• Why I leave Windows 11 alone

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    #2592669

    WINDOWS 11 By Will Fastie It’s not that I think Windows 11 is perfect. It’s just that I don’t let it bother me. Too much, that is. Don’t get me wrong
    [See the full post at: Why I leave Windows 11 alone]

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    • #2592723

      I understand your way of thinking. I never used Windows 8 as a daily driver but did use vanilla 8.1 for a long time, no Start menu mods. And it was fine for me. I just unpinned the in-box apps and pinned my own. I always got thrown off when I used another Windows 8.x (or Server 2012) system where someone installed Classic Shell or similar, just threw off my muscle memory.

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    • #2592815

      Agree with you regarding folder spacing in File Explorer.

      But what about Outlook? The folder spacing there is also crazy (too large).

      And then there’s Edge. Favorites in Edge are also spaced too far apart.

      These would seem to be an easy fix, but alas, no.

      1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #2592829

      Will, I generally agree with you about not messing with the way Windows works as an out of the box experience.

      I also share with you the frustration about the way Windows 8.0 operated. In fact, it was at this time that I began to seriously use and learn about Ubuntu Linux. While Unity (the Ubuntu Desktop Environment at the time) shared with Windows the aim of being touch-friendly, Unity did in a much less disconcerting way, and I have used /unity ever since as my preferred DE. When Windows 8.1, and especially Windows 10 came out, I allowed myself to drift back toward using Windows more in my everyday computing life.

      I like the out of the box experience of Windows 10, though some aspects of the UI did take some getting used to. I am not a fan of the App Store or the Start Menu based on the Store, so I just ignore it and use Search to find settings, features and applications I don’t use very often. Windows 11 also is a reasonable OOTB experience, so I use it with only a few modifications. I did move the Taskbar items to the left, and enabled the old right-click menu in File Explorer. I also disabled the ad-heavy features, just as I had disabled Cortana and other ad-heavy features in Windows 10. My System Tray on the other hand, has thinned out as the Windows Search feature has matured. I would like to see system status indicators return to the System Tray Area, but this is probably not a popular sentiment. I have to side with those who see desktop icons as having declining value with the search improvements. I find something similar in Linux, including the increasing capabilities of the Ubuntu Dash.

      So as Windows 12 rises on the horizon, I will probably also limit ads and Copilot AI features, but otherwise leave the OS in nearly Out of the Box condition. If I want to use an OS and a desktop environment more like the original Windows 10 but with a handy sidebar launcher, I’ll use Ubuntu-Unity. If Ubuntu goes full-Wayland and Unity disappears, I will have other Linux DEs to choose from.

      Meanwhile, I think I’ll let Windows be Windows and if I want something completely different, I’ll keep using Linux as my daily driver. I know not all Windows users have this option, but for me, this is what works best.

      My travel laptop is a former Chromebook, which reached the end of Automatic Updates and got converted to Linux. It uses a touch screen. When in a travel environment, there is not usually space to spread out with a full keyboard and mouse, so touch makes sense under those conditions. At home I prefer using the mouse and full keyboard, with colored LED backlights and zoned colors to help guide my typing. But I can understand people who practically live on their smartphones preferring to do as much as possible using touch. What I don’t get is how people came to prefer using their voices as the means to communicate with their devices. To me, this simply does not make sense. And I am basically a verbal person, not a visual person.

       

      -- rc primak

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    • #2592830

      I definitely agree with this perspective.

      I do a little bit differently, but with the same intent. If I’m working on somebody else’s machine, I want to be familiar with their environment, not my own super-tweaked one.

      I’m still living in Win 10 as my daily driver, but I have a couple of Win 11 installations that I have as virtuals that allow me to see what’s there. So far, I haven’t done a lot of fine-tuning beyond what Microsoft provides (although I have a collection of portable apps tools that I have on my LAN for one or two utilities that I really like), but it’s certainly easy enough to designate one of the VMs as something that I pretty much stick to Microsoft preferences on. If I want to do something more experimental, I reserve the second VM for doing that, and where experiments are within the span of what I can save with snapshots. After I’ve experimented, discard all the changes and revert to snapshot, so that the machine h hasn’t evolved past a more mainline setup.

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      • #2592837

        Like many people, I was really annoyed with the right click context menu in windows 11. I actually employed the registry hack which restored the “old” Win10 right click context menu. It took me over a year to notice that the main choices one accesses in the “more choices” new context menu, that is “delete,” “copy,” “cut,” and “paste,” actually appear just under the menu bar in the new file explorer. (This is also file dependent.  For example, “paste” won’t show up if there’s nothing to paste.  “Delete” will not show up if you have “My PC” highlighted.)  And as it turns out, it’s handier to use them rather than the old context menu. If only Microsoft had worked to make this really well known, people would not have complained so much about the new context menu.

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    • #2592858

      This paragraph in Will’s post caught my eye:

      Microsoft’s focus on touch has not abated and will not. Because I’m primarily sitting at my desk with multiple large displays, a full keyboard, and a very comfortable and responsive mouse, I don’t think about touch very often. Thus I become annoyed when I see something change that enhances touch but is detrimental to the way I’ve worked for decades.

      The problem with pushing so hard on touch is that Surface remains but a drop in the Microsoft revenue bucket. If all Surface inventory were to vanish into thin air tomorrow, it would barely register in MS income figures.

      As Ed Bott writes,

      At Microsoft, a division needs to be able to bring in $10 billion of revenue per year to be considered a “needle mover.” Surface once looked like it was on its way to building that kind of steady, growing business. It doesn’t anymore.

      Meanwhile, the user experience of the vast majority of Windows PC users is made harder (certainly more annoying) by the UI changes that Microsoft has persisted in to cater to what to all appearances is a tiny minority.

      The touch tail needs to stop wagging the mouse+keyboard dog.

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    • #2592873

      It’s not that I think Windows 11 is perfect. It’s just that I don’t let it bother me.

      In my experience it is a fine OS, after all the garbage is peeled off, out, and thrown away.  The OOBE for any Windows is the beginning of the end of Microsoft’s box for me.  I had “Libraries” before Microsoft did.  I’ve been using partitions/logical drives since Windows 2000 Pro.

      I have a Music drive, a Pictures drive, an installation files drive, a Utilities drive, a Programs drive, a Web drive (for my site), a Drive Images drive, a Users drive, a Page-file drive, an Archive drive, two Scratch drives for video and audio editing.  Microsoft put “Libraries” into the OS, plugged them into the registry, and they only got in my established way of doing things, so now they are gone, and I still know where everything is.  Movies are on my NAS.

      Windows 11 Pro is a platform where I can do the things I want to do, the way I want to do them.  I am “Out Of the Box” Experienced, and that’s the way I prefer it.  When I click “Save” or “Save as …” the dialog box opens with my preferences, not Microsoft’s Libraries. StartAllBack simplifies the UI and lets me continue to use an XP/7 style Start Menu.

      Microsoft will continue to follow their business model, and I will continue to follow my own OS usage model.  Whenever 13 gets released, I’ll do the same with it.

      Always create a fresh drive image before making system changes/Windows updates; you may need to start over!
      We were all once "Average Users". We all have our own reasons for doing the things that we do with our systems, we don't need anyone's approval, and we don't all have to do the same things.

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    • #2592878

      … Microsoft has persisted in to cater to what to all appearances is a tiny minority.

      Microsoft is not the only company making touch devices, as I mention in the article.

      Ed may be right about Microsoft’s commitment to Surface. As I reported earlier, the loss of Panos Panay is significant. It’s too soon to know for sure. But even if Microsoft decides to get out of the hardware business, touch isn’t going to get out of the hardware.

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      • #2592954

        Will, your reply got me curious to find out how widespread touch-enabled laptops are. Here’s something that turned up in my search results. From the Washington Post:

        The vast majority of laptops sold in the United States — about 80 percent, according to the research firm IDC — are conventional screens.

        In the category of higher-priced Windows computers where touch screens are more common, about 29 percent of new laptops sold above $800 have touch screens. That number hasn’t really budged for years, IDC figures show.

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        • #2592959

          did a quick search at microcenter in PC laptops and looks like 80 out of 240 have touch screen.
          Also since I buy used, and usually from businesses dumping 40 or more of their previous laptops, my bet is stuff like that will have touch screen.

          - Thinkpad P15s Gen1 20T4-002KUS, i7-10510U, UEFI/GPT, 16GB, Sammy 500GB M.2. others. Mint 21.2 Xfce w Vbox-win10. Mint 21.2 Cinn Edge w wine. Win 11 Pro 23H2 WU(local, no Copilot, no Edge). HP laserjets M254dw & P1606dn, Epson 2480 scanner. External monitor Dell S3221QS.

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    • #2592925

      Thanks for the post, Will. A nicely balanced take on Windows 11, especially given your perspective as a journalist writing about Windows from the OOBE experience.

      I imagine in most enterprise environments end-users are also highly constrained by edict rather than choice. IT departments typically don’t want users to be modifying Windows with unapproved third-party apps. They’d likely be restricting users to only official Windows settings.

      Some of us are unrestrained in that regard and are free to tweak the UI, registry, etc. so as to reduce the friction of using Windows in our individual style of work flow. In your roll of reporting on the evolution of Windows “as it is”, my respect to you for reporting from the front line, so to speak. A needed reminder that one size doesn’t fit all. Thank you.

      Win10 Pro x64 22H2, Win10 Home 22H2, Linux Mint + a cat with 'tortitude'.

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      • #2592947

        Excellent post.
        Yes, I quickly went to 8.1 and made it look like 7. I don’t recall thinking about it during 95 and 98. Since then, though, I don’t believe I have used the major Start Menu modifier apps.

        I found that when i went to 11, after I had modded the menu (tiny mod) to default to “all apps”, I realized it looked exactly like what I had been using on 10 and the only mod I had on 10 was “7+ taskbar tweaker” to compress the space between the taskbar icons because, like you, I have over 20. For some reason, they all fit fine on 11 (1080p screen). I have most of the system tray icons showing as well 15) and plenty of room.

        They just did it better in 11. Amazing myself that I can say that! 😉

        Realizing after re-reading this that i believe there was a time a few years ago, in early 10, where I did have menu modified and had to re-install something, and took the time to learn where MS had put stuff in 10, and never looked back. There’s a moral there, as you mentioned!

        I do use the compact view in explorer as I don’t like to do a ton of scrolling just to see what I could see in one page. Easy. A couple other changes. Easy. Very usable. I do not notice a change from 10.

        I shut off touch screen on this laptop (didn’t know it had it till I got it) because sometimes I would touch the screen accidentally or to move it and raise hell with whatever was there. Since I am 30++ years used to using a mouse I don’t think I will try to train myself to change but who knows what the future will bring. Never say never!

        My setup log for win 11 is far less than a page and mostly involves reminders to shut off WuMgr before trying to do an install of the OS else it will just sit there doing nothing. Duh. it is an update!

        So I was very pleasantly pleased by my recent change from 10 to 11. Timing was just right for me and it worked out beautifully 99.99999+% out-of-the-box.

        - Thinkpad P15s Gen1 20T4-002KUS, i7-10510U, UEFI/GPT, 16GB, Sammy 500GB M.2. others. Mint 21.2 Xfce w Vbox-win10. Mint 21.2 Cinn Edge w wine. Win 11 Pro 23H2 WU(local, no Copilot, no Edge). HP laserjets M254dw & P1606dn, Epson 2480 scanner. External monitor Dell S3221QS.

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    • #2592946

      And for those keyboardists who prefer shortcut keys over mousing to an icon, let’s not forget the alternate “Start” menu (Quick Link or WinX or Power menu, actually) that’s almost identical between Win 10 & 11:

      Windows Key combined with ‘X’.

      From there you can type ‘U’ to bring up the “Power” options (plus “Sign out”).  Or ‘N’ for “Settings”, etc…

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    • #2593003

      I imagine in most enterprise environments end-users are also highly constrained by edict rather than choice.

      There’s no doubt about that.

      Some of us are unrestrained in that regard …

      Right again. And that’s one of the great things about Windows – we’ve always had a lot of elbow room to make choices.

      I am currently using an Android phone. I prefer the Microsoft Launcher to the UI provided by Samsung (although the latter is improving). Launcher is, in effect, a replacement Start Menu for an Android phone. Microsoft could easily deploy the app to an iPhone, but Apple does not allow it.

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    • #2593005

      Since I am 30++ years used to using a mouse I don’t think I will try to train myself to change

      For production work, I doubt I will be able to abandon the mouse. But for casual things, touch can be very handy. On Sunday, I connected my laptop to a big-screen TV to watch football games that otherwise would not have been available, and did it all with touch.

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    • #2593007

      let’s not forget the alternate “Start” menu

      When I help family, friends, and neighbors, I find that none know about WinKey+X. Even after seeing it and expressing surprise, they also forget about it.

      I hope Microsoft isn’t listening, because I hate it when they realize a power user feature doesn’t have wide appeal – sometimes such features end up on the cutting-room floor.

    • #2593008

      … my bet is stuff like that will have touch screen.

      Once a manufacturer has fully amortized development and ramp-up costs, it can build components much less expensively. Those savings get passed on down the line.

      Therefore, I think there will come a time when all laptops have touch screens. The billions of people using smartphones use touch exclusively, and they will come to expect it on their other devices.

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    • #2593009

      That number hasn’t really budged for years, IDC figures show.

      If I had a nickel for every time I heard that…

    • #2593010

      It took me over a year to notice that the main choices one accesses in the “more choices” new context menu, that is “delete,” “copy,” “cut,” and “paste,” actually appear just under the menu bar in the new file explorer.

      I will have more to say about the dynamic nature of the context menu. It’s not all sunbeams and flowers.

    • #2593061

      Therefore, I think there will come a time when all laptops have touch screens.

      Wouldn’t surprise me and I would be fine with that. Was thinking as I was drifting off last night that I should turn mine back on and play with it occasionally.(Done!) Always learning has to be our motto!

      - Thinkpad P15s Gen1 20T4-002KUS, i7-10510U, UEFI/GPT, 16GB, Sammy 500GB M.2. others. Mint 21.2 Xfce w Vbox-win10. Mint 21.2 Cinn Edge w wine. Win 11 Pro 23H2 WU(local, no Copilot, no Edge). HP laserjets M254dw & P1606dn, Epson 2480 scanner. External monitor Dell S3221QS.

    • #2593191

      Because touch screens have become fairly ubiquitous, it can lead to another challenge:

      While I enjoy touch screens on mobile devices & am sure they can be useful for desktop monitors as well — if I ever review something on my desktop monitor with a nearby person watching, I hand them one of those voting-machine-style rubber-tipped disposable pens & ask them to please not point with their fingers!  I know the inclination to assume touch screen & don’t want those hard-to-remove smudges on my carefully calibrated, profiled & immaculately clean imaging-monitor, ha, ha.

       

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    • #2593515

      I don’t “tune” Windows 11 (nor did I do so with Windows 10). I don’t write about Windows but I do support my clients’ users and THEY do not have Windows on their machines “tuned”. I need to be able to operate their machines when I have to help them, so my machines need to work the same way.

      I do personalize Windows 11 within the limits of what the OS allows, e.g., putting the taskbar in the left corner. I’ve never had a case of Mac envy and plopping it in the middle of the taskbar makes no sense to me.

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