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Do You Want or Do You Need Windows 11?

The Sharp Ninja
Updated on ・6 min read

Update: Microsoft has killed the registry hack to get the Win10 start menu. The Win11 start menu is so bad I had to revert to Win10. Hopefully they fix it.


On June 24, Microsoft officially announced Windows 11 to great fanfare. For the last few years, Microsoft has cultivated Windows 10 into a productivity powerhouse, adding features like Windows Subsystem for Linux, Windows Sandbox, App Guard and more. They have also created a whole ecosystem of GUI controls that are equally happy with mouse and 10-touch input. Windows Defender has moved into Azure to scale up their anti-malware recognition capabilities, and OneDrive has become an integral part of many people's workflow on Windows. Throw in some niceties like Windows Terminal and WinGet and you have the most capable operating system around.

The TPM 2.0 Controversy

Microsoft started requiring OEMs to ship systems with TPM 2.0 and Secure Boot enabled by default. These two features combine hardware-level encryption to ensure that the UEFI layer and the Windows bootstrapping mechanisms haven't been tampered with to reduce the likelihood of a rootkit infesting your system.

Here's how Windows utilizes Secure Boot to protect your system.

Secure Boot start sequence

  • After the PC is turned on, the signature databases are each checked against the platform key.
  • If the firmware is not trusted, the UEFI firmware must initiate OEM-specific recovery to restore trusted firmware.
  • If there is a problem with Windows Boot Manager, the firmware will attempt to boot a backup copy of Windows Boot Manager. If this also fails, the firmware must initiate OEM-specific remediation.
  • After Windows Boot Manager has started running, if there is a problem with the drivers or NTOS kernel, Windows Recovery Environment (Windows RE) is loaded so that these drivers or the kernel image can be recovered.
  • Windows loads antimalware software.
  • Windows loads other kernel drivers and initializes the user mode processes.

source

As long as your known-good recovery files are properly encrypted (which is where TPM 2.0 comes in), you should always be able to boot up Windows in a clean state, even if some malware manages to infest the runtime environment sometime after boot up. That's where Windows Sandbox and App Guard come in, as well as Specter mitigations in Windows or compiled directly into apps.

All of this is already in Windows 10, and most people who have bought a PC over the last few years have these features enabled. If you built your computer, you may not. Even today, some motherboard manufacturers ship retail boards with TPM 2.0 turned off (as well as CPU virtualization, which is mind boggling). If you don't enable TPM 2.0 before installing Windows, then you will not have the Secure Boot workflow happening during bootup. I don't know why they would do this. Linux distributions have been TPM 2, UEFI and Window Secure Boot compatible for quite some time.

If your existing hardware is TPM 2.0 capable, you can enable these great security features in your current installation of Windows 10. If you want to migrate from your current Windows 10 to Windows 11, this is step number 1.

Windows 11's New Features

The TPM 2.0 Controversy comes into play because Windows 11 requires that TPM 2.0 and Secure Boot be enabled at all times. This is a major step forward for PC security because now all laptops, tablets and desktops running Windows 11 will be much more resilient to all kinds of malware, but most notably against persistent root kits, which are by far the most damaging class of Malware. The controversy online has been in the form of complaints that this will lock out older computers that lack TPM 2.0 or that have TPM 2.0, but it is disabled in the UEFI settings. I understand that many early adopters are upset that they cannot upgrade their systems to Windows 11. Not being able to have the newest and shiniest version of your software can be a downer. But the barrier is not large, and practically any motherboard and CPU sold in recent years can have TPM 2.0 enabled through the UEFI system settings, or have a TPM 2.0 module added to bring the system into compliance. If that's too much to ask, then maybe you don't need to think about the security implications of not doing so and just stick with whatever OS still supports your workflow.

The other major leap in requirements for Windows 11 is using a DirectX 12 compatible GPU. While not the punching bag of a requirement that TPM 2.0 is, it's important to Microsoft from a product perspective. Windows 11 is getting all of Xbox Series X|S based graphics and gaming features--including Dynamic HDR, and that is all based on a minimum of DirectX 12. If running modern games on your PC doesn't interest you, then that's another reason to stick with Windows 10 until the 2025 End of Support date.

Having spent the last week with Windows 11, the big draw for me is the new System Settings. Nowhere does there appear to have been more time and effort put into Windows 11 that System Settings. The Task Bar and Start Menu are also updated. I'm indifferent to the task bar changes. The new Start Menu is the worst Start Menu ever to grace Windows. It's tiny; the icons are tiny. You have nearly zero control of what is on it and where. It functions identically to placing shortcut on the desktop with auto-arrange enabled all the time. Clicking the button to get the list of applications shows all the applications in a single column, which means you are scrolling forever to get to apps that start with W or V. Fortunately, this madness can be disabled and the Windows 10 start menu be restored.

Once you have restored the Windows 10 start menu, you blood pressure will drop precipitously. Although not the complete re-write that the start menu went under, the File Explorer has been visually enhanced. The context menu is cleaner, with modern icons, and theirs a menu item to show the classic context menu if you find some of your favorite functionality is missing at the top level. The ribbon is gone (I don't know if it can be re-enabled) but the icons on the toolbar are the standard set you would expect including a button that you would expect to see with more options.

Taking stock of Windows 11 from a developer's perspective, it's really just Windows 10 with better System Settings and better gaming facilities. Right now, Windows 11 is in my way because there's a bug in Project Reunion 0.8 that breaks on Windows 11 meaning I cannot run my current side-project on Win11. It's been fixed, but it hasn't been pushed. This affects every developer on Win11, so Project Reunion needs to push a flight ASAP to get the fix on NuGet. This was supposedly one of the motivations for gutting UWP and distributing the application framework separately. Microsoft needs to prove this was the right call. The store isn't radically different and you still cannot search your library.

The last thing that stands out is that the built-in Win32 UI controls got a refresh. The Textbox is especially attractive.

The best inclusion for developers is that Windows Terminal and WinGet are installed by default.

Conclusion

The new features of Windows 11 are:

  • Xbox Series X|S Gaming
  • Updated File Explorer UI
  • Improved System Settings
  • Updated Win32 UI controls

Literally everything else is already in Windows 10, should you choose to enable it.

So, who is Windows 11 for?

  1. IT Administrators - This is the group that will insist on either upgrading to Win 11 immediately to ensure that every system has TPM 2.0 enabled, or will use the promise of Win 11 to force policy changes that result in all Windows 10 systems having TPM 2.0 enabled. Either way, these guys win.
  2. People who must have the latest and greatest - Most will simply buy a new laptop or Surface tablet (hopefully with an 11th Gen Core i5+ processor). For those that go the upgrade route, updating their UEFI to enable TPM 2.0 is a major win regardless of OS.
  3. Developers - Having WinGet and Windows Terminal installed out of the box means I can avoid a stop to the Windows Store to get these before installing my software.

As always, I would love to hear from you about your perspective on the features and requirements of Windows 11.

Discussion (11)

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przemek profile image
Przemyslaw Michalak • Edited

So far I think that Win11 is a joke. I didn't dig deep down just yet and your article is one of the most informative things I read about new OS so far, but it looks like they refreshed the UI and call it a new system. Windows has a lot of problems of its own and so far it seems that Microsoft decided that icons are one of the biggest issues to address...

I hope that in the close feature I gonna find out more useful things about 'new' Win. But honestly, I think Microsoft spit on our faces with Win8 and constantly adding more %^&^ with every new update since then.

Oh ok. Except new UI there are also functionalities available in Win10, but this time they will be 'must have' and worst 'must use' features. That's not an improvement.

And BTW, thanks for article. To make it clear my frustration is towards Microsoft, not the author.

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sharpninja profile image
The Sharp Ninja Author

What is it specifically that you are upset about? Icons in Win11 are already in Win10. The updated setting are a huge improvement. The gaming capabilities are a big upgrade. If those things don't appeal to you, you can be happily supported on Win10 for another four years.

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przemek profile image
Przemyslaw Michalak

Your second sentence is exactly my point. That all changes in win11are already in win10. Just in win10 are optional in 11 you will have to use them. But that's not the point. Let's leave UI dx12 etc.
My point is, that windows has a lot of problems, bugs and missing things. I would expect that win11 gonna sort out some of those problems. Managing apps in windows is horrible, their new terminal or old power shell, both jokes. Notification system, task manager, stupid (latest update) weather forecast, Skype turning on on start of the system without possibility of turning it off. Windows defender and firewall. I can go on whole day what is wrong with win10. And this is what is upsetting for me. Out of all serious problems they have, they decided to refresh UI and release it as a new system...

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sharpninja profile image
The Sharp Ninja Author • Edited

I'm going to break this down into three groups: I agree, I disagree, and You are Totally Off Base.

I Agree

Managing apps in windows is horrible

True, for non-store apps and for those who won't use WinGet. For store apps, you simply right click the app icon from the start menu and select "Uninstall". Poof, it's gone. WinGet can uninstall any app on the system that was installed via an installer, so you can script uninstalling apps.

I Don't Agree

Notification system

You need to back this up. What is wrong with the notification system?

task manager

What? I mean, seriously, what the hell are you talking about? Task Manager is incredibly effective and even deep links into resource monitor to dig into the minutae of running processes.

stupid (latest update) weather forecast

Is it broken? Are you unable to turn it off?

Skype turning on on start of the system without possibility of turning it off.

Simply not true. You can even uninstall Skype completely.

Windows defender

You need to elaborate. Windows Defender covers a lot of ground. What doesn't work?

firewall.

I can only assume you don't like the UI. I find it both intuitive and effective. Please explain what you find wrong with Windows Firewall.

Out of all serious problems they have, they decided to refresh UI and release it as a new system...

You haven't laid out a case for serious problems. The security changes and Xbox compatibility changes are a definite divergence from status quo Windows 10. They do warrant a new version, especially the security changes because it's a lot harder to sell the CEO on "We must upgrade to Windows 10 XXXX to get better security" than it is "We must upgrade to Windows 11 to get better security, AND when we're done every computere will have cryptographically secure firmware and OS files".

You Are Totally Off Base

their new terminal or old power shell, both jokes.

You're going to have to back up these claims. Windows Terminal is extremely good. It lacks for nothing and performs well. Windows PowerShell has been phenomenal since day 1, and PowerShell 7 is my default command line in Linux. If I need to use bash then I simply /bin/bash the script from pwsh. Programming Bash is an inconsistent hodge-podge of crappy syntax combined inconsistent system commands that require memorizing minutae that eats too much time. PowerShell has autocompltion for the flags and arguments of each command as well as enumerated values for arguments. It has built-in help that is way easier to use than man and adding the -Online flag opens your browser to the full documentation. Scripting and debugging PowerShell 7 is a seamless experience with VSCode, plus you can invoke Dotnet Core binaries from your scripts and use the return objects natively.

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przemek profile image
Przemyslaw Michalak

I wrote very loooong comment answering to all your points, just to delete it. Let's take a step back in our discussion.

The reason why I deleted everything is simple. We can pick on singular apps, functions, services or even scripts in Windows, but my beef with Microsoft is the whole experience altogether. So please, try to look at everything from my point of view rather than splitting everything into singular points.

I'm running my own start-up so I'm using Windows for 2 main tasks:

-In the office to develop my product
-at home for entertainment

In the office every minute counts and every single update causing me to slow down is very expensive for both, my company and my mental health. At home on the other hand I'm turning on the PC to chill.

Both of those tasks are constantly destroyed by Windows, it's updates and the way how they trying to force on the users their new features.

Additional Microsoft services (as Skype for example) are the first thing I'm getting rid off after Windows installation, just to find out that after one of the magic updates they gonna appear back, not only in the system, but they also set themselves to autostart. Can I uninstall it or turn it off again? Probably, but I don't want to do annoying tasks over and over because Windows tries to make me happy.

Updates and how Windows is managing them is another joke. Many times I couldn't use my laptop at work because Windows decided to update itself without my knowledge or permission. Latest story - my laptop reset itself with a bluescreen, after it boot itself up Windows decided without any question to push an update. I wasted an hour on downloading/installing everything it needed, just to find out that Windows automatically installed new drivers for my graphics card (along with weather forecast and other crap I didn't ask for). And problem is that the newest drivers for my graphics has an issue with hyper-v which I used for docker (yeah, I'm not using hyper-v anymore). The issue was, that the Windows thought I had 10 screens plugged in to my laptop. No way of turning them off, no way of changing their settings, just apps showing on screens that I don't have. The only solution for it, is to find and reinstall deprecated drivers that are not on official Intel website anymore. And that is waste of even more time. And please again. Don't split it to the points that it might be the fault of Intel, docker or whoever. The problem is in my experience with Windows that is doing whatever it likes whenever it wants. Simple question 'Do you want to update your device' would be enough to make me happy.

Can I turn off the updates, their apps I don't want to use or services? Well some yes, some not. But the point is, that every time they introduce new thing I am the one who has to learn how to turn it off/on etc. Weather forecast for example can't be turned off by right clicking on it or by going to it's settings (there are only 'tips and ^^%^ tricks'). And again please don't split it to the points, that's again example of Windows forcing me to be happy with their new feature. Same applies to all other apps they constantly introducing, instead of fixing serious bugs in the system.

And serious bugs are there. And I think I can safely assume we all agree on it. It is normal. In such a complex system their have to be. But that's my point. I'm lately running with a serious bug in the file explorer and Microsoft instead of fixing this, introducing me to their news in the new button with the weather!

The point is I can go on with the problems like this, and we can keep commenting back and forth what is broken and what is great. But my comment is not about singular things, it's about Windows all together constantly making my life miserable.

My conclusion - together with growing popularity of Android and people swapping PCs to phones Microsoft decided to adjust to the market and make it's system simpler for John Doe, but somewhere on the road it lost it's own personality.
Those days computers are more and more often used by specialists, since more and more entertainment is handled by phones, smart TVs and other than PC devices. And making Windows to be a mixture of system easy to use for John Doe and flexible for specialists it's becoming a mix of garbage. When I'm working on my product I'm not willing to see idiotic notifications from browser, weather forecasts or adjusting my work schedule to Windows updates. Can I set all of it up for my needs? Yeah, after countless hours of looking for each function in the settings, but after next update everything gonna reset and go back to the settings that Windows want me to use, not me. So for me that's the biggest problem with Windows. It doesn't know anymore if it's a product for every day user? for tablets? for phones? for specialist? for touch screens? for normal screens? for multiple screens? maybe for games? or maybe just for everything? If the last is the case, as we all know -Being good at everything is the same as being great at nothing.

So this is what I would call a new Windows 11. Taking the step back, settling by Microsoft who the Windows is dedicated for and pushing changes towards those people. Not taking singular features from iOS and Android, mixing it with classic experience of Windows dedicated for desktop and trying to give a birth to Immaculate Conception.

And that's obviously my point of view. And probably it won't get a lot of acceptance from the community, because it looks, like most of the people are very happy with Windows as it is.

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sharpninja profile image
The Sharp Ninja Author • Edited

To sum up, Windows Updates are your main problem with Windows, and because of that the things you aren't fond of get amplified.

There is good news. Microsoft allows you to configure your Windows Updates on the Advanced pages in settings.

When you enable update notifications you can tell Windows exactly when to install updates. Also, you can pause updates for any period of time. It's all in your control.

EDIT: TIL that DEV refuses to display images fromn OneDrive.

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przemek profile image
Przemyslaw Michalak

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know. Unfortunately their update manager is also not working in my favour. Several another long stories like one when I blocked updates on specific Wi-Fi just to one day open the laptop on the airport and see that Windows connected to the new network started updating itself. It just seems that Windows is no go for me and I would be more than happy to simply switch to Linux, but not all programs I need are possible to install there (on my private PC I also sometimes play games). So I just became very miserable about Windows :sad:
I simply miss the times when I was setting up my OS as I like and everything was exactly the same from installation till the next format of the hard drive :sad:

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sharpninja profile image
The Sharp Ninja Author

I understand your feelings, but you irritation is misplaced, IMO. Microsoft does not want the expense and marketing headaches that comes with patch Tuesday. Unfortunately they have no choice because of people installing crap that they shouldn't. The idea of not modifying your system is a naive relic from before computers became socialized through networking. Apple does a lot to keep updates quiet on iOS and MacOS. Android largely ignores security holes and just takes down vulnerable apps. Both approaches are born out of walled garden app stores. For some odd rwason, the same people who complain about updates being so invasive also refuse to use apps from the Microsoft Store.

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przemek profile image
Przemyslaw Michalak

'The idea of not modifying your system is a naive relic' - guilty.
'For some odd rwason, the same people who complain about updates being so invasive also refuse to use apps from the Microsoft Store.' - also guilty 😂

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gmy77 profile image
Gimmy

It seems to me incredible that if my system works perfectly on Windows 10 64bit, I understand that it is not updated an i5-750 with 12GB of RAM and a GTX970 but everything works optimally. I don't care about emulators ... I don't care a NSA-proof PC etc ... I don't care. I'm sure that Windows 11 would work well even on my PC instead I think it's a way to make us spend money, just this. I have always used Microsoft as operating system, always ... and then I can say that Windows 10 supported until 2024... this is a punch in the stomach. At this point is obvious I have to look around to other. I don't have money now... simple.

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The Sharp Ninja Author

At some point a line must be drawn in the sand about security. Microsoft is on the correct side of this issue with Win11.