OCT 18, 2021 / Microsoft

Windows 11 launches with surprisingly few gremlins

It used to be the case that when a new version of Windows launched, it came with a whole host of bugs, incompatibilities, and problems. The standard advice I used to offer up was that most regular everyday computer users could wait until the first major service pack was available, because by then the most egregious of bugs would have been sorted out, giving you access to the new features without too many of the stability issues encountered by early adopters.

Microsoft threw something of a spanner into that plan with its release of Windows 10, which at the time it heralded as “the last version” of Windows it would ever release. That’s now no longer true with Microsoft’s Windows 11 becoming available recently, although as I’ve previously noted it’s not something that everyone will get pushed towards them all at once.

I write tech for a living, so while I’d been running the beta version (at my own risk) for some months, I was keen to see what the final, consumer-facing code was like.

I’ve certainly been stung in the past by just about every single version of Windows. Sometimes it was printer drivers no longer working. Other times it was the graphics card or the monitor driver. On one particularly frustrating occasion, a Windows update stopped my mouse working. Despite its graphical style, Windows can work with just the keyboard, but it’s not a fun experience trying to get a mouse driver to behave itself based just on keyboard commands!

Surprisingly, this time around, Microsoft seems to have got the balance mostly right, with those kinds of classic gremlins not seen by too many users. It’s even easier to upgrade than I’d expected. For Windows 10 you somewhat had to brute force your way into a fast upgrade back in the day, but this time round, Microsoft’s made a full installation assistant available to quickly upgrade if you’re super keen. There’s also a compatibility assistant that can be used to check if your PC is actually up to snuff before you start.

But should you upgrade quickly, or wait for that later update to iron out the bugs?

It depends on your precise needs, but for most people I’d still say there’s no rush to upgrade.

What’s pleasantly surprising is that there are relatively few major bugs reported for most users. Perhaps it’s the longer development cycle for Windows 10, and the beta period for 11 being widely available. Perhaps it’s just Microsoft only making minor visual changes to the user interface. Either way, while there are some issues, such as certain AMD Ryzen configurations reportedly running slightly slower, so far it certainly works.

So why not upgrade? Realistically, it’s because that right now there’s not a real single pressing need for most users to do so as long as Windows 10 meets your needs. The new snap layouts are nice, and sometimes a visual spring clean can be a welcome way to make your computer feel “new” again, but in most cases you’re just going to end up using Windows mostly as you did before. One of the big headline features, the ability to run Android apps on the Windows 10 desktop isn’t available at launch, with no specified availability date either.

While Microsoft will no doubt start pushing Windows 11 a little more heavily to Windows 10 users, it very much feels like the reality for most is going to be that their first experience with the new OS will be when they buy a new PC. Right now on store shelves you’ll still find Windows 10 machines, although they should all be Windows 11 ready. Give it a few months and you’ll see machines with Windows 11 pre-installed, which would rather solve the to-upgrade-or-not problem for you.

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Alex Kidman
Tech Journalist