Windows 11 first impressions – our roundtable

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Last week, Microsoft announced an event coming on June 24th, to unveil “the next generation of Windows.” Then yesterday the curtains were pulled back a bit as a build of Windows 11 (and yes, that’s the name, all the hints were spot on) was leaked online. Like many of you around the world, some of us here at installed the latest version of Windows, here’s some first impressions:

Kip Kniskern

I still have questions. Windows 11 at first glance, installed on my Surface Laptop 3, looks good enough, with rounded corners and smoother animations. I’m impressed with the work to build in formerly tacked on features like Timeline, ink support, and even News and Interests (although I have my doubts about this, do we really need MSN built into the OS?). However, there’s so much we still don’t know. Microsoft hinted as much in a somewhat self-defensive Tweet yesterday:

We still don’t know where Windows 11 fits in – is it meant mainly for new devices and seekers? Will Microsoft push Windows 10 users to upgrade, or will 10 and 11 co-exist for the foreseeable future? And what about the new Microsoft Store? Will the “in box” apps all get a Windows 11 upgrade? Will Microsoft Teams really be built in to the OS?

While getting our hands on Windows 11 has answered some questions, there’s still lots left to learn (and I’m sure that will be true after June 24th, too).

Kareem Anderson

When the ISO and screenshots began flowing yesterday, I was an arm-over-arm nose up hold out in getting swept up in all of the Windows 11 hoopla. To me, the initial look and feel that people were reporting on seemed little improved from what we got back in 2020 this time last year.

However, because I’m a fan of tech and was developing a growing sense of FOMO as my peers bathed in all the new news from early versions of Windows 11, I begrudgingly installed it on two devices last night. Since installing it on a Surface Pro 7 Plus and Surface Laptop 3 (Intel), these early leaked ISOs of Windows 11 have grown on me.

Above the changes to the visuals of the new taskbar, Start window, widgets pane, and multi task section, it’s the fluidity of the overall UI that’s impressed me so far. Jumping through windows and menus “feels” smoother than in previous versions of Windows. I understand it’s a relatively low bar to be impressed by fluidity of animations while there remains larger OS inconsistencies such as Outlook just giving the middle finger to the whole rounded corners move, or volume, battery, OneDrive options in the task still using the squared off edges despite sitting next to the updated ink and Wi-Fi settings. Surprisingly, these more fluid animations go a long way for me to satiate my appetite for the modernization of Windows.

We’ll see how long things like fluid animations, intuitive windows snapping and rounded corners distract me from the long work ahead the Windows team has ahead in pulling all of these disparate concepts and ideas together in fully fleshed out cohesive user experience.

Abhishek Baxi

It’s a tad too early for one’s first impressions of Windows 11 basis a leaked build but the arrival of a new generation of Windows after half a decade is an exciting time, for sure.

The highlight of the first unveil (unofficial one, that is) is the refreshed user interface with a redesigned Start menu. It looks neat and functional, and for someone like me who’s used TaskbarX to center the taskbar all this while, the layout gets a thumbs up. I quite like widgets since like Live Tiles, they offer information at a glance which is handy for things likes weather, to-dos, etc. I do hope there are better customization options than what we have on ‘News and interests’ right now. The easier discovery of features – like snapping of windows – is a welcome step. A lot of Windows features stay hidden from the plain sight and undiscoverable to casual users. This was also a problem with deep, nested menus in Office apps and Microsoft fixed it with a ribbon interface many years ago.

However, the inconsistency in the UI which has been a sore point for Windows 10 all these years, stays on. Even if one ignores the legacy Windows components like Control Panel, etc., there’s still a lot that needs to be done. I thought Windows 11 would take care of it from the get go.

There’s still a lot to unpack, and the leaked build doesn’t offer a chance to do some spelunking there. Especially the Microsoft Store experience. Let’s see what’s in store next week.

Your turn

What are your first impressions of Windows 11? Take our poll below, and let us know what you think in the comments!