Windows 11 review (by Tom's guide)
Windows 11 is simpler and more streamlined, but it's also not finished.
(By Alex Wawro)
Windows 11 has arrived, and with it comes Microsoft’s vision for the future of personal computing. This is a softer, more rounded Windows, one that puts the Start menu front and center while doing away with some of the cruft that cluttered up Windows 10.
But while Windows 11 does introduce some welcome improvements, many are so subtle you probably won’t notice them unless you’re specifically looking. And even the changes that do grab your attention — like the newly centered Start button — tend to fade into the background with remarkable speed.
But perhaps that’s part of the plan. Microsoft is pitching Windows 11 as a safer, more performant Windows that’s simple to use, with a welcoming design that’s meant to make using your PC for work and play easier than ever. If moving from Windows 8 to Windows 10 was a minor revolution, moving to Windows 11 is a refinement.
And since just about every Windows 10 user with a qualifying machine will have the chance to upgrade for free, the only thing most of us have to do is decide whether the revamped design of Windows 11 is worth the hassle of upgrading. To help you make that decision for yourself, read on for our full Windows 11 review. And if you've already upgraded, you could check out our guide on how to speed up Windows 11.
Windows 11 review cheat sheet
A recent Windows 11 update is causing Start menu problems for many users — but a design change, not a bug, is mostly to blame.
Beware: Windows 11's data wipe tool can leave personal info behind on the hard drive, so if you're going to sell a Windows PC and you reset it back to factory defaults, double-check there's no "Windows.old" folder hanging around full of old files.
Preview builds of Windows 11 are getting Start menu folders, a revamped Task Manager, new touch gestures and the return of folder previews in File Manager and drag-and-drop abilities on the Taskbar.
Windows 11 will get worse about nagging users on unsupported PCs, so expect to see more little warnings popping up when your PC isn't up to snuff.
Windows 11 is finally getting more Android app support in February 2022, when Microsoft will roll out a preview of native Android apps to all Windows 11 users in the operating system's first major update.
Windows 11 has a more inviting and streamlined look, with rounded corners and a new Start menu that's front and center. Microsoft is continuing to update and streamline it -- the latest Windows 11 update finally axes ugly volume UI, for example.
New Desktops feature helps you set up multiple desktops for work and play.
New Snap Assist and Layouts make it easier to manage multiple windows on your screen.
Windows 11 widgets are fine if all you care about is the news, weather and your calendar, but at launch there aren't many others available and what's here is barebones.
Auto HDR and DirectStorage will improve game performance — if you have compatible hardware.
Steep system requirements mean most PCs built before 2018 are out of luck.
Native Android app support and other features missing at launch. However, Windows 11 users can now beta test Windows 11 Android app support — here’s how.
Google plans to launch a Google Play Games app for Windows 10 and 11 in 2022, opening the door to all Android games on Windows 11.
Windows 11 is blocking Microsoft Edge blockers.