Windows 11 is actually 10.0.22449. If Steve Ballmer was still doing the monkey dance, it would most likely be named “Windows 10 Ultimate Extras Edition”. Software versioning has always had a weird, glue-sniffing history. IBM’s OS/2 Warp was 3.x then 4.x before being left on the roadside. How is (or was) an “OS/2” not automatically a version 2.x?
When Windows 8.1 skipped over 9.x to 10.x, the excuse was third party crackhead developers were too dumb or lazy to differentiate 9 from 95 or 98. Because strings are tough, but version numbers are tougher? Autodesk was one of the few companies I can think of who stuck to a consistent version sequence, at least for most of their products. And they weren’t scared of using the superstitious 13 in a version (AutoCAD R13).
For decades, a “major” upgrade meant breaking changes. Significant things were added, removed or modified. But, as with IT job titles, the labels aren’t what they used to be. An “analyst” used to analyze things. Today, it’s just a title and the duties are anything but. The same seems to be true for version numbering. Office 2019 is 16.x, and Windows 11 is 10.x). The marketing folks have taken control of the spaceship.
Anyhow, I digress. Let’s dive into my meaningless list of meaninglessness…
As shocking as it may be: Windows 11 is the next version after Windows 10. It’s supposed to be 1 better, but (so far, to me anyway) it’s about 0.25 better. The most significant changes appear to be in two general areas:
The security improvements in Windows 11 are generally based on a higher bar for hardware compatibility (TPM 2.0, SecureBoot, Intel 8th gen processor, etc.). As far as I can tell, there aren’t any major replacements to the Defender stack that ships in the OS, nor to things like ACLs or accounts.
The comfort improvements in Windows 11 are mostly lipstick, and a spandex girdle, but some of the body parts are in better shape.
What it is
So far anyway, because it’s not scheduled for release until October 5, 2021 (roughly 28 days from now) Windows 11 is an incremental update to Windows 10. It still includes all the legacy stuff that you loved from Windows (pick any version), with some new adjustments. Windows Scripting Host (and VBScript, etc.) are alive and well. Control Panel and MMC are still sitting on the sofa watching TV. Third party apps can still smash your configuration and leave it in a back alley if you allow it.
However, it’s not all doom and gloom. The Settings app has been overhauled, and finally where it should’ve been in Windows 10. I don’t really consider that a “new” feature, but more of a “late” feature. Even though Control Panel is still hiding under the bed. Another nice change is Windows Terminal being the default for the right-click Start menu.
What is isn’t
What it is not… a true “major” upgrade release (IMHO). A major upgrade (IMHO) would be changing major things, like Program Files (x86) and WOW6432Node, start with modern baselines (PowerShell), remove legacy stuff like Silverlight, Windows Scripting Host, and Internet Explorer components. COM and DCOM are still there. The same REGEDIT, CMD, MMC, and related MSC things like EVENTVWR, CERTIFICATES, are all there. To me, 11.0 should bring 100% parity between GUI and CLI (or .NET/PowerShell), but it still hasn’t reached that point.
What I like
- The Settings app is finally what I had expected Windows 10 to get to, but never did
- Terminal replaces PowerShell on the (right-click) Start menu
- The icon themes are cleaner (generally speaking)
- “Copy as Path” on the main right-click menu (no need to hold Shift, etc.)
What I Don’t Like
- Right-click menus are weird. I can’t think of a better word
- PowerShell 5.1 is the default
- TLS 1.2 is still not the default
- Taskbar right-click is USELESS unless you’re within the icon stack area (wasted potential)
- It still relies on Windows Scripting Host for things like slmgr.vbs and ospp.vbs (Office) among other things
- Control Panel is still hiding under the bed
- Internet Explorer is deprecated, sort of, but also hiding under the bed with Control Panel, sort of
Right-click taskbar could show what Windows 10 does, but doesn’t.
What I was hoping for
The following items are still on my wish list for an imaginary real major upgrade, if it happens in my lifetime:
- Start with latest/current API items:
- .NET, PowerShell, Nuget, PowerShellGet, etc.
- Remove 32/64-bit distinctions
- Remove spaces in core folder names: “Program Files” –> “ProgramFiles” or just “Apps”
- Update basic apps like:
- Notepad: line numbers, circular find/replace
- REGEDIT: “Script As” > “Create”, “Delete”, etc. (using PowerShell, a la SSMS)
- Explorer: Move Defrag, CheckDisk, Sharing, Permissions to the right-click menu
- Mail: Yes, the weird store app, doesn’t follow the same UI motif as anything else. Maybe it should look a little bit like Outlook.com? I know, that’s a dumb thought.
I respect the complexity of both Windows as a product, and the Windows platform as an ecosystem, present themselves to Microsoft when it comes to steering that ship. The impact it has on customers, partners, vendors, developers, and more, has to be challenging. Kind of like Justin Bieber trying to go shopping at a downtown mall without any bodyguards.
However, when I watched Panos deliver that heartfelt monologue, sans John Williams music score, I expected a tectonic shift would be coming. This is more like a table bump. Why not just call it “Windows 10+” or “Windows 10.1”? It’s about as significant of a change as Windows XP going to SP2 (remember the firewall changes?) This feels, to me at least, more like a service pack combined with a feature pack, than a “major” upgrade.
I’m admittedly sounding a bit negative, I admit, even though I already admitted that. But, I need to be clear about why. It’s not the product itself, it’s the expectation vs. delivery. The product itself looks and feels rock solid, to me. The marketing hype always makes me cringe, because (and I’m no Apple fan) it seems like the trend is to position every new announcement like Steve Jobs would have done it, maybe with some orchestral string swells to add some drama. But there’s more to that than just playing the part, you have to clear the checklist too. I just hope that the next incremental update (which is what this really is) isn’t going to be called Windows 12, but 11.x (if the version number ever gets to 11.x).