Recently Microsoft officially announced a successor to Windows 10. Those able to do arithmetic may be able to predict it would be Windows 11.
This double-backs on a “promise” of sorts that Windows 10 would be the final Windows release. At the same time, it doesn’t, because Windows 11 seems like they just gave a rather large feature update for Windows 10 a new name. It is of course a little weird they would violate their promise, particularly since they were so vehement about how it would be the last version, even in the face of “yeah sure it is” from a lot of pundits.
I’ve given the leaked build a whirl and I haven’t seen anything exciting. Most of the changes are arbitrary design changes, to really give the idea it’s a “new OS”. A few seemingly minor things concern me, though.
Centered Start Button
By default, the taskbar buttons and the start button are centered. I think the reasoning is that more and more people are using very large, or ultrawide monitors. Using the Start Menu on those systems can be odd because it shows up in the cornern of the screen. Having it centered makes it more immediately visible. And, since the start menu location should match the start button location, the start button is centered too. Though, With a full taskbar, it gets pushed out to the left anyway, too. Additionally, the reason it was in the corner was for the purpose of UX in terms of mouse users, since it allows the mouse interaction to skip the second step of Fitt’s Law. Fitt’s Lasw is basically that clicking an item is a function of the distance from the current mouse position and the size of the target, and movement is done in two steps: first a large, imprecise movement, then a small, precise movement to home in on the target. With Windows XP’s Visual Styles, Fitt’s Law was considered and the Start Button extended to the edges of the screen to allow the second step to be unneeded, since you could slam the mouse into the corner. It does still allow you to choose to have it in the corner, too.
No Taskbar Button Labels. Small icons option hidden
This is a big deal for me because I’ve never been particularly fond of the “new style” of Taskbar introduced with Windows 7; where all the taskbar buttons have large icons and no labels. I’ve always set it to small icons and show labels; Even with a lot of programs open, you still get at least 4 or 5 letters on each button, which helps identify specific items better. This is particularly the case with Wide-screen monitors and ultra-wide monitors, the very same that give some justification for the centered start button itself. Show labels is nowhere to be found; Small Icons is apparently still possible, but you need to hack the registry (possibly, show labels is also possible this way, but not having the option actually presented bothers me).
You must have the taskbar along the bottom
This is a particularly unusual change, since the Taskbar has had the capability to be docked to any side of the screen since it was introduced in Windows 95. It’s rather rare for a new Windows release to remove such long-standing features. I imagine they can justify thing by claiming their telemetry shows most users use it along the bottom so it’s not worth the extra effort of making sure everything functions with the other configurations for what is a minority of users, but it understandably has upset a lot of people.
It’s not really that different
Aside from removing and deprecating the features listed above I’ve not really seen anything that actually *justifies* upgrading to it. It just sort of insists upon itself. We got some vague “it’s better” claims, like my personal favourite which says Windows Updates will work in the background. But… they already work in the background, so I’m not sure what that means. The only real thing they’ve got to say “upgrade” is holding the 2025 end date for Windows 10 over people’s heads, I think.
Another big thing that people have been talking about is the System requirements. It’s a rather curious case. Steve Dispensa, A Microsoft Vice President, stated on twitter “Yeah, Windows 11 is only supported on the CPU list I posted above. There are more requirements than just TPM 2.0 support (and all supported chipsets should have TPM 2.0, so that’s not generally a blocking requirement).” The list they mention is the Customer Design requirements for hardware vendors, which makes it all the more confusing. There is nothing therein that suggests the list means anything different for Windows 11 versus Windows 10, and Windows 10 list of “supported CPUs” doesn’t list any CPU prior to Gen 5. In fact, neither do any of the other Windows versions listed there, in fact. It seems like it doesn’t actually reflect the CPUs that will be able to upgrade to Windows 11, and this has been a serious communication blunder by Microsoft, and the fact that their alleged upgrade tool doesn’t actually work very well hardly helps either. I’m sure we will find out more information as time progresses.
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