my motherboard and my computer is rebooting right now installing windows 11. This install is NOT swift. Even on an NVME drive.

  21. So my install finished first login under way… it took a while… note sure I dig the new layout… everything is in the center of the screen…

  22. layout fixed, system tray icons fixed.. dislike not having a setting for just show all icons. And the windows defender stuff was turned off by default. Turned that on and had to reboot again.

    On reboot offered me a windows rollback option or to boot to windows 10, chose 10 and it booted to 11. I’m sure that will generate some tickets for them.

  23. You piqued my interest, tossing it into a VM for now. At least I think, since you have to start by installing 10.

  24. Yep I’m running on windows 11 now too. Really other than moving the start menu back to the left it’s pretty much the same.

  25. The link for anyone else interested, I’m running it in a VirtualBox VM: [URL]https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windowsinsiderpreviewiso[/URL]

  26. [MEDIA=youtube]8FKtTg5VRSU[/MEDIA]
    If that commercial doesn’t get you throwing money at Microsoft, I don’t know what will.

  27. [QUOTE=”Grimlakin, post: 38807, member: 215″]
    I upgraded my main gaming box. Works fine so far.
    [/QUOTE]
    Which build did you install? Tempted to download a build and upgrade my machine.

  28. [QUOTE=”Space_Ranger, post: 41131, member: 52″]
    Which build did you install? Tempted to download a build and upgrade my machine.
    [/QUOTE]

    I am on 21H2 OS Build 22000.184

  29. Did the in-place upgrade to Release Candidate over the weekend – apart from the start menu looking a bit different (which I never used on Win10 anyway) and the corners of the Windows being rounded, I’d be really hard pressed to tell you exactly what the difference is once I moved the Start back over to the left and undid some of the default crap on the taskbar. Really doesn’t seem that much different than any of the dozen other times they’ve overhauled random settings and control panels in Win10 over it’s lifespan.

    Anyone figure out Widgets yet? It seems they are mostly useless, since they only seem to appear when you open the Widget window, rather than living on your desktop.

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