Windows 11 is still totally useless

Updated: October 28, 2023

I keep a copy of Windows 11 Home on my IdeaPad 3 test laptop. Not because I like it or want it, but because I am keen to know what Microsoft has in store for the desktop users. I like to test and tinker and rant, and after all, the laptop already came with a Windows license, so I might as well make the best use of it. My impression of this operating system has been less than lukewarm. There's no point to Windows 11. We're not in the 90s where system updates are big and amazing and meaningful. Nah. It's all pretty much the same.

By and large, when I take into account all the different factors, like the not-really-necessary TPM requirement and such, plus the overload of ads and silly features and degraded responsiveness in the UI, for me, it's quite fair to say that 11 is the new Vista. And now, I've had another round of testing done after a long lull, so let's see what happened.

First order of the day: updates

As you can expect, there were lots of patches waiting. I'm also running the system as part of the Insiders program, so I get the "preview" of what the common consumer will use a few months from now. By and large, this part of the experience went extremely smoothly. The update itself was super-quick. Perhaps 10 minutes in total, plus a single reboot. This is a huge improvement over what used to be a seemingly endless loop of reboots, waiting, downloads, and such. Furthermore, my privacy settings were correctly retained.

After the update

The one thing Windows did change - a silly Search box added. Miss me with that.

Second order of the day: turning nonsense off

The beauty and elegance of the update cycle is marred by the post-install experience. Now, my Windows 11 setup is already extremely customized and tweaked. I use Open Shell as my start menu because I completely and utterly detest the new start menu with its non-removable Pinned apps and Recommended sections, the automatic download of pointless apps for low-IQ people, and such.

I also run the system with a local account, standard account to boot, tons of stuff neutered and removed, new File Explorer disabled (because it is slow and pointless), Edge completely disabled, and then some. Even so, after the update, Windows still managed to annoy me. I activated the real menu just to see what gives, and indeed, Windows had "pinned" placeholders for a slew of useless apps that I don't want or need.

Pinned apps nonsense

Just look at that list. Look at those pointless, pointless apps.

I had purposefully removed all and any pinned apps, and yet, the system feels it needs to override my UI choices. Nope, won't allow it. Then, there were tons of notifications about app updates and such. I then noticed that some of these apps cannot be removed (like Xbox) through Settings > Apps. Funnily enough, I have all of the Xbox services disabled, so the app cannot work, and yet, you cannot remove it using the standard, non-nerdy methods. This was another insult to my intelligence and freedom as a user.

Notifications

Identity Provider? Really? Check it out how?

Third order of the day: Winget, Winaero Tweaker to the rescue

Push, shove. I decided I had enough. So I chose to totally gut the system of all and any trace of its pseudo-modernity, as much as possible without totally breaking the system. As it happens, Windows 11 ships with a command-line utility called winget, a lightweight package manager that lets you install and manage applications. I reviewed it some three years ago. 'Tis very nice, practical. So yes, install, manage. Oh but wait, it can also remove applications. Ah, very important indeed.

I launched a command prompt (called terminal now or some such, because change = progress), and elegantly, pruned all of the Store apps, including the Store itself. I only kept Notepad, Clock, Calculator, Paint, and Terminal itself. Everything else, gone. Bye bye.

Winget app removal

I repeated the action with Winget until there was no more nonsense left. Even the app names are annoying.

I then powered on Winaero Tweaker, which is another highly useful tool for Windows disciplining. It allows you to really undo the low-IQ stuff. Again, it's an essential utility for the intelligent desktop experience [sic], and I've used it occasionally when I didn't feel like doing too much registry stuff myself.

The main reasons for invoking it during this test slash review were:

Indeed, the tool delivered. But then, I decided I might go all the way. I enabled Classic full context menus, Classic taskbar, disabled background apps, disabled ads, anything I could to make Windows 11 not be slow and useless.

Tweaker 1

Tweaker 2

A reboot later, my system was utterly transformed:

Classic taskbar, icons configuration

Control Center

The slow and inefficient Control Center is still there as a cogwheel, but you can not use it.

Tweaked, WIP, small fixes left

Tweaked properly

No more ads in Settings

Conclusion

Weird article, innit? But what does it show? Ha. It shows that 1) Windows 11 is just Windows 10 with extra annoyances, more ads, cloud, all of that hyperactive modern and unnecessary stuff 2) Windows 11 can work fine if it's relieved of its useless parts 3) I had to fight the system, and because of the over-aggressive use of modern nonsense, I went much farther than I otherwise would have. Gimme a simple system, I tinker not. Gimme a system that tries to make me look like an idiot, I'll fight back.

But overall, if you think about, what real, day-to-day value does this operating system bring? None. Back in the day, Windows 7 delivered a much better 64-bit support over XP. Great. Since ... nothing really. The pace of meaningful development in the tech world has slowed down. A laptop from 2010 is like a laptop from 2020, with maybe a bit faster processor and much faster storage. Consequently, the software is also pretty the same, and/or needs not change. There isn't anything major at play. There's no software revolution, no great progress. Which is what one expects from a mature platform, and which is why there's no point whatsoever to the modern mentality of fast fast fast, break break break, software changes for the sake of it. Or to Windows 11. The differences, compared to Windows 10, are tiny. Really tiny. A slightly redesigned UI, XP window borders instead of the flat ones, a redesigned Settings app. That's it.

Then, if you think about it, there was no reason for the flat UI or Settings to begin with either, which is what I noted in my Windows 10 review years ago. 'Twas and still is very much like Windows 7. Having yet another, third, almost identical system brings no value. And then, when you add all of the ads and noise and wasted mouse clicks, I don't see why one should bother with Windows 11. But if one must, then you can cleanse and purge all of the wasteful stuff, and have a semblance of a normal, sane operating system. We're done here.

Cheers.