Windows fans may scoff at any changes to the Start menu. After all, one of Windows 10’s big selling points was that it restored that feature to its former glory after Windows 8 unsuccessfully tried to sell us on a fullscreen Start menu. In actuality, though, the Windows 11 implementation may make more sense today. Like the new Taskbar, it’s all about reducing clutter. I rarely scroll through my entire Windows 10 Start menu anymore, so having a large collection of pinned apps is easier to navigate. And if I’m really in a rush, I can still hit the Windows key and just start typing to quickly search for an app. Microsoft is just easing us into a world where we don’t have to fish around the entire Start menu.
Microsoft also added an ingenious way to snap windows without dragging them at all. Now when you hover over the maximize icon in the title bar, you’ll see a dropdown of potential snapping locations. You just have to hit the one you’d like to get the window into position. Maybe I’m just too much of a Windows nerd, but I think this feature alone will fundamentally change the way I work. I hate manually resizing Windows, and I’ve always found the auto-snapping feature to be a bit clunky.
Honestly, this is also a huge leap ahead of MacOS. For all of its design flourishes, I’ve always found window management on Mac to be absolutely chaotic. Typically, I’ve relied on Apple’s Expose feature to move through all of my windows. Without it, using a Mac is just a pain.
Beyond the Taskbar, Start menu and app snapping updates, there are a few visual updates that modernize Windows 11. Window corners are slightly rounded now, and there are refreshed icons throughout the OS. There’s also a new startup chime and a few other different system sounds, but nothing that feels truly transformative. Still, it’s nice to see a new Xbox app, which gives you direct access to everything on GamePass and the usual Xbox social features. Widgets are back as well, though historically they haven’t been too useful in Windows. We’re still waiting for other major changes, like the revamped Microsoft Store that’s been rumored.
So far, Windows 11 just feels like a big Windows 10 update. I was even able to upgrade an existing Windows 10 installation without issue, and all of my existing apps worked just fine. But remember we’re looking at an early leak of the OS, one that I’m hearing is just showing us portions of an incomplete build. There are bound to be many more features coming. But if Microsoft sticks with the core idea of decluttering Windows and making it easier to use, at least Windows 11 won’t be another Windows 8.
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