408 What’s different in Windows 11?

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Windows 11 has been out for about a year now. If you’re running Windows 10 currently, there’s no real need to upgrade yet. But you might be curious about how Windows 11 is different.

Windows 11

 

My own primary computer is still running Windows 10, but I’ve worked on a lot of Windows 11 computers already. Quite a few of my clients have bought new computers in the past year, so I’ve done my “new PC setup” process on those. And some have upgraded to Windows 11 from a previous version.

There are a few differences, but I would say that there’s not a huge learning curve involved to start using Windows 11. It’s nothing at all like the Windows 8 train wreck (where Microsoft decided it was smart to just remove the Start menu completely). But there are a few differences that you will probably notice.

The biggest thing is the change in the layout of the Start menu. You’re used to the Start button in the lower left corner, and when you click it, there’s the list of your programs showing on the left edge of your screen.

With Windows 11, the Start button is in the center of the taskbar, and the Start menu pops up right in the middle of the screen (rather than the left side). This is what the Start menu looks like:

Windows 11 start menu

 

The top half of the menu are the program icons that are “pinned” (so you can choose what shows up there if you want to). And if you want to see the entire list, you click the “All apps” button to see the full list that you’re more accustomed to seeing in the Windows 10 Start menu. Why this has to be in the middle of the screen, I don’t know – it seems more convenient to keep it on the left side. But it’s not a huge deal.

One thing that has taken me a bit longer to get used to is the different Context menu. This is the little menu window that comes up when you RIGHT click on something.

For example, in Windows 10, if you right click on a file, you get these options:

Windows 10 context menu

 

Very clear, not really any thought involved.

But with Windows 11, the Cut/Copy/Paste/Delete options are in the top row and are just represented by icons, rather than words. It looks like this:

Windows 11 context menu

 

So when I’m copying/pasting, it’s not just an intuitive click because I see the word “Copy” – now I have to stop for a half second and think about which icon I need to click on to cut or copy or paste or delete. Personally, I prefer the actual words rather than the cute icons. But I’m starting to get used to it.

Also, that context menu is much shorter. To get to the traditional longer list with more options (such as Properties), you have to click on “Show more options”. Just adds another step to the process. But again, this is a minor inconvenience. And for a lot of people who rarely use this function, it might not be noticed at all.

One of the things I definitely DON’T like about Windows 11 is that Microsoft is trying to force you to sign in to your Microsoft account just to use your computer. And this starts from the very first time you boot up – this is why I tell my clients: Don’t turn on your new computer the first time until you and I are on the phone. This is so that we can bypass Microsoft’s privacy invasion functions – and that has to be done on the first bootup.

When you turn on that Windows 11 computer for the first time, Microsoft is going to lead you down the path to getting it set up the way THEY want you to use it – including that sign-in to your Microsoft account (and saving all of your data to OneDrive, their cloud storage service, rather than your computer’s local hard drive). In fact, when you’re going through that initial setup process, it’s seems very clear that there’s no way to get past that. They don’t offer you any other options.

But that’s why you have me!

There is a way to get around that requirement of signing in to your Microsoft requirement, and changing where your files are saved by default. I can help you navigate through that initial setup, and that can all be done remotely.

So those are the big things. As I mentioned, from a usability standpoint, it’s not difficult to make the switch and start using your computer on Windows 11. You will still need to get a good antivirus program (I can install that remotely as well) since the one that comes with Windows is pretty basic – it’s better than nothing. But for security, you should have protection that is more thorough.

The bottom line is this – there’s no real need to upgrade from Windows 10 to Windows 11 yet. But when that time does come, it’s not something to worry about. You’ll be fine.

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