Windows 11 Operating System: A New Era Has Arrived
Thanks to its fresh new look and meaningful upgrades, Windows 11 is suitable for most workflows and lifestyles. Windows 11 has been surrounded by controversy. Strict hardware compatibility and early post-upgrade issues were just two things people encountered when trying out the latest version of Windows for free or installing it on new machines with a retail version of the operating system.
But what is it actually like to use Windows 11 as your daily driver? Does it live up to the controversy? What are the biggest differences when comparing Windows 11 to Windows 10? And how does it feel to leave behind the familiar Windows 10 and embrace the radically different appearance of Windows 11?
It's time to take a closer look at the state of Windows 11. With its fresh new look and meaningful upgrades, I can't help but appreciate how the operating system adapts to my workflow and lifestyle.
Windows 11 feels like the beginning of a new era, one that most people will likely come to appreciate more and more over the years, with many promises of improvement as it evolves with annual updates like the upcoming 22H2.
Welcome Design Changes
The biggest change in Windows 11 lies in its appearance and feel. The flat square edges are gone, replaced by rounded corners and beautiful glass-like effects that Microsoft claims are meant to give you a sense of "calm and ease." Whether or not that holds true, the new accents and softer edges feel like the change Windows needed, although some may have reservations about the new look.
The most noticeable change is in the Start menu. Marking a departure from Windows 10, the Start menu is now centered, rounded, and positioned in the middle of the screen by default. Yes, it no longer features the dynamic live tiles of the Windows 8 era that often displayed app notifications at a glance. Those are gone.
With this move, Microsoft is letting go of the past Windows, and I'm glad for it. In Windows 11, Microsoft takes a simpler approach to the Start menu, making it feel fresh, just like when they introduced the concept in Windows 95.
All your pinned apps, recent files, and the search box are right up front. You can even see your most important files, regardless of which device you install Windows on, as the file list is backed by Microsoft's cloud. It feels like a natural fit with Windows, akin to tapping on app icons on your phone.
Microsoft is taking a simpler approach to the fresh-feeling Start menu.
This design carries over to the taskbar as well. Its icons are now centered and match those of macOS and Chrome OS. This change feels natural, as my eyes tend to gravitate towards the center of the screen when looking for apps.
This is where the controversy comes into play. Microsoft claims that this change should bring you closer to the things you love on your PC. But if you don't like it and are too accustomed to Windows 10, you can still move the taskbar back or use third-party programs like Start11 to make Windows 11 look like Windows 10. The program also adds many Windows 10-like features to Windows 11, including a tiled interface on the Start menu.
In another controversial move, although these new design changes may be fancy, they come with a small sacrifice—bugs. Windows 11 had its fair share of minor issues in the early days. Those who upgraded to the new operating system faced problems running basic applications, file explorer glitches, and even issues with AMD Ryzen processors. If these concerns worry you, keep a close eye on Microsoft's known issues page. The company usually releases fixes promptly and is always working to improve Windows.
But back to the design, even the animations in Windows 11 have changed. When you log into Windows 11, your taskbar icons float up from the bottom. Opening and minimizing apps make the icons bounce. Moving around open windows brings up a glass-like pane. Even right-clicking to summon the context menu brings a clean menu that flows with your wallpaper. Everything feels smoother than ever with the right hardware.
For those who prefer a darker environment, dark mode is more consistent. It dims all the right places, especially in File Explorer. After five years of Windows 10, Windows 11 feels so clean. It's something I haven't seen in Windows since the days of Windows 7.
Even with these big changes, Microsoft isn't done with the Start menu. Just as Windows 10 has been evolving, Windows 11 will receive annual updates. Features that were missing in Windows 10, such as the ability to add folders to the Start menu, view more pinned apps, and get shortcuts to the sign-in options page, will soon be available.