Windows 11: The Ars Technica review

Windows 11: The Ars Technica review

Microsoft

Microsoft wanted everyone to use Windows 10.

Faced with the slow adoption of Windows 8 and the stubborn popularity of Windows 7, Microsoft made Windows 10 a free upgrade for anyone using both versions – the offer technically expired many years ago, but to this day old Windows 7 and 8 product keys still activated Windows 10 without protest. The OS was billed as a return to form that would appeal to people who were deterred by Windows 8’s divisive touch screen-oriented interface while still retaining touch-friendly features for people who had purchased a PC tablet or laptop with a touchscreen.

Windows 10 would also have a long life. Some in the company described it as “the latest version of Windows” – a large, stable platform that would simultaneously reassure change-minded users, huge IT stores that would have kept using Windows XP forever if they had been allowed to that, and software developers who no longer have to worry about supporting multiple wildly different generations of Windows at once. Windows can still change, but a new service model twice a year would keep this change at a slow but consistent pace that everyone could keep up with.

Microsoft actually achieved its main goal with Windows 10: at least it is the most widely used and most universally accepted version of Windows since XP. Statcounter says nearly 80 percent of all Windows systems worldwide run Windows 10; The Steam Hardware survey links Windows 10 usage to or above 90 percent, suggesting even greater acceptance among enthusiasts.

These top line numbers require some context. Microsoft has released a dozen-ish different releases, all called Windows 10, and the latest version of Windows 10 is at least as different from the version launched in 2015 as (say) Windows 7 was from Windows Vista. But in theory, almost all computers with Windows 10 installed will eventually be updated to the latest version, and that gives Microsoft a bigger and more consistent platform than it has had for a very long time.

The problem for Microsoft is that achieving a goal – the same version of Windows running on almost every PC – has not necessarily had the results that Microsoft was hoping for. Making Windows 10 big enough, the mindset went, and developers would be more willing to migrate from their old Win32 apps to newer Universal Windows Platform (UWP) apps and easy distribution via the Microsoft Store. And since UWP apps could run not only on PCs, but also on Xbox and Windows Phone, rapid Windows 10 adoption in the Windows-dominated PC industry would launch a virtuous cycle that would strengthen Microsoft’s other hardware and software efforts. .

That part never really happened. UWP apps never took off, and Microsoft’s new game to make the Microsoft Store relevant is to allow developers to submit what kind of apps they want. Although the Xbox was a success, it remains narrowly focused on gaming and media streaming. And Windows Phone is dead, murdered by a combination of user and developer disinterest driven by confusing messages and confusing corporate negligence.

And that’s at least part of the reason why, following a release that addressed widespread adoption as its primary goal, Microsoft is releasing a brand new version of Windows that is not even supported on computers that are more than 3 or 4 years old. old. “Windows Everywhere” was ambitious, but the dream is dead. Microsoft has shifted its focus to delivering solid versions of its apps on iOS and Android, and even Microsoft’s modern phones run a version of Android with Microsoft flavors rather than something Windows-related. The new version of Windows is more concerned with the places where Windows already is and is likely to remain risk-averse, money-rich, security-conscious businesses. There are probably plenty of user-facing changes, but the PCs running Windows 11 (at least officially) need to support a range of hardware and firmware-level security mechanisms that are fully supported but optional in Windows 10.

(The more cynical the view is that the new requirements are intended to drive new PC sales, an interpretation that became all the more plausible due to ongoing pandemic-driven PC part shortages and price increases. I personally find Microsoft’s security rationale compelling, but there is no none evidence to support this more awful reading of the company’s intentions.)

We focus on these security features and system requirements in this review, while also covering the new design and major features of new and updated apps and the other changes Microsoft has made to Windows under the hood. We also plan separate coverage on a few specific areas of the operating system, including games, new Linux subsystem features, and how it runs on older “unsupported” hardware; we connect these pieces here when they go live.

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