Five important things Windows 11 has yet to deliver
After a year of hype and operating system updates, which promises did Microsoft break?
With everything that’s been going on in the world, it may seem hard to believe… that it’s been over a year — give or take a few days — since Windows 11 were officially unveiled to the public. Microsoft’s latest operating system has since been on a wild ride, initially looking promising, then confusing consumers with the whole system requirements issue, following a rather questionable path towards completion and launching in a rather unfinished state. Interest in Windows 11 has largely died down since then — most of the early adopters have upgraded while almost all cautious users that can upgrade seem to remain on Windows 10 — and Microsoft is now just updating the OS regularly, fixing problems and bolstering security.
There is still a number of promises Microsoft made about Windows 11 from the very beginning, though, that the company has failed to keep even to this day. Different people will care more about some of these promises than others, but they are all important and Microsoft has not — so far at least — shown any interest in addressing these issues or even officially sharing a development timeframe for them. Needless to say, this does not look good: at the end of the day, when one is presented with things he/she should be expecting of a product, he/she actually expects them to be delivered within a reasonable amount of time. In no particular order, then, these five stand out.
Faster boot, restart, wake from sleep and shutdown times
This was one of the few specific things mentioned during Microsoft’s reveal of Windows 11 last year and it’s now clear that the company wasn’t talking about the quality of its code at all. It was talking about the expectation that new PCs designed in a modern, smarter way — such as those based on Intel’s and AMD’s latest chipsets and processors — would take advantage of specific Windows 11 software routines to work in a more performant way in general.
PCs based on Windows 10 that migrated to Windows 11 show no real, discernible improvement to speak of in any of those four areas, so… yeah: depending on one’s interpretation, this is either a half-truth or a carefully presented lie. Talking about “faster boot, restart, wake and shutdown” implies “faster than what we got up until now on the same hardware” (i.e. because of better code), not “faster because new, modern systems will be faster at those things anyway”, no?
Streamlined Windows updates
Another specific promise made that seems to not have been kept at all (even on modern PCs). Windows 11 were supposed to deliver updates in a less disruptive fashion, install them faster and generally handle the whole process better than how Windows 10 does. To most people though — certainly to yours truly who, with a heavy heart, finally gave in and upgraded one of his Windows 10 PCs to Windows 11 just to be able to write about the latter based on first-hand experience — it seems that nothing has actually changed in practice. Certainly not in terms of regular updates and everyday use.
Cumulative updates seem to be taking the same amount of time and require a restart just like Windows 10. Almost all hardware driver updates do the same. Urgent, critical security updates understandably need a restart too. Microsoft Defender definition updates or malicious software removal tool updates do not, but then again they do not on Windows 10 either. Other updates like the ones for the .NET Framework still require a restart… most of the time, for some reason (Windows 11 infuriatingly insists on installing previews of those updates too without the PC in question participating in the Insider Program). So where’s the actual improvement over what one gets with the latest versions of Windows 10? Unless Microsoft compared the initial version of Windows 11 to the initial, 2015 version of Windows 10, in which case… yeah (sigh).
A superior gaming experience
This one is kind of funny because it started out as one of the most interesting areas of improvement for Windows 11… only to fizzle out in the months prior to the product’s release. Microsoft had promised practically everything: that PC gamers should expect higher performance, new technologies under the hood, as well as new features available exclusively through its new OS. So how did all this turn out? Well, for starters, performance-wise there are no discernible differences to speak of in the vast majority of games running on Windows 10 and Windows 11 on the same hardware. Any differences detected can go either way. So no real Windows 11 advantage there.
DirectX 12 Ultimate and AutoHDR, two much-talked-about, key gaming technologies, ended up being available for Windows 10 too, as long as the necessary hardware is present in a PC based on either Windows version. Even the one technology that was supposed to need Windows 11 in order to work, DirectStorage, is also compatible with Windows 10 and it’s only “built-in optimizations” that can make a difference in DirectStorage performance between the two OSes. We won’t even know about that, actually, until a DirectStorage-compatible PC game running on both Windows 10 and Windows 11 gets released and tested on similar hardware. So much about that “superior gaming experience”, huh?
Third-Party widget support
When Microsoft first unveiled the Widgets feature and the area where they’d reside on the Windows 11 desktop, people were both curious and doubtful: Windows 7 had tried to do something along those lines all the way back in 2009 and spectacularly failed for a number of different reasons, after all. Would this second attempt be any different? When the first beta versions of the new OS were released it became clear that, at the very least, these widgets would not use as many system resources or look comically designed and misaligned with the rest of the user interface as their Windows 7 “Glass” counterparts did. But it also became obvious that the first widgets offered by Microsoft itself were of such limited functionality, of such little value, that the whole feature was practically pointless.
Since the tech behind these widgets is sound, the solution to this problem was obvious: let developers other than Microsoft offer their own widgets, bringing that much-needed variety and extended functionality to this Windows 11 feature. Yet here we are, at the end of July 2022, still waiting for Microsoft to deliver on this promise it made before Windows 11 even launched. There’s still a vague “2022” timeframe for this, mentioned a few times by a handful of outlets, but it’s exactly this kind of corporate behavior — making a lot of fuss about something and then delivering it either too late or not at all — that Microsoft critics have had enough of. Who can blame them?
Improved multimedia peripherals management
Another promise that felt timely and important (when it was first made) was supposed to address the inability of Windows 10 to properly, easily and intuitively set up and manage multiple PC peripherals other than mice or keyboards: specifically, peripherals such as cameras and webcams (not the same thing), microphones and headsets. During the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, when millions of people had to work from home, the clunky way Windows 10 forced users to choose between devices or disable some of them in order for others to function, was widely slammed… and rightfully so.
Microsoft saw an opportunity there — in truth, a long-standing issue that could not remain unresolved any longer — and promised to offer a new control subsystem for multimedia devices of that type, which would allow for much easier management or even simultaneous operation of similar such peripherals on the same PC. Well, more than a year after that promise was made, we’re still expecting Microsoft to keep it — but there’s no specific timeframe for it nor is there any mention of it in the current release notes of the much-discussed Windows 11 22H2 update coming in the autumn.
There’s more… but fixes should probably come first
These are five areas where Microsoft promised real progress and improvements in Windows 11 over Windows 10 and simply didn’t deliver — either on launch or during the first 6 months of the new operating system’s life. Some people may claim that the most important thing in day-to-day use, better system performance overall, was promised but not offered by Windows 11 either. Others will probably note that there’s a whole list of current Windows 11 issues — from UI inconsistencies and control scheme problems to usability fixes and functions still in beta — that need addressing before the company can start adding new features to its OS.
That might be true but, in any case, promises are promises and not being kept by one of the richest tech giants in the world is embarrassing. Better underpromise and overdeliver with Windows 12, Microsoft. It might be better this way for everyone involved.