It ain’t over ’til it’s over. That’s what I was thinking anyway as I was watching Microsoft’s “Introducing Windows 11” livestream a short time ago. The phrase “Windows 11 brings us closer to the things you love,” spoken earnestly by the presenter, caused me to groan and roll my eyes, but I put that nonsense aside and tried to focus on the details being revealed concerning the new platform. And there weren’t a heck of a lot of them — at least as far as the IT professional is concerned. And you can observe a lot by watching.
Much of what was shown in the presentation was consumer-oriented. Things like new themes, widgets, fresh icons, softer visuals, more transparency, enhanced touch capabilities, a brand-new Microsoft Store, and so on. Frankly, none of these things get me excited anymore. In fact, the last version of Windows whose GUI got me excited was Windows 95. So when I see these kinds of bells and whistles, I take them with a grain of salt. Microsoft says Windows 11 will be a free upgrade that will roll out for “eligible Windows 10 PCs” before the end of the year. (For deep dive into Windows 11 features, check out the article by my colleague Sukesh Mudrakola.)
Then there are the so-called productivity improvements that supposedly business users have been longing for — at least while they’ve been working remotely from home because of the pandemic. I’m referring to things like moving the Start menu to the center of the screen, snap layouts for keeping multiple open apps better positioned in place, new docking and undocking capabilities that provide an improved multi-monitor / multi-device experience, the ability to assign a custom wallpaper to each desktop you open and use, and so on. It’s all so exciting (yawn). Isn’t Microsoft familiar with the current research that says multitasking degrades productivity rather than enhances it? Having multiple virtual desktops each crowded with multiple apps opened on them and widgets sitting everywhere winking on and off, is anathema as far as I’m concerned when it comes to utilizing computing devices for business purposes. In the real world — the world of business where productivity actually matters — nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.
Window 11: Where are the improvements for business?
As an IT professional, what really matters to me is how I can deploy, maintain, manage, support, and troubleshoot Microsoft Windows in the company or organization I work for. And the presentation I watched today told me nothing about any improvements Microsoft has made in this area concerning Windows. And as those of us who work in IT very well know, improvements in the reliability and maintainability of Microsoft Windows are greatly needed.
Take for example the upgrade we did a while back from Windows 10 version 2004 (20H1) to 20H2. Our infrastructure is small here and, fortunately, we didn’t experience any problems upgrading our PCs and laptops to the newer version. But I know several IT pros who work in midsized enterprise environments who experienced nothing but problems with the version upgrade, having to reinstall certain cumulative updates before the upgrade could be completed.
Something similar happened to a colleague who tried to upgrade Windows 10 from version 1909 to 2004 on his HP laptop. He found out that in order to upgrade his laptop he first had to update the firmware on the laptop before the new version of Windows 10 could be installed. And he also found out that he couldn’t upgrade his HP desktop PC to 20H2 unless he first upgraded it to 2004.
Then there was the colleague who couldn’t upgrade to the latest Windows 10 version until he removed all superseded packages on the problem machine. This involved using the DISM /ONLINE command with the /CLEANUP-IMAGE /STARTCOMPONENTCLEANUP /RESETBASE options to remove the superseded CU and .NET packages on the machine.
Maybe fix Windows 10 first?
Now I know that this kind of thing has always been par for the course as far as working as an IT professional is concerned. After all, we all make too many wrong mistakes, right? But with Windows 10, which was originally famously touted by Microsoft as the last version of Windows, now having been around for almost six years and having gone through a dozen different versions, one would think that by now they would have shaken all the wrinkles out of the product, right?
And yet the opposite has happened: supporting and maintaining Windows 10 has grown more frustrating than ever. What makes us think then that Windows 11 will be any different? And don’t get me started about the frustrations of simply keeping Windows 10 patched with software updates. I’ve ranted about this many times here on TechGenix in my articles and in our popular newsletter WServerNews. And the patching problems still continue as this Microsoft Tech Community article from two days ago indicates. The future ain’t what it used to be.
And yet. I’ve been a Microsoft fanboy for many years now (I am a 12-time Microsoft MVP) and almost all my books have been about helping IT pros support and maintain Microsoft products. I’ve developed many enjoyable and fruitful relationships over the years with people who have worked at Microsoft. It’s still a terrific company, in my opinion, with great people who have transformed the world and the way we live and do business. So I’m crossing my fingers that when we learn more about the under-the-hood improvements coming in Windows 10 (of which I’m hoping there will be numerous as far as IT professionals are concerned) that then I’ll be able to have a more favorable estimation of Windows 11.
Last version — until the next version?
So I hope Microsoft knows where they’re going with this newfangled last last version of Windows they’ll soon be releasing. After all, if you don’t know where you’re going, you might wind up someplace else.
Featured image: Microsoft / TechGenix photo illustration