Windows 11 - six months later, still totally meh

Updated: February 9, 2022

Early in July 2021, I reviewed the Dev Build of Windows 11. I was underwhelmed on so many levels. The new operating system, if it can be called that, was raw, unfinished, and came with a slew of bugs and ergonomic annoyances. But that was then. Since, this thing has been officially released, and it even received a handful of big, critical patches, designed to help resolve some of the early problems.

With optimism, nay jadedness of heart, I set about testing Windows 11 with a fresh outlook. After all, six months and change is a lot of time to resolve various issues, and give users, hopefully, a decent experience. The reason why I'm doing this so-called milestone article rather than a more "streamlined" update is that I feel no need whatsoever to be using or testing Windows 11. I find it totally unnecessary, and will not be using it on my serious systems. But test we shall, and report thus.

Desktop

Performance improvements?

One of the problems I raised early on was the overall sluggishness of the system, Explorer in particular. My relatively new and decent test machine has a Ryzen CPU and NVMe storage, and yet, Windows 11 feels sluggish, syrupy, like I'm running on hardware a good five or six older, plus mechanical disk.

At some point, Microsoft officially acknowledged that there was a problem with certain AMD-powered platforms (which isn't there in Windows 10, but hey), and released a fix in October 2021. However, for me, this fix does nothing at all. No speed improvement, no lag reduction, no enhanced responsiveness.

The reasons could be three: 1) the fix doesn't really do what it should on my platform 2) the manual fixes that I've already added, described in detail in my performance tweaks article, namely visual effects and tweaking the processor min. power state already do the job 3) the improvements are negated by other system changes, i.e. so-called "improvements" added into the system since.

I still keep noticing a variety of niggles. The system tray takes its merry time to spawn open. Displaying contents in any which Explorer folder (with or without the new look) still takes a good second plus. If I compare to any which Linux currently triple-booting on this box, the differences are simply vast.

Explorer

But ... here's the good news. In the process of trying to resolve the responsiveness problems, I scoured the Internet far and wide for any obscure mention of the phenomenon and possible remedies, and I went into the registry, trying to purge any and every nonsense I could find, and there might be a fresh set of tweaks beyond the two I outlined in the guide earlier. I will publish that article very soon, so stay tuned.

Ergonomics

Not good. The system menu remains unchanged from its Dev look, and thus, it's useless, and thus, I'm using the lovely Open-Shell as an alternative, because it's simply faster, cleaner and more efficient. I don't want to see pinned "apps" or pointless recommendations like I'm some IQ85 chimp. I want to see a simple list of menu items, without any shenanigans.

Open-Shell

Similarly, the system tray is useless. If you expand it, it looks bad, and the battery indicator only shows you the percentage, no time. You need to go into Settings > System > Power & Battery to actually see the time left. And then, you realize that Windows 11 is less efficient than Windows 10 and/or any of the Linux distributions that live on my box.

System tray

Power

Notice the battery levels graph - pointless and confusing.

Here's another gem. System notifications. Jumbled, busy, hard to tell apart. Notice the Focus assist settings nonsense showing there, out of the blue [sic]. Not only that, notice the icon. It's a half-moon, sleep icon typically associated with night activities, whereas my system clock surely shows noon time. More than that, the whole focus thing is pointless. If a system is designed not to annoy you with "notifications", then there's no need for any focus, is there? Create an ailment then suggest a fix for it. Cor.

Speaking of pointless, in-yer-face notifications that actually distract the user. The security software drama. Don't want. Then, there's the whole "tap or click" generic message that is confusing. It's tap only if one has a touch screen, which the system ought to be able to detect. Here's another one, if Microsoft actually let savvy users disable Defender easily, simply and forever, there would be no need for any messages of this kind, now would it?

Notifications

I have also removed Edge a couple of months back, because even though it's a decent browser per se, I was getting annoyed with the aggressive non-browser features being bundled into the program for no good reason whatsoever. Having lived through the Internet Explorer frenzy era, I'm not in the mood for another episode of this nature. This also works around the inability to associate protocols with alternative browsers, because if there ain't no Edge installed, it doesn't matter. Sad, but that's how it is.

Conclusion

Very little has changed since Windows 11 Dev Build. The official version plus updates doesn't seem to resolve anything of practical value to me, and I have zero need or patience for shiny gimmicks aimed at the touch crowd and assorted low-IQ mouthbreathers. For instance, the taskbar icon grouping is another regression compared to Windows 10. And let me not get started on the whole TPM and the rest of it.

My only question is what happens in 2025. I believe I will keep one or two unsupported Windows 10 boxes around for non-essential stuff, like gaming, and then move the rest of my workloads to Linux. It will be a compromise in some aspects, but then, I'm glad Windows 11 came around and unshackled me from my dread of having no choice but to stay with Windows, come what may. So far, since Windows 3.11, I've been largely content with the available functionality, but this is it. The spell has been broken. Well, that future eventuality should be an interesting journey of its own. For now, there you have it, my six-month diatribe. That Explorer performance fix article is coming shortly. Take care.

Cheers.

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