To help get you started, we've picked the top six features that
deserve at least a closer look. Enough has changed that you owe it
to yourself to check things out. You may discover something new to
like, and if you don't…well, good news is that Microsoft seems to
be listening to feedback these days.
The new Taskbar has a
dramatically different look and layout—and far more restrictions.
Much has changed about the taskbar in Windows 11. All your
pinned and open applications exist as centered icons on the
taskbar, including the Start menu button. It's a bold move after
decades of left-aligned icons and tabs—one that ostensibly has a
mobile friendly vibe, but also potentially a more familiar one to
curious macOS users. Also bold is the more prescriptive nature of
the taskbar. For example, you can't move it to the right or left
sides of the screen anymore, or make it taller—and those aren't the
only personalization options that have disappeared.
You can at least shift the taskbar's icons back to the left side by
fiddling with the settings, but not so for the other changes. For
more details on what's disappeared, read our Windows 11 review.
Like the Taskbar, the
Start Menu has gotten a major overhaul.
The new Start menu is very different than in Windows 10. Gone
are the live tiles—instead you've got a fixed set of simplified
icons under two categories, Pinned and
Recommended. You have little control over how pinned apps
are sorted, nor can you group them like in Windows 10. Nor can you
resize the menu.
This streamlined approach may work for you—or it may absolutely
not. The good news is that for those who hate the new Start menu,
you can use a registry edit hack to force it back to Windows
10's style. Leery of accidentally messing up something in the
registry? You can use a third-party app like Stardock's Start11 to adjust the look.
Windows 11's take on
widgets feels a bit similar to iOS's approach.
Widgets serve as an activity hub for your life's interests. This
enormous card slides out from the left-hand side of your desktop
and shows a mix of news, notifications, and personalized
information that gets pushed to your PC. Like many other elements
of Windows 11, the Widgets drawer isn't resizable, but you can
customize what you see—similar to iOS and its widgets, which also
appear when you swipe to the left of an iPhone's home screen.
Microsoft Teams from the Taskbar could be handy for some folks.
Microsoft's ongoing efforts to push its apps to manage
communication with friends, family, and acquaintances takes the
form of the Chat app (sometimes referred to as Teams Chat) in
Windows 11. Chat puts control over video calls, chats, and more
right on your taskbar—you can use it to mute and unmute people or
even start presenting during a Teams call. The app even allows you
to message anyone with a profile in Teams if you have their linked
email or phone number.
Some folks will see this centralization as a benefit. Others
will definitely not. Love it or hate it, you should at least give
it a whirl. You may find it reduces how much you have to be in the
full Teams application, if you catch our drift.
Windows 11's Settings
is much clearer about what each category covers.
The Settings app has gotten a major overhaul in Windows 11. Not
only do you get more granular control over various aspects of the
operating system, but you can more easily understand what each
category covers and drill down from there. Overall, the interface
strikes a good balance between simple and clear—it's not as
bare-bones as in Windows 10. If you don't like it, you can still
access the legacy Control Panel (thank you, Microsoft), but this
approach to settings may make the new layout worth sticking
Windows 11 may finally
make the MIcrosoft Store appealing to use.
Windows 11 bestows much-needed love upon the Windows Store. PC
fans can say what they will about macOS, but its App Store always
has edged out Windows 10's in function and elegance.
That has changed now. The interface is sleeker and better
organized as a start—and Microsoft has promised a wider array of
available apps that include Zoom, Adobe Creative Cloud, Disney+,
and Microsoft Teams. Leaving a device in Windows 11 S mode may be
more feasible in the near future, which would make remote tech
support much easier.