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What To Look Forward To With Windows 11

eCommerce and technology thought leader.

Most of us have daily interactions with computers, and statistics show that the vast majority of us work with some type of Windows operating system. However, a relatively small percentage of the population pays attention to the nitty-gritty details of what actually changes when an operating system has an update.

After chatting with a couple of engineers who have already been using Windows 11 beta for a while and trying it out for myself, I wanted to share my take on this upgrade.

• Free upgrade: First, let us start off with something that I think is good for annual budgets: The Windows 11 upgrade is free if you’re already a Windows 10 user. This is helpful for businesses that are already feeling the pinch of inflationary forces in the economy. Though, one might argue this is especially true after the promise that Windows 10 will be the last version of Windows. 

• Developer profits: The Microsoft Store has taken its cue from other app stores and will not force developers to give it a cut of the revenue. This could be huge. It’s basically allowing sideloading of apps but from a centralized spot. While Microsoft did carve out an exception for games, I expect this to put the hurt on Apple.

Implication: Some business-friendly features right out of the gate! CPOs, the next app you launch you will be able to monetize. CIOs, this is one less budget ask for your finance team.

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• Centered start menu — kinda: The new start menu is confusing at best. Why would Microsoft copy a competitor it is trouncing in the marketplace by centering the start menu? But why make the user experience inconsistent by not centering the menu if you have too many apps open? And why does it show me all my files instead of all my programs? I might change my tune after using it, but for right now … ugh. I run a lot of programs and do not like clutter. Don’t be surprised if there is another Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 “oops” do-over release on this.

• Bottom-only taskbar: Windows 11 has made a paradigm shift by putting the taskbar only on the bottom. Personally, I like it there. With that being said, it will annoy power users who like to move their taskbar to other edges of the screen. It’s a bold move, but I think it may backfire with its most loyal power users. Again, I expect a quick patch after some loud complaints come through as we saw with Windows 8. 

Implication: If you sit in the IT department, expect your power users to complain — well, really anyone outside of the design org.

• Not so green: TPM 2.0 and secure boot required? There is going to be a lot of decent hardware that could run Windows 11 that will now be e-waste to most people since MS decided that it wanted to be a walled garden. Also, it’s strange the company seems to be beating Apple in the laptop world but copying Apple versus innovating. Speaking of copying Apple, moving to 64-bit-only support makes sense given the evolution of computer manufacturing; however, it will also create e-waste (albeit less than TPM 2.0). However, for a company that promises it will be carbon negative in less than a decade, it is interesting. Don’t be surprised if you need to buy a new computer if you want to upgrade, especially if you are running an older model.

• Upgrade eligibility tool bugs: The Windows 11 upgrade tool failing to correctly ID systems that can run Windows 11 is pretty funny. There have been unconfirmed memes online about people running Windows 11 and being told they can’t upgrade. Looks like Microsoft is quickly working to remedy this by baking additional logic into it.

Implication: Prepare to buy more hardware. If you are still limping along with those Windows XP or Windows 7 computers, this is not going to be an upgrade for you. Even many Windows 10 computers might not be able to make the jump, so make sure you coordinate with your CFO sooner rather than later. Also, make sure you pay attention to your upgrade assessment process.

• Online accounts required: Home editions requiring an online account? This has kept some privacy-minded technologists OK with Microsoft. I expect to see this crowd migrate to Linux platforms. This probably is not a huge number, but it’s an interesting move given congressional hearings on the privacy of FAANG companies.

• App privacy: OK, before I get too excited, I am not sure Microsoft will let you load .apks files directly, but let’s assume it does. If so, Microsoft has suddenly become the king of apps. However, with Google’s privacy problems around Google Play Services, it will be interesting to see if this becomes a sticking point for consumers down the road. If Microsoft does not allow for the loading of .apks files directly, it feels like a fast follow as now is the time to capitalize on an app store war as Epic and Apple are in the headlines.

Implication: If you are on a corporate account, this makes sense and you might be sharing your employees’ data with Google in other ways. If you are on a personal account (e.g., gig economy worker), this is obnoxious if you want to preserve data privacy. Most will not notice or care, but if you do notice, I expect this to cause friction among super users.

On the whole, I am not thrilled about the aesthetic designs or the e-waste impact of Windows 11. With that being said, I think Microsoft did a nice job of capitalizing on the current political situation around the app store to create a business-friendly product. I expect a fast follow release to correct the design and usability issues. Personally, I plan to upgrade my primary personal laptop after the predicted usability fixes. 


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