Windows 11 2 is coming soon. Is it worth getting an upgrade? We took a look at the latest 2022 release preview about Microsoft’s flagship operating system.
Windows 11 was launched in October 2021 with some controversial changes. The first was a significantly reduced list of compatible devices (compared to its predecessor, Windows 10). The second was a UI redesign that seemed pretty much guaranteed to piss off customers who still grumbled about the Windows 8 and 8.1 Start Menu fiasco.
But hey, the corners of the window were (sometimes) rounded and you didn’t really care about the fact that right-clicking on the taskbar no longer gave the task manager options, right?
It’s fair to say the OS hasn’t been a huge hit for Microsoft (as evidenced by the OS usage stats – despite the company bravely insisting that uptake was excellent), but it’s still early days and companies have always been likely to stay away until the first major update (Even without the stringent hardware requirements, which have rendered large parts of the companies’ current hardware fleets obsolete.)
Windows 11 in detail: Incremental upgrade spoiled by onerous system requirements and usability errors
With the code switched to the Release Preview channel for the Windows Insider program, and its arrival on Windows Update for Business, a release looms. The question is, considering Microsoft’s drip-feed of minor updates since release: What’s new this time?
The good news for organizations at least is that the answer is not that important. At least, that is not likely to frighten the horses. However, this means that there is not much to entice the naysayers.
While the hardware requirements (for recent CPUs and TPMs) remain in place, despite a slightly embarrassing resurgence earlier this month in which it appears that someone at the company’s Redmond HQ forgot to run a CPU check, the controversial new Start menu has been updated. . Apps can now be pinned to folders and more apps can be seen or stick to the recommendation view.
Folders in the Start Menu (click to enlarge)
Unfortunately, functionality that Windows 10 fans considered missing in action remain: drag-and-drop is very limited and third-party options (like launching Stardock 11) remain to restore some of what Microsoft decided you didn’t need in Windows 11.
The upshot for organizations is that users will still need to retrain before venturing too close to the user interface — for reasons known only to Microsoft.
In addition to updates to the Start menu itself, Microsoft has also added a few gestures for touchscreen users – swipe up to display the Start menu, swipe left to show all apps and swipe right to go back to installed apps. It’s an improvement, but it all feels like window decoration compared to the complaints of users who missed the days of Windows 10.
Other changes to the user interface include improvements to window capture and something obvious cosmetic in the form of volume control to dispense with some of the last traces of the Windows 8 era.
The Windows team has already fixed the maven task manager app (the changes are mostly cosmetic), although an efficiency mode that can be turned on for processes will be of interest to administrators looking for ways to conserve power without actually having to suspend background processes.
Likewise, Windows 11 22H2 will also attempt to install its updates when your local electricity source comes from renewable sources, assuming it can access data feeds with this information. From an organization’s point of view, one might hope that the administrator would have an organization’s fleet under adequate control.
One of Microsoft’s rationale for its HCL was security, and what lies in Windows 11 is smart app control to prevent users from running untrusted or unsigned apps (although you’ll need a fresh install of Windows 11 to use it — after all thing, the existing installation can actually be hacked) and the Windows Sandbox is improved with ARM64 support.
Perhaps most important on the security front is the recent stripping of SMB1 support (the home version is the last one the protocol has been removed.) Sure, administrators can bring support back to the platform, but that’s probably as good an excuse as any. To finally get rid of an organization of the devices you still rely on.
However, what is most worrying for consumers is that users will require a Microsoft account in order to set up Windows 11. Businesses and schools (as users will already have an account with their organizations) will not be affected but the change could come as a shock to users who are used to working locally.
Other useful security management tweaks include some new Mobile Device Management (MDM) policies for more control over devices, as well as support for specific adapter discovery (DDR.)
Finally, there are improvements to both Narrator (with new text-to-speech voices) and Live Captions, for computer-generated captions; Useful not only for those with hearing impairments, but anyone who struggles to focus on sound (although the post is only in English at the moment).
Microsoft has not confirmed when the second version of Windows 11 will arrive. The release isn’t the big fuss for some versions, and it’s a reflection of Windows 11’s update mechanism, but it still brings out some jagged edges.
Administrators have been given more control over the operating system, but for organizations looking to the looming end of Windows 10 support, some training is still needed — as well as explaining why what might work in Windows 10 doesn’t. It works in Windows 11.
And maybe the team isn’t finished in Redmond yet. A refreshed File Explorer – full of tabs – recently appeared in the Windows Insider Beta channel (although it’s not yet in release preview.)
Soon on Windows 11? (click to enlarge)
Ultimately, Windows 11 22H2 will likely be the version that companies committed to the Windows world will adopt. The operating system has had a stable year and almost any new device will be able to run it without falling into Microsoft hardware hurdles. And perhaps most importantly, there is nothing to worry about (at least, not since the initial release).
Which is, let’s face it, just how the officials like it. ®