The year 2021 was marked by several major announcements from Redmond. Microsoft kicked off its cloud PC offering over the summer, and then officially launched Windows 11 in October. Today we are interested in the new operating system of the American giant.
The announcement of a new Windows is always an event, especially when the last major version dates back to 2015. After the launch of Windows 10 presented by Microsoft as the last Windows, we did not expect to review the system under this shape. Still dominant on computers despite the presence of Apple and the emergence of Chromebooks under Chrome OS, the publisher had confided its desire to see Windows 10 as a service that would be continuously updated.
This change of course has been confirmed over the past six years. The operating system has undergone significant changes with the deployment of a major version every six months. The latest being the 21H2 update.
However, the computer giant created a surprise in June by unveiling Windows 11. The announcement was quickly accompanied by the publication of a preview including the new features brought by this version. Offered to members of the Insider program, it followed the leak of an ISO image of a beta version that we had been able to take in hand in order to present you the major new features of Windows 11. The final version, available since October 5, is also very close to the latter.
Without going back entirely on the many new features of the OS, we decided to make a new point after a few weeks of cohabitation with the final version.
The new Windows 11 interface. © Screenshot / L’Éclaireur Fnac
Windows 11: new features and regrettable changes
The most notable contribution is the graphic renewal desired by Microsoft. The firm wanted to inaugurate a “New generation of Windows” and this materializes in a major overhaul, starting with the Start menu and the taskbar. Clearer and divided into two parts, it offers you to find pinned applications and recommended elements (applications, documents, photos, etc.) which change according to use.
The most puzzling novelty concerns the taskbar, which now occupies a central position. It always groups together the icons and its presence in the center of the screen can upset the habits of Windows users. However, it remains possible to replace it on the left of the screen.
You can move the Windows 11 taskbar. © Screenshot / L’Éclaireur Fnac
These changes demonstrate Microsoft’s desire to simplify its OS, with the risk of upsetting many habits and making its use less practical. Presented as more customizable and geared towards productivity, Windows 11 makes more curious changes, such as the task manager which is no longer directly accessible by right-clicking in the taskbar. You must now right click on the Start menu. The context menu has been simplified. More graphic, readable and fluid, it offers very few options and requires you to go through a secondary menu (via the Show more options line or the keyboard shortcut SHIFT + F10) to find all the entries. An additional step that does not fully correspond to Microsoft’s promise of productivity.
Microsoft has simplified the context menu. © Screenshot / L’Éclaireur Fnac
More surprisingly, some handy functions like the ability to resize the taskbar or move it to one side of the screen have been removed. The Redmond firm has also made changes to the default applications: unlike Windows 10, which allowed you to change the default program with one click, Windows 11 requires you to define a default application for each file extension. Concretely, a user wishing to use Chrome or Firefox instead of Edge will have to choose his new browser on a case-by-case basis for the extensions .htm, .html, .pdf, .shtml, .svg, .webp, .xht, .xhtml or still HTPP and HTPPS. A decision that makes it easier to impose Edge, but which makes the competition cringe.
Its minimal configuration leaves many PCs in the dark
As such, Windows 11 falls quite far short of Microsoft’s promise to deliver a simpler and more personal experience. The system is less flexible than its predecessors and it shows up to the required configuration. A little more greedy than its predecessor in terms of specifications (1 GHz processor or more with at least two cores, 4 GB of RAM and 64 GB of storage, graphics card compatible with DirectX 12 (or later) with WDDM 2.0 driver) , Windows 11 mainly imposes new security elements. You must have a computer with “UEFI-compliant secure boot” and a TPM 2.0 chip or processor supporting this module.
These technologies have been on the market for a few years, but until now they were optional. Microsoft is therefore excluding older devices, and the firm’s specific requirements have confused the situation. Thus, some machines equipped with a still fast although aging processor are officially incompatible, while a more recent but much less efficient CPU will provide support for the OS. For now, there is still some vagueness around this compatibility and the new operating system can be installed on a computer that does not meet the specifications set by Microsoft.
The company even released ballast, indicating that a machine equipped with a TPM 1.2 mode can bypass the limitation. However, she assures that “The PC will no longer be supported and could no longer receive updates” when installing Windows 11.
If design is a matter of taste, it is clear that Windows 11 is decidedly more modern. Many integrated applications benefit from this renewal (Mail, Photos, Calculator, Clock) and prove to be more efficient, with increased responsiveness and new options or animations. We appreciate for example the changes made to the Snap function with the possibility of organizing its windows (up to four) from the zoom button. The Explorer has also been dusted off, even if we are far from the revolution hoped for by many users. The tab system is still not up to date and when you go beyond the framework of the graphic redesign, you quickly have the impression of finding Windows 10.
The Snap Layouts function optimizes the display of windows. © Screenshot / L’Éclaireur Fnac
This sensation appears quickly with use and sometimes gives the feeling that Redmond has not finished the work. The Store has been completely redesigned to meet Microsoft’s ambitions and is much more enjoyable, but it is not an exclusive. Its old OS, Windows 10, begins to have the right to what the company presents as one of the flagship new features of Windows 11. Regarding Android applications, they shine for the time being by their absence and are just starting to make a difference. place in the system. It will probably be necessary to wait until 2022 to discover the functionality.
Windows 10.5 is here
Windows 11 marks an important milestone for the Redmond firm. The latter wants to switch to a new era and this new OS provides the beginning of a response to the ambitions of the company led by Satya Nadella. In use, Windows 11 is a continuation of its predecessor, it is pleasant to use and efficient, even if some early errors may appear. There is no doubt that these will be fixed, but it is difficult to see in Windows 11 a new major version.
The Edge browser in Windows 11. © Screenshot / L’Éclaireur Fnac
But it is still a significant evolution of Windows 10, at least in terms of the interface, because the new features are ultimately few. We can expect the American giant to continue on this path by making further changes in the coming months. It also shakes up habits with a result – for the time being – mixed, but which may explain the decision to change the version number. As it stands, the OS is, however, more akin to a “Windows 10.5” full of good intentions, without having the stature to carry a new version number.
Should we upgrade to Windows 11?
Microsoft itself answered this question by opting for a very gradual deployment. At the end of the year 2021, nothing justifies switching to this young operating system which will receive fixes in the coming months. Note that its predecessor, Windows 10, will be supported until 2025.
However, it can be tempting to migrate in order to discover Windows 11 and its new features, provided you have a compatible machine. You will also have to make sure to save your data before launching and allow a little time to get started with this version. In addition, the update is free.