Windows 11: What you should know before upgrading

Windows 11 is now available, and it brings quite a few new things to the much-loved operating system. The Windows update history has been up and down in the past, but Windows 10 was generally successful. Windows 11 doesn’t dramatically change the way we use our PCs, but it does come with several new features.

There are now a plethora of different questions surrounding the update and one of the most pressing is whether to upgrade to Windows 11. In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know to make your decision.

What you need to know about Windows 11

Windows 11 is the latest big iteration of Microsoft Windows. It was released on October 5, 2021, for consumers, after a few months as a beta release. Furthermore, the release version is being released gradually, which means that eligible devices may take a little while before they are updated with the new functionality.

Windows 11 is an upgradable OS, but the minimum system requirements are higher than ever before. Microsoft says it’s the most secure Windows OS yet, but that comes at the cost of backward compatibility. Trusted Platform Module 2.0, aka TPM 2.0, is one of those requirements. There are ways to manually install Windows 11 on incompatible systems, but those include giving up on official future updates via Windows Update and/or modifying the Windows 11 ISO file to remove security checks.

So, if you have been happy with Windows 10 these past six years, what made you change your mind? A seemingly, newer version of the OS should be the better option… right? Well, if some reviews are anything to go by, there are still some mixed feelings out there, especially for business users.

As you can see, there are upsides and downsides to Windows 11. Let’s take a closer look at the good and bad.

Pro: Deep integration with Microsoft Teams

Let’s begin our list of features with something that many modern businesses will appreciate: the Microsoft Teams integration.

Microsoft Teams provide an excellent digital workspace solution, with hundreds of millions of users. The new Windows 11 release has been built to support this.

It is deeply integrated into the operating system, to the point that Teams users will find an icon on the taskbar by default. This button will display a user’s recent interactions with team members and allow them to enter into a chat or meeting within seconds.

Con: Increased system requirements

Windows 10 has been around since 2015, but even at launch, it never put too much demand on any of the devices. It runs on smartphones, tablets, and netbooks seamlessly.

You would expect that Windows 11 will have a similar lightweight list of requirements as Windows 10, but that’s not the case. Current system requirements from Microsoft are:

  • 1GHz+ 64-bit dual-core CPU
  • 4GB RAM
  • 64GB storage
  • Graphics card (GPU) with support for DirectX 12 or later
  • At least 720p screen greater than 9’ diagonally
  • Support for TPM 2.0

While these aren’t astronomical requirements, certainly they exclude several older pieces of hardware – especially the graphics requirement and TPM 2.0.

Pro: New design and functionality

We list Windows 11’s high system requirements as a disadvantage, but the need for improved graphics comes with an upside: an improved visual experience.

Everyone who has tried Windows 11 can confirm how smooth and slick the experience is on a second-by-second basis. People are also loving the new Snap Layouts in Windows 10. They increase productivity and they have a sleek, modern look and feel. It’s no secret that Microsoft has taken inspiration from Apple when it comes to design, and that’s a positive aspect.

Con: No more Cortana

It’s worth saying that Microsoft’s digital personal assistant isn’t quite as popular these days. While Siri and Alexa have been gaining a lot of success, it will be hard for Cortana to catch up. Microsoft seems to have noticed this, too. Cortana has been relegated to being just a single app in Windows 11.

This is a downside for those who preferred voice recognition as an accessibility option. Luckily, the same functionality is still available via the Cortana app in Windows 11 — it just won’t be there by default like it used to.

Pro: The all-new Start Menu

Windows 11 features an entirely overhauled Start Menu and Taskbar. These are the most immediately recognisable changes in the operating system.

When you launch the Operating System for the first time, you’ll instantly see that the Start button is in a central location on the bottom Taskbar. It resembles macOS by Apple, one of their flagship products.

The changes to the Start Menu seem major at first glance but they’re fairly simple.

Windows Start Menu nowadays is much more minimalistic and simpler. It only shows the links to installed apps and other options like documents, settings, and so on. The apps you use most can be pinned to appear at the top of your app menu, and the system will recommend other apps you might want to use based on how you work. However, much of the focus is on searching for what you want. You can now quickly explore your files, installed apps, websites, and more by typing a few letters. This is especially handy as it enables you to find content much quicker than before.

This “omnisearch” is meant to make life simpler, but it might not be suited to everyone’s needs.

Con: The all-new Start Menu

Our point is, while the new Start Menu and Taskbar are well-designed and visually appealing, they’re also a cause of controversy for some people who are in the Microsoft ecosystem.

In the current version of Windows, there are a few similarities with macOS in terms of design. For example, the Start Menu and Taskbar have been placed at the bottom, similar to macOS. Some long-time Windows users might not be too fond of the change to Windows 11, especially if they relied on the “Click Start” to locate programs in the past. But for many, this change feels like a breath of fresh air.

Luckily, you can set the taskbar to display at the bottom-left corner, but the omnisearch-focused start menu remains. If you’re used to clicking into folders in the Start Menu to access your apps, the new Windows 11 experience might take a while to get used to. You may lose the direct control you are accustomed to, but it should save time in the long run.

Pro: Better collaboration and productivity (especially for 365 subscribers)

We’ve already mentioned the way that Microsoft Teams is integrated into Windows 11. However, this goes even further for the OS.

Microsoft 365 subscribers will find that Windows 11 offers a more complete user experience. Certain features and capabilities of the OS depend on Microsoft’s cloud services, and they cannot be enjoyed by people who do not subscribe to 365.

For example, when you use the search bar in the Start Menu, it now searches your PC as well as all your OneDrive files. You can find one-click buttons across the operating system, including the taskbar, which make it easy to ‘Meet Now’ using that Teams integration. Additionally, you’ll be able to use Snap to save screen layouts via the cloud then resume them on an entirely different device.

Windows 11 is a “connected experience” that can be either good or bad depending on how it’s used.

Con: The curse of the early adopter

As we’ve noted a couple of times throughout this article, Windows 11 is certainly not a stranger to teething pains.

Anyone who has ever upgraded to a large-scale piece of software early in its life cycle knows that bugs are expected. Windows 11 is a relatively new operating system and as such, there may be certain problems with compatibility, device support, and new issues specific to Windows 11. Microsoft will address these in due time.

Windows 11 has had several problems since its release. Users have been reporting installation issues, search functionality, Windows Widgets not working, memory leaks and more.

If you plan to upgrade early on and become an early adopter, be prepared for changes and anything unforeseen.

A decision on whether to upgrade to Windows 11 is somewhat up to you. Nobody knows your business better than you do so it’s for you to decide if the pros outweigh the cons

IT training and consultations are available for Windows 11 users. Get in touch with Wizard IT today to find out more about how we can help you design, install, and maintain your IT infrastructure. We’ve already worked with many UK businesses on their Windows 11 migrations, and we’d love to help you too.

If you would like to chat about your Businesses needs, get in touch with our IT experts.

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