Now that Windows 10 has finally been updated and Windows 11 has hit the market people could not have more differing opinions of the new features that have been brought with the latest incarnation of the Windows operating system. We’ll be breaking down everything you need to know about the latest update, as well as what tips there are to get the most out of Windows 11.
Windows 11 has had a staggered release after Microsoft announced that it would be out in October of 2021, and OEMs have taken their time allowing some users to access it. If you have a certain model of laptop, you may have even found that your gaming laptop or 2-in-1 laptop is incompatible with Windows 11 for now.
But if you’re here that’s likely not the case, and we’ll be helping you navigate the new features of Windows 11 as best we can. Let’s not waste any time and dive right into how to use windows 11 on your Android or iOS device.
What Is Windows 11?
Windows 11 is the latest version of the Windows operating system and comes with a new, sleeker look as well as a new taskbar icon, multiple menus, and more apps on the Microsoft Store. Astute-eyed users will notice the distinctly Mac-like interface changes that help the operating system look more refined and minimal. And while some users have expressed a dislike of this feature, we can’t help but enjoy the more immersive graphics that this new operating system presents.
Windows 11 is noticeably better for gaming and video editing and comes with better graphics for games that are built on DirectX 11 or higher. This means more detailed game worlds, the overall integration of the latest gaming technology, and better pc gaming experiences all around.
That’s not all those, and everyone from data scientists to video editors will be happy to hear about the improved multi-tasking experience provided by the Snap Desktop. With the new Snap layouts, you can seamlessly have multiple apps open at a time and swiftly move with file explorer.
The Best & Worst Of The Windows 11 Features
As with every free upgrade that Microsoft has put out, there’s been some features that people love and some that they loathe. We have our own opinions and we’re committed to describing the best and worst of the new Windows 11 features.
Best – Teams Chat Integration
One big win Microsoft has had over the past few years is the introduction of Microsoft Teams. This video conferencing and messaging tool saw a large boost during the pandemic and has remained a staple for modern-day businesses ever since. With Windows 11’s new taskbar, accessing Teams is easier than ever and the go-to for many industries.
And its popularity is unsurprising, Teams has cross-platform integration with Android, MacOS, and iOS so you can communicate with friends, family, or your work team no matter what brand of device they have.
Accessing Teams from the taskbar now allows you to easily choose between Teams Chat and the Team’s video calls application. Communication has never been easier than with the new accessibility features provided by Windows 11.
Best – Android Apps On Appstore
One of our favorite new features of the new Windows 11 update is the ease with which you can run Android apps. Downloading and using third-party apps from Android was possible but more difficult to do before Windows 11, but now the all-new Microsoft store makes it possible to discover Android apps from the Amazon app store.
App developers will also be happy to know that a wider variety of apps are available to be included in the store, including progressive web apps, Wind32 apps, and UWP apps too! Microsoft has increased its capacity, enabling developers to have more freedom overall.
That being said, we’ve seen that installed apps from the store have had a variable performance. Android app integration isn’t as seamless as you might expect, so we’ll have to wait until more updates come out to enjoy our favorite Android apps.
Best – Snap Desktop
Microsoft & Windows have always been pioneers when it comes to customizing the layout of your desktop. How you can open, close, organize, and change your windows has been unrivaled by any other app framework. Apple has recently allowed you to set your windows to take up half the screen (or be split), so they still have a ways to go before they catch up.
With all this in mind, Windows 11 has introduced a new and quick way to lay out your windows – the snap layout! Snap layouts allow you to choose from several presets to organize your windows. Everything from three distinct columns, quad squares, and asymmetrical layouts lets you capitalize on efficiency as you work. Snap groups are absolute winners.
Worst – Fussy Requirements To Update
Transitioning to the features that we’re not happy with, the first that comes to mind are the extremely fussy requirements that your device needs to update to Windows 11.
The requirements to update to Windows 11 are quite hefty, and some are as follows:
Ram: 4 GB
Storage: 64 GB or larger
Graphics card: Compatible with DirectX 12 or later
Display: High definition (720p) display settings
These requirements are a few that determine if your system’s hardware is eligible for Windows 11.
And while these in particular are fairly lax when you look at modern PCs, it’s a few specific hardware requirements that have caused people to be unable to update their PCs. namely that the CPU must be recent, from about the last three years, the PC must have a TPM security chip, and the computer’s firmware must be capable of using Secure Boot.
Worst – Start Menu Is Cluttered & Unusable
The Start Menu for the new Windows 11 is probably one of our least favorite features of the update. Compared to the previous Windows 10 iteration, the Start Menu is fairly cluttered, doesn’t have any easy way of sorting all the apps that populate it, and has lost some of the more quality-of-life additions that were there before.
Instead of variably sized app tiles, the new Windows 11 presents users with a list of suggested and pinned apps. Not only this, they’ve downgraded the number of apps and information within the start menu and left it fairly bare.
The personalized feed powered by Microsoft’s Start Menu lets your look at the weather, maps, stocks, and much more at a glance. That’s been moved and hasn’t been replaced with much to talk about. Sadly this one’s a downgrade.
Worst – Tablet Version Is Worse Overall
The Windows 10 software on tablets like the Surface Go was appreciated by users, there were some issues but overall Windows 10 was great for tablets. With the new features of Windows 11, the Action Center has been removed – which to some was one of the most fluid and convenient ways to navigate the tablet version of Windows.
Although the three new swipe gestures that come with the new update allow you to navigate app icons easier, the old versions found in Windows 10 were better. It’s going to take a Windows update or two for the tablet version to be as good as it can be, but until then you’ll want to avoid the tablet version where possible.
Our Top Tips For Windows 11
Now that we’ve got the breakdown of the best and worst features out of the way, let’s transition over to the top tips we have to give regarding Windows 11 and its new features. Everything you need to know, including Microsoft Teams & Windows Insider Program will be laid out below.
You don’t want to miss this, so open up your laptop and check out our top tips below:
Realign Your Start Button
The recent update for the universal windows app has moved the Start button to the very center of the taskbar. If you’re like us and have gotten used to your Start menu being on the far left, then we’re happy to help you realign it.
Simply right-click on your taskbar, click on the “Personalize” setting, and set your taskbar settings to “Left”. You can also add to your taskbar, such as if you’re planning to create using Cricut Explore Air 2 or Zoom.
Add More To Your Right-Click Menu
A new feature of Windows 11 is the fact that your right click has a more limited range of options right off the bat. You can easily change this by choosing the “Show more options” at the very bottom of the right-click menu, adding more variety to your laptop.
Alternatively, you can permanently change your right-click menu to what it was before by entering it into the Windows laptop registry.
Customize the Look of Windows 11
Customizing the look of your Windows 11 to be your own has never been easier. Open up the Settings app on your Chromebook and head over to the Personalisation page. From there, you’re going to want to either choose from the presets that Windows 11 offers or create your own.
The presets aren’t bad, and cover a nice range of themes. However, if you want to truly upgrade and customize your Windows 11 head over to the tabs that sit underneath and change settings like Background image, Colors, Themes, and Lock Screen to be to your tastes instead.
Set Up Your One Drive
This is an underrated step when you first start up Windows 11 but something that you should keep in mind. Whether you skipped the step when you first updated or are not interested in setting up a OneDrive account, we highly recommend that you ensure your OneDrive is up to date.
You can easily sign into the progressive web app OneDrive while at home and set your sync up to consistently check your devices.
Gather Up Your Widgets
One of the best features that Windows 11 has brought is the wealth of widgets. You can access a wide range of topics with just a touch of a mouse click – weather, sports, stock prices, and even traffic! If you’re planning to complete your to-do list then grab and gather your widgets so you stay on top of things.
You can also customize your widgets, moving them to exactly where you need them to be. Manage your newsfeed through the new and improved Microsoft news features. Grab your Spotify & Teams tools for easy access and seamless integration of your workflow.
Arrange Your Windows 11 Desktop Icons
In the process of updating your device from Windows 10 to Windows 11, your delicate and balance desktop has likely been thrown into disarray. Create Folders and icons, placing them in the right place thanks to the new and improved desktop and start menu so arranging your icons like the Adobe Creative Cloud to be where they were are fairly important.
Windows 11 also has included with it a few bloatware apps that take up space on your taskbar and desktop, so removing those is also key. Actually…
As with every update that Microsoft pumps out, there are pieces of bloatware that are inevitably going to be added to your laptop that you don’t want.
Go to the Programs folder on your device and go to “All Apps”. From there scroll down and see if there are any non-Windows apps that you don’t recognize. These are likely bloatware from independent software vendors who’ve paid Microsoft to add their application to their update in the hope that you’ll pay them for it once the free trial expires.
Add Your Favorite Apps & Web Browser
When you upgrade to Windows 11, your preferences may be reset to the basic third-party widgets and your favorite apps may be removed. One obvious one for example is that Windows 11 will be quite determined to set your browser to Microsoft Edge.
Make sure to always re-add your favorite applications to your PC or laptop, and change your personal preferences (whether it’s your browser, custom settings, etc) to how you like them. There are a lot of important settings that have also likely been changed in the process of Windows updating from 10 to 11, so always ensure that you thoroughly look through your device.
Frequently Asked Questions
We often receive quite a few questions about Windows 11 and some of its newest features, so we’ve compiled all the most common ones here for you to check out and read. We bet that you’ve had some questions floating in your head about elements of the new Windows 11 update, so stick around as we cover them here!
How do I use Windows 11 for the first time?
Great questions. You’ll have to have a laptop that passes all the requirements that have been set out by Windows to do so. Most of these requirements are fairly easy to pass but keep in mind that your PC needs to have a CPU from the previous 3 years or so.
Once that’s been completed, you should be able to use and update Windows 11 for the first time.
What does Windows 11 do for my computer?
Windows 11 offers several new features for you to enjoy, including a new interface, more security features, an updated app framework, and a wealth of new widgets for you to choose from.
Once you customize the design to resemble something you’re more comfortable with and remove the bloatware apps, you should be happier with the Windows 11 software on your PC or laptop.
Does Windows 11 need antivirus?
We recommend that you install a piece antivirus for your device once you update it to Windows 11. While your version of Windows 11 does come with a few antivirus options, they can be bloatware that is trying to entice you to purchase an inferior product.
Download the applications you’re comfortable with when you update your Windows and you should be safe from threats thanks to the newer security features.
That’s about it! We’ve covered everything you would need to know about Windows 11. Make sure to thoroughly dissect our best and worst features of Windows 11, which you may or may not agree with. There is plenty of other features we’ve left for you to discover, so when you update your device to Windows 11, discover which one is right for you!
Writer Graham Grieve brings two decades of technical communications experience to The Holy Tech coverage. Isaac contributes articles on laptops, tablets and PCs, alongside various software and hardware guides. Isaac is a former newspaper journalist who also worked in tech communications for some of the country’s biggest corporations. He also counsels and creates material for other technology publications and hosts a podcast.
Isaac’s in-depth reporting and knowledge of hardware and software issues helps The Holy Tech’s readers learn how to choose the right products, or solve tricky problems.