First Impressions of Windows 11

Windows 11 is currently in the early preview stage and features are far from complete; this deployment stage usually focuses on ensuring hardware and application compatibility. Most of my latest desktop computers still cannot run Windows 11 because they are not configured to turn on the 2.0 Trusted Platform Module (TPM) (a simple fix) or enable secure boot (a more complex fix).

However, I was able to successfully load the Windows 11 preview version onto my Dell OptiPlex 7070 Ultra modular desktop without any problems. If you decide to try Windows 11, I suggest you load it at night, because the upgrade will take several hours.

The following are my initial impressions:

User interface
The Windows 11 taskbar looks like an updated combination of the Windows 10 taskbar and macOS Dock, without animation. It moves the icons to the center of the taskbar instead of the left to justify them.

The index of open apps is similar in practice, but the results are quite different, closer to what you see on your smartphone: your most frequently used apps are presented in the form of an alphabet, not like earlier versions. It’s presented as a list like Windows. Compared with the previous situation, this change allows me to find specific applications faster.

Switching to the full application list is quick and easy, but compared to our previous default application list, this is an extra step. Like the default application list, the overall effect is closer to the effect we use on smartphones. Once you get used to this new layout, it does feel more efficient.

When you click on the Windows icon, the settings will not pop up immediately.The icon is still on the left, but is now centered with other application icons in the taskbar. The icons on my home screen and my background have not changed. However, once you open the "Settings", the layout will be significantly different, and it may take a while for you to find the moving position of the settings you need.

In other words, the settings I check most often (such as software updates) are in the view, rather than hidden under sub-menus, which reduces the time I spend accessing them. Like the application list, once you get used to the new "settings" layout, you may find it more efficient to use.

Smartphone integration
Microsoft's smart phone integration application Your Phone is developing this initial version, and it does a good job of providing screen views of some of the phone's core functions (such as text messages and phone calls). It also seems to have a music function, but it seems to have been disabled for now. I really appreciate that you can drag a photo from the visible representation of your phone to an email on the PC desktop interface. The app is easier to use and more useful than the last time I used it.

At this stage of launch, the platform is usually not optimized for performance. However, I did not notice any personal wait states or performance degradation on Dell PCs. The lack of significant performance loss indicates that performance may improve slightly when we approach the official release of the product.

Wrapping up: Weh...

Although there are some minor improvements, Windows 11 did not disappoint me at this time. But this can be expected in the early stage, mainly focusing on hardware/software compatibility, but the function is not yet complete. This stage of testing should not be exciting. It should work normally, and Windows 11 does work with minimal interruption or retraining.

The updated operating system is completely error-free, my core applications are running well, and the Your Phone application shows usability improvements, even though at least one new feature does not seem to be activated. As the product features become more complete, I will provide updates, but for now, apart from the known requirements for the current TPM and secure boot, I don’t see any major issues.

Anyone who has used a business PC, laptop, or desktop within three years, configured with TPM 2.0 and enabled secure boot, should have a Windows 11 experience similar to mine. Without at least the current TPM, Windows 11 may not be installed on many PCs focused on consumers or education.

The TPM 2.0 and secure boot requirements of Windows 11 should produce more secure PCs because many PCs support these technologies but do not turn them on. Other systems will need to be replaced, but not necessarily immediately: Windows 10 support will last until at least 2025.

With the significant increase in ransomware attacks, postponing any measures to improve PC security comes with inherent risks, and it may be wiser to arrive sooner rather than late on this latest Windows version. However, the best practice is to wait at least two months after the official release before deploying to ensure that new issues are discovered and corrected before installation. A good time for this type of update is usually during the holiday break, when any problems have minimal impact on productivity.

One last note: When I checked the security features after installing Windows 11, they were turned off and I had to turn them on manually. If you load the current version of Windows 11, check these features; ironically, installing a more secure version of Windows 11 and finding that security is turned off is painful at best.