Windows 11 hands-on: A cleaner OS to keep you productive


Judging from the primary Windows 11 Insider Preview, Microsoft’s subsequent OS is shaping up to be rather more than a mere Windows 10 replace. The company is basically shifting the best way many points of Windows works, with a centered taskbar and redesigned Start menu, amongst different modifications. But it is nonetheless Windows, so at its core it nonetheless works prefer it all the time has. There’s the concentrate on productiveness that Microsoft leaned into with Windows 10, together with subtler enhancements that makes for a extra nice person expertise. At this level, Windows 11 seems like an OS that can please PC diehards and mainstream customers alike.

Gallery: Windows 11 Insider Preview | 9 Photos

Gallery: Windows 11 Insider Preview | 9 Photos

At first look, the Windows 11 Insider Preview, which began rolling out on Monday, does not look a lot totally different from the leaked build we lined just a few weeks in the past. The centered and icon-filled taskbar nonetheless appears distinctly Mac-like; the rounded window corners give off a barely extra polished vibe; and the redesigned Start menu is bound to be controversial. It options pinned app shortcuts up prime, advisable recordsdata on the backside, and a hyperlink within the prime proper to see your complete unfiltered Start Menu.

This Start menu is actually totally different, however after testing out the leaked build for 2 weeks, I’ve grown to desire the modifications. I’ve by no means met anybody who used the Live Tiles in Windows 10’s Start menu, and people had been only a distilled remnant from Windows 8’s horrific full-screen Start web page. It’s good to be rid of that legacy, as soon as and for all.

As I dug additional into the preview build, I seen small tweaks all through that simply felt, effectively, good. Instead of mixing notifications and system shortcuts right into a single right-hand pane, they’re now damaged up throughout two screens. Hitting the clock within the Windows 11 taskbar brings up your entire notifications, together with a full calendar. The system shortcuts, in the meantime, are mixed right into a single display screen that pop up when you press the Wi-Fi, sound or battery icons.

Devindra Hardawar/Engadget

From there, you can be a part of different wi-fi networks, and switch Bluetooth on and off, together with airplane, battery saver or Focus help modes. Sliders alongside the underside additionally let you handle your quantity and display screen brightness. This is not that totally different from Windows 10, however the total look is loads cleaner and simpler to learn. (Maybe I’m simply sick of hitting the “More options” to increase Windows 10’s shortcut settings.)

Microsoft can be clearly pushing a taskbar UI that solely options icons in Windows 11. It’s one thing the company began doing with Windows 7, however up till Windows 10 you all the time had the choice to activate labels for taskbar icons (at the least, till they began piling up an excessive amount of). While it tended to make Windows look a bit messy, I all the time preferred having the ability to see what a window contained earlier than I truly clicked on it. Windows 11 not has label choices of any type, and there is not any indication that Microsoft desires to deliver them again. They simply do not match into the neat aesthetic the company is aiming for now.

At first I figured dropping labels could be a ache, however I’ve grown used to dwelling with an icon-filled taskbar over the previous couple of weeks. And I’d gladly lose labels in change for higher multitasking options, like this new OS’s revamped window snapping. Now you can hover your mouse pointer over any app’s maximize button to see an array of areas to snap it to, like the highest left or backside proper of your display screen. It’s rather more correct than dragging a display screen to a selected spot and hoping Windows mechanically snaps it into place.


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