The long wait is finally over. Microsoft officially released Windows 11 on October 5 and is available as a free upgrade for computers already running Windows 10 and meet the minimum requirements. Of course, the free upgrade is only possible if your Windows 10 is genuinely licensed. Windows 11, as we review, brings some new and exciting features to users, but should you upgrade? We help you decide.

A Look at Windows 11

Overall, the new design looks and feels nice. It’s fresh, yet familiar in that it still maintains the face of Windows 10, but with some tweaks here and there. As is the norm with Microsoft, the rollout is gradual, and it might be months before the new OS version reaches your device.

To find out if your PC is ready to get this latest build, go to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update, and click on “Check for Updates”. Alternatively, press the Windows icon on your keyboard and search for the term “Check for Updates”. Once there, follow the on-screen instructions to download the new OS (if it’s available).

To check if your computer is compatible with Windows 11, you can run the health check and see if it meets the minimum requirements. Most devices bought within the last few years should be good to go. The Windows 11 OS requires TPM 2.0, a kind of security module that comes built into PCs.

For:

  • Polished, clean, and attractive user interface
  • Free upgrade for licensed Windows 10 users
  • Better security features than Windows 10
  • Improved icons and tools
  • Support for Android apps coming soon
  • New performance improved features

Against:

  • Won’t work on older hardware
  • Some familiar tools are going away, such as Timeline
  • Microsoft Teams integration by default
  • New interface and changes might take some learning

Windows 11 Review: User Interface

At first glance, Windows 11 looks beautiful. The Start menu, which has lived in the lower-left corner for decades is now at the left edge of centered icons. On the Start menu, you’ll find pinned and recommended apps replacing Live Tiles.

The desktop template is not what you’ve been used to in Windows 10. It’s aesthetically pleasing and brings back the rounded edges that were all-hot in the mid-2000s. The fresh new look extends everywhere on the OS, and even app windows now sport rounded corners.

The Taskbar, which now sits at the center has a minimal look, and people are comparing it to macOS. However, the function remains the same.

Widgets

One of the newest features on Windows 11 is Widgets. These are auto-updating tiles displaying content like news headlines, weather, and calendar – basically things you see on your mobile every day.

The Widgets reside in a hidden tray that slides from the left side of the desktop when you click on the Widgets button. While it’s a great idea, the Widgets is an easily forgotten feature, and most people probably won’t use them.

New Gaming Options

Windows 11 brings a new and improved gaming experience to users. There are a few issues, and it’s now quicker. Gamers will like the Auto HDR feature, which improves lighting in games, and DirectStorage, which helps games load faster. But, to enjoy these features, you’ll need specific hardware.

For instance, to use DirectStorage, you have to be playing a video game that works with the DirectStorage API on a computer with an NVMe SSD and a GPU that supports DirectX12 Ultimate.

The good news is that these features are common on the latest PCs.

Performance

Microsoft touted Windows 11 as the fastest OS, and they weren’t wrong. Overall performance has improved partly due to how Windows 11 handles memory management to favor the open app windows running in the foreground. This ensures the apps get more CPU power over other system resources.

Other performance changes relate to how fast your machine resumes from sleep and handles standby time. The RAM is designed to stay energized when the PC is in sleep mode, meaning it retains power while everything else doesn’t. This helps the PC wake from sleep up to 25 percent faster.

You’ll also notice some performance improvements if you use Microsoft Edge, Windows 11 browser of choice. The sleeping tabs feature helps you save up to 32 percent of memory and 37 percent CPU usage.

Settings and File Explorer on Windows 11

The Settings app has undergone a major overhaul, with some settings being combined and others moved around. The Settings app can still be accessed from the Start menu, but now appears like an icon when you hit the Start button or Windows logo on your keyboard.

Once it opens, you’ll notice it looks neater and more user-friendly. All the tabs are listed in the left sidebar, unlike in Windows 10, making it easier to find a setting. File Explorer has been remade and frankly speaking, the new features make it look less distracting. The New button at the top left corner gives you options for new folders or documents supported by your apps. Viewing options remain the same, and the overflow menu offers selection, file compression, and Properties options.

The right-click context menu has been shorted to show only the necessary options. Arranging open windows has never been this simple on any OS, thanks to the new Snap Layouts feature. When you hover your mouse over the maximize icon, you can choose exactly where you want to shove an app.

Time to Upgrade?

These are just some of the changes you should expect to see on the new Windows 11 OS. It looks sleeker than Windows 10, and it’s even more fun to use. While some might complain of unfamiliarity, it’s a modern operating system after all. Nothing’s wrong with shifting away from the tradition, especially if it means a performance improvement.

What’s more, it’s way easier to multitask on Windows 11. Whether or not to upgrade is your choice, but you may want to give it some time for the launch issues and bugs to be fixed.

All images by Shutterstock

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