Windows 11 - A year and a half later, still meh

Updated: February 13, 2023

It's been a year since I last "blogged" about Windows 11. Yeah, for most of the last year, I simply didn't care enough to bother using my test instance of this operating system, for this or that purpose, or to write any content, for that matter. I let it be, completely apathetic to its look, its appeal, and the future prospect and impact for the wider Windows audience.

Back in the day, I had tweaked the test machine to my liking - I neutered 99% of the Windows 11 annoyances, set the system with Open-Shell, removed a bunch of modern, low-IQ stuff, and then shelved it, as there is really no point or advantage to Windows 11, whatsoever, over its immediate predecessor, and also any other past version of Windows. A few days ago, I decided to power on the triple-boot IdeaPad laptop, chose 11 in the boot menu, let it load, let it update, run a few checks, and then wrote this piece. After me.

Update process

It was relatively fast and uneventful. Windows 11 even notified me that it expects the post-first-boot process to take about four minutes. And lo and behold, it kept true to this promise. The entire sequence took about 15 minutes, and I was logged into a seemingly unchanged desktop.

Now, you do have to remember I've heavily changed the system to make it normal and productive. I use Open-Shell, I've disabled the "new" Explorer, I added quicklaunch icons and custom folder shortcuts, I did a whole bunch of other little tricks and tweaks so that I wouldn't need to battle the nonsense baked into this system. This means I couldn't really see any difference from a year ago. I don't have any of the modern pseudo-touch stuff enabled, and so I don't really care what gives. How it should be, right.

Desktop after update

Explorer

But then, for the sake of it, I did "launch" the real menu. It remains stupid. Since I don't use "apps", there's nothing pinned, so we have one giant waste of space. And the Recommended section is still there, a bulletin board for ads and stupidity and stuff for people who can't spell, which again, since I don't need or want to use, brings no practical value to me. Technically speaking, some 35% of my desktop equity is used by a blank canvas.

Menu

Privacy stuff

By and large, I didn't notice any major changes to my baseline. For some reason, optional diagnostics was turned on, but I can't honestly remember if this was something I had set when testing the Dev releases back in the day, or a genuine annoyance. Elsewhere, I also noticed that Search is configured to show highlights and content suggestions. I can't even begin to express my disdain on this matter.

Optional diagnostics

Search

The system startup wasn't changed, and there were no fresh surprises in this regard:

Startup

Usability

Meh. Nothing special. The right-click context menu remains suboptimal, as you need an extra click to get everything. If you use various non-default tools, then you can have decent productivity, but in general, there's nothing nice or amazing here. And then, what I found rather ridiculous is the insistence, for securi'y reasons of course, apparently, on using Windows Hello (for Microsoft accounts) for sign-in. Wut. Whatever.

Right click

Sign-in options

And then, the creme de la turde

After a reboot, I noticed ... my GRUB menu was gone. The little turdling called Windows 11 had decided to take over the bootloader control and simply removed the GRUB bootloader, which controlled the triple-boot sequence until that point. Restoring it was relatively easy, but not a fun exercise all in all. Booting into Linux live media, changing the root device, reinstalling GRUB. Here, as a bonus joke, I remembered how much I don't like modern software, because GRUB2 is much less flexible for everyday use than the ole GRUB Legacy. The whole writing to EFI partition and all that, just a waste of time really.

Anyway, I restored the triple-boot sequence, and Windows 11 is no longer in charge of the process. The only reason I've not deleted it completely is because I want to keep it around for future testing, so I can warn people of its foibles and pointlessness. Under any other circumstance, I'd instantly delete the Windows 11 partition, then create a blank one, and simply go on with my life. As it is, I'm sacrificing my mental health to write these articles showcasing the steady demise of the desktop as the one sane productivity platform out there. At least if you care about Windows, that is.

Conclusion

To me, Windows 11 remains as pointless as it ever was. The system tray is still a joke, and the inability to customize icons as one ought to is lamentable. In fact, customization overall is a farce, and it extends to almost every corner, including the taskbar, the start menu, the right-click menu, the Explorer, and so forth. The entire system is less efficient, ergonomically, on all levels except the somewhat better UI contrast than Windows 10. But other than that, we're regressing fast and hard.

I didn't really have any expectations, so I can't say I'm disappointed or surprised. Even the GRUB foobar doesn't really faze me. I am now focused on making the transition to Linux by 2025, save perhaps an isolated gaming system that will stay on Windows 10 (without updates of course). Other than that, I will only power this instance on for an occasional update-and-article. Again, whatever. I think we're done here.

Cheers.