Windows 11 review

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Does it help reduce and unify?

Like them or hate them, nobody understands workflow and custom user settings like Microsoft.  Windows 11 dropped in October.  I wanted to wait a little while to monitor the known issues and health status before sharing my thoughts. 

Some folks refer to an operating system as shell and kernel, whereby the kernel is the heart and core that manages operations and bridges the resources for delivery to the shell, also known as the User Interface or User Experience.  Windows 11 focuses heavily on shell improvements, and from my perspective, support for the remote worker.

We are already seeing MSFT Fluid making its way into TEAMS meetings by way of versioning, whiteboard, OneNote and other real-time sync / collab tools that allow for meaningful work for distributed teams.  As this progresses, we’ll see more companies recognize the value and adapt custom, low-code solutions via Power Automate.  Enough about the future – let’s talk about right now.

Back to Windows 11. 

Windows 11 is a shell update chock full of user preferences and setting changes.  When I look across the 20+ new features, I see an emphasis on supporting the remote-first company who has already leaned forward with MS365 tools to remote manage and support their distributed teams.  Here are my top 5 as measured by our mantra Reduce and Unify:

  1. Pin Apps for Accessibility – “Quickclicks”   – users can set only the apps they use for work and hide the rest.  Single click or auto start apps can appear on the traditional desktop configuration or along the bottom task bar.  They can also automatically open in a predetermined area of your screen – which leads me to #2.  Score one for REDUCE.
  2. Snap Layouts – In the world of commercial design, I would relate these to ‘typicals.’ Essentially, snap layouts allow you to establish screen real estate to different, pre-determined windows.  For multi-screen users – this is helpful if you’ve dedicated one screen to one task, and another screen to another task.  It organizes your windows so you don’t have to move, resize, or reshape on the go.  Super helpful.  Score one for UNIFY.
  3. Multiple Desktop – This takes snap layouts to a different level.  Essentially, multi-desktop does exactly what it sounds like it does – creates additional computing space.  The best example I can give is if an executive has multiple roles – accounting, marketing, and HR – each of those roles can have their own desktop with supportive apps.  It allows the user to compartmentalize their thoughts into buckets….each bucket containing all the tools necessary to support that function. Score another for UNIFY.
  4. Personalized Start Menu – It’s exactly what it sounds like.  As Cloud Service Providers, we can set up customized machines that have work-specific start menus.  There are some settings that traditional users can manipulate, but most of these settings are enterprise level .json files best left to the kernel guys.  Score one for REDUCE and UNIFY.
  5. Sound / Network / Video Controls in one place. Clearly this update is coming as response to the boom in video conferencing.  No call is complete without hearing, “You’re on mute” or “hang on, let me check my camera settings.”  Sometimes the simplest change makes your life easier.  Score one for UNIFY.

There are a lot more features in Windows 11 including HDR settings for enhanced gaming and videos, the ability to hide desktop icons and declutter new mouse click options, and creative new web widgets. That said, and as with every new Windows iteration, it doesn’t come with immunity to new security threats, so I’m hanging tight with 10 at Orion Growth.  The security pros have a lot to work out. The reality is that the world’s largest operating system is also the world’s largest target to hackers. Zero-day threats are plentiful and honestly, I don’t think (opinion here) we can fix security issues with software patches anymore.  That’s a different article entirely and one best left to the bright-minded, kernel-specific, cyber hacks of the world.

Parting thought:

Windows 11 is shell-specific and slants heavily towards custom user interface/user experience settings.  MSFT appears to be directly responding to feedback data from knowledge workers who are already using their productivity solutions. For the foreseeable future, workers will remain in remote settings, further requiring self-guidance and navigation of custom settings.  Sharepoint, Teams, Power Automate, and the Office Suite that makes up MS365 has the tools to support remote-first companies.  Now it’s up to those companies to figure out what they want to automate, and how they want their workspace to function.  One thing is for sure – work has shifted from a noun to a verb, and MSFT is giving the world a platform to do it from anywhere, re-writing security requirements from the ground up.

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