Here at PS Tech we started using Windows 11 for a small subset of our team about 3 months after its launch in October 2021. If you are still Windows 10 (or maybe Windows 8, or 7?) you may be wondering... Is Windows 11 any good?
My personal verdict is... It's evolutionary rather than revolutionary.
Windows 11 has a confused identity. If you look in Settings, it is clearly Windows 11 as you can see here on my PC that I am creating this blog post on:
But, if I open the command prompt, I see:
Windows 11, is just an updated version of Windows 10.
That's good news. It means your apps work just as well as they did on Windows 10. In fact, we have seen zero app compatibility issues on computers we upgraded to Windows 11. Office apps, browsers, security, video conferencing, games... they all work just fine.
When you install the Windows 11 22H2 update, not much changes as you can see from this updated version number:
Is it any good? Yes, Windows 11 is just fine. But there are a few rough edges with the first release.
We welcome the Windows 11 22H2 first feature update to Windows 11. It manages to file down those rough edges into a more refined usable operating system.
What's different in Windows 11 22H2?
Windows 11 from when it was released in late 2021, works as well as Windows 10... mostly. There were some subtle and not-so-subtle changes under the hood. With this new major update (called Windows 11 22H2) being launched in September 2022, improvements have been made.
The minimum requirements have not changed with the Windows 11 22H2 update.
When Microsoft released Windows 11 in 2021, they introduced some new minimum hardware requirements to run Windows 11. These were quite a big thing when they were announced. It basically means that unless your computer is older than about early 2018, then it probably won't be compatible with Windows 11.
The official minimum requirements to run Windows 11 are as follows:
Processor: 2 core Intel or AMD Processor
RAM (Memory): At least 4Gb
Storage: At least 64Gb
Security: A Trusted Platform Module (TPM) 2.0 controller (This also rules out a lot of computer models)
Graphics: DirectX 12 compatible graphics card/chip
Internet Connection: An internet connection is required for personal use as you will need to set up your device with a Microsoft Account
The reality is, if your Windows PC is 3 years old or newer, you should be ok with this minimum specification. If you are not sure, Microsoft has produced a free PC Health Check tool that will check if your computer meets the minimum requirement to run Windows 11. You can download that here, and read more about how to use the tool here.
If you want our recommendation on a suitable specification to run Windows 11, along with the necessary apps such as Office, Security and multiple web browsers with a gazillion open tabs, then we currently recommend (as of September 2022):
Processor: Intel Quad Core 10th Generation processor or newer
RAM (Memory): At least 8Gb, preferably 16Gb to future proof
Storage: At least a 256Gb Solid State Drive
Start menu changes
Windows 11 introduced a new taskbar and start menu when it was released in 2021. Rather than the Windows start menu button and your taskbar shortcuts aligned to the left-hand corner, they are now centralised at the bottom of your screen.
The start menu had a makeover too, with pinned apps, your recent documents and power buttons now arranged in horizontal rows which you can customise to a small degree.
The Windows 11 22H2 update has made some further improvements to the start menu and taskbar.
You can now create folders to contain multiple apps. Like a smartphone, you can drag an app onto another on the start menu to create a folder or group of apps.
You can also further customise the horizontal layout of the start menu. Here are some of the new personalisation options you get:
A major bug-bear in my mind when Windows 11 was released was to do with the taskbar.
In Windows 10 you could select a file, an email, or some other object from your in-focus app, and drag it down to the taskbar and into another running app. This allowed you to 'drag and drop' the object into that other app.
With the first release of Windows 11, this feature was not there. For this very single reason, we recommended that customers wait. This simple missing feature made using Windows 11 painful unless you had multiple screens. Fortunately, common sense prevailed and this simple productivity feature returned in the Windows 11 22H2 update.
Drag and drop to the taskbar has returned! 🥳
Task Manager new look
The Windows Task Manager now has a new look, with an emphasis on efficiency and performance. Not only is there a new blue theme to Task Manager, but you can also see which apps are being controlled to improve system efficiency. This will benefit your system performance, but also should improve energy consumption. Cumulatively, this will have a big effect globally across billions of Windows users,
The vast majority of improvements and changes in Windows 11 22H2 are security related. You can read more about these new features here. But here are some highlights:
Introduction of the new Microsoft Pluton security processor to enforce Zero Trust into certain Windows subsystems. Read more about Microsoft Pluton here
Enhanced phishing protection within the Microsoft Defender SmartScreen technology, further protecting sign-ins to work or school accounts
Smart App Control. This is a new feature to control access to unwanted apps, providing further security.
Personal Data Encryption is an encryption feature to protect personal files, in addition to the entire disk Bitlocker protection.
Is Windows 11 22H2 ready for business?
Yes. For the simple reasons highlighted above. Over the last year, Windows 11 has proved reliable, easy to transition to, and easy to use. The Windows 11 22H2 update puts some well-needed refinement onto what is a solid operating system.
We now recommend that you start to plan your Windows 11 upgrade before Windows 10 21H2 goes end of life in June 2023. Read our Windows 11 downloadable guide to help get you started.
Microsoft will release one or two more annual feature updates for Windows 10, but these will not add much, and the final Windows 10 release will officially be unsupported from October 14th 2025. The clock is ticking.
As features and security continue to improve in Windows 11, it does make Windows 10 an increasingly less attractive option for businesses that take cyber security seriously.