Windows 11 Pro - A Layman's Review

Discussion in 'Windows OS and Software' started by Gumwars, Oct 31, 2021.

  1. Gumwars

    Gumwars Notebook Evangelist

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    So, for reasons I can't properly articulate, I went ahead and upgraded to W11 about 5 days ago. I'm going to go over how that went and what the aftermath of that decision has been. Without further ado...

    Upgrade vs. Clean Install

    Every time I've attempted an OS upgrade with Windows, it has ended in disaster. Win7 to Win8 = ended up broken and had to do a clean install anyway. Win8 to Win8.1, same. Win8 to Win10, broken, ended up with another clean install. I fully expected this to end up the same and actually was planning on breaking the RAID0 have set in this particular laptop (see signature) and go with a dual boot Win10/Endeavour OS.

    Surprisingly, that didn't happen. The upgrade took a very long time, like several hours, but when the dust settled, what remained has been stable with no problems to mention. Unlike past upgrade attempts, this one worked as it was supposed to.

    The Philosophy of a Subjectively Good OS

    My tastes in what I want my machine to do or be capable of has shifted over the years. What I absolutely require is stable operation with no crazy hassles. Stable to me is zero BSODs for a Windows-based machine or no crazy hoop-jumping to get basic peripherals to work with a Linux install. It seems a fairly low hurdle to clear, but Dell and Microsoft seem, from time to time, to conspire in testing our collective patience. Aesthetics aside (which I'll touch on in a bit), the OS appears to be solid. I've had no system instability events to speak of, there have been several updates (almost daily) since I upgraded and nothing has raised a flag indicating a bigger problem brewing under the surface. Even the regular KERNELBASE.dll AWCC crashes I'm used to have slowed down.

    Performance

    So, I don't have any benchmarking tools at the ready as I type this. I will give it a look tomorrow and post what I find in this thread but I do have my handy Mk.2 seat-o-meter that's been calibrated by nothing more than my imagination. The system feels more responsive, in particular on boot and when going through menus. The system starts quicker, by a few seconds, and by that I mean it doesn't linger on the POST screen as much as it used to. I get to the login screen faster and from there things feel similar to what I've come to expect from my machine.

    I am curious to see if any of the benchmarks will show a change.

    UPDATE: I've run R20, yCruncher, CPUz, and wPrime to see if there are any changes. R20 was within a 1% or so of what it ran under W10 but was slower. Every other bench reflected W11 appears to be holding the hardware back.

    Menus

    This is where the problems for me start. I'm a big fan of efficiency and when you add clicks to something, that's never a good thing. Windows 11 puts more menus in the way of tasks that were simpler in Windows 10. One that comes to mind immediately is if you are a 7zip user. That application adds a contextual menu entry to your right-click when looking to extract an archived file. It worked just fine in Windows 10 but under 11, you first open the contextual menu and then open another "more options" selection that...returns you to the original menu found in Windows 10. I do like the font used in the new contextual menus but why they don't let 3rd party applications create entries is beyond me. Another peeve is the absolute nonsense facing a user that doesn't agree with Microsoft's conclusion that Edge is the best browser ever. Before it was as simple as setting a different default browser. Now, you get to change about a dozen or so file associations so that when you click a hyperlink in your email it doesn't open the wrong browser.

    I get it Microsoft, you really think your ecosystem is the best. That doesn't mean you make it increasingly difficult to switch. I can really see someone that isn't savvy giving up and using Edge out of fear of breaking something.

    Conclusion

    Windows 11 isn't the satan. It isn't an improvement, but it isn't absolutely awful either. I find some of the changes to be clear detractors while others, like the inclusion of Power Toys fancy zones, to be a welcome addition. The graphical changes are really whatever to me. I don't find them insulting, but it isn't some step into the future move with the UI. I believe that you won't die when 2025 comes around and we all start getting forced to this OS but I can't help but revisit some of what I said in other posts about W11 either; this was a missed opportunity for Microsoft. They could have moved the tech community in a direction that is decidedly not Apple and potentially bring something to market that is truly remarkable. Instead, we get a new pack of stickers on an old OS. On the bright side, at least the upgrade didn't break anything.
     
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  2. StormJumper

    StormJumper Notebook Virtuoso

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    Didn't break but it did break from the Win10 GUI looks. So the word "Break" could mean more then one thing. I looked at some online screen shot and it looks horrible. Why does one need more stuff under the main icons for.
     
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  3. Gumwars

    Gumwars Notebook Evangelist

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    Some other observations:
    • No loss of Throttlestop - I know some users have reported that WSL2 and hypervisor settings break Throttlestop, I don't have WSL2 active with hypervisor on. I can still use VMs in VMware Workstation Player without any noticeable issues
    • I've encountered a small bug with the WiFi settings widget - from time to time it won't pop up from the taskbar and appears to get stuck slightly off screen. This is more of a hassle rather than a showstopper - you can still adjust your network settings through the main control panel
    • Bluetooth stopped working after coming out of sleep. It's only happened once but seemed odd after months of no issues. I updated the AX200 driver to the one Intel lists as supporting W11 and will see if it comes back
    • The KERNELBASE.dll error that plagues the AWCC.exe process has apparently stopped after upgrading to W11. I've reinstalled W10 three times on this machine (for various reasons) and haven't been able to get rid of it until now. The problem sometimes takes a few days to pop up, so I'm not holding my breath. We'll see what happens
     
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  4. Gumwars

    Gumwars Notebook Evangelist

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    Experienced my first BSOD which was triggered after installing drivers for my HTC Vive. WhoCrashed identified issues in the Window kernel, though the problem has not popped up since, does seem to indicate what most of you here already know; this was a rushed deployment.

    Granted, the hardware ecosystem with PCs is massive and while I can't immediately fault the team at MS for dropping the ball on every driver implementation, I can point the finger at them for not giving us better tools to help them with their product. Open source has been proven to be a valid model for operating systems as a product, paid for or otherwise. It's out of scope for me to rant about that here, I dislike the idea of being told this is a finished work when it clearly isn't, and being used as an "in the wild" test bed because Microsoft doesn't want to shell out for a proper test team.
     
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  5. Gumwars

    Gumwars Notebook Evangelist

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    Some other musings:
    • Haven't noticed a change in battery life; I'm still using Throttlestop and the tricks found on this forum to improve time away from the socket. Those tips are still working with W11
    • The taskbar retrofit, specifically removing task manager from the contextual right-click menu, is batshit lunacy. I want to sit down with the developer that decided on that change and slap him/her silly. You can work around it, but dammit, that's just a stupid change
    • The search function feels snappier. While the start menu is subjectively worse in how stuff is laid out, and removing the ability for us to create groups is also worse, the search function is very fast that acts as an inoffensive stand-in for the botched job the start menu has become
    In fact, I was running Open-Shell to keep a W7 look to my OS, even after the upgrade to W11 but disabled it because of how long the search had become through that interface. The native search dialog is a positive for W11.
     
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  6. ZaZ

    ZaZ Super Model Super Moderator

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    I might try it on my notebook before installing on my desktop.
     
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  7. Gumwars

    Gumwars Notebook Evangelist

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    It's meh. Unoffensive. Some stability issues but largely nothing new from M$. I've had nothing truly abhorrent happen since the upgrade, but if you take the plunge, StartAllBack is a must-have for any W11 install. That fixes some of the bigger issues I ran into.
     
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  8. Papusan

    Papusan Jokebook's Sucks! Dont waste your $$$ on Filthy

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  9. Gumwars

    Gumwars Notebook Evangelist

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    You said it best, it really is a wonder this OS boots at all. That is one hell of a bug fix list and I bet there is an even bigger one for the bugs that are still outstanding.

    In the near two weeks that I've had W11 running (and the OS I'm using while typing this) it isn't awful, but it isn't anything great either. I did a little dive into the VBS (Memory Integrity) feature to see if I could test the performance hit that function supposedly brings to the table. Seeing how Intel is pushing Microsoft to have it enabled by default perked my curiosity; why would a CPU vendor want a function turned on that actually hurt performance? Whatever this virtual enclave is, it seems important that we explore it because whatever exploit Intel appears concerned about is worrisome enough that they are willing to sacrifice dominance over rivals for security.

    So, I tried turning this feature on. Turns out I can't for a couple of reasons. First, apparently all Intel CPUs older than 11th gen can't run it. I haven't had that reason flag officially as the reason my W11 install won't turn this tidbit on. The built-in checker is telling me that 5 drivers are to blame. Apparently the Saitek HOTAS flightstick I use for DCS has a driver that is no bueno. The other ones are all innocuous but I guess are configured so they can't use the VBS as it was designed. From what I've read, if you buy a PC with W11 installed by the OEM or if you clean install it, VBS is turned on by default. The feature exists in W10, but is turned off because of the performance problems M$ is aware it creates.

    Getting closer by the minute to pulling the plug on this and going with Linux. Just not PopOS.
     
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  10. Papusan

    Papusan Jokebook's Sucks! Dont waste your $$$ on Filthy

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    And it will be only worse.... Microsoft try as hard they can to make you more fed up with Win 11
    http://forum.notebookreview.com/threads/best-internet-browser-2020-2021.832782/page-16#post-11128842

    A short review from the post... Microsoft blocks EdgeDeflector to force Windows 11 users into Edge
     
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2021
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