All posts by Ed Tittel

Full-time freelance writer, researcher and occasional expert witness, I specialize in Windows operating systems, information security, markup languages, and Web development tools and environments. I blog for numerous Websites, still write (or revise) the occasional book, and write lots of articles, white papers, tech briefs, and so forth.

Surface Pro 3 Gets 21H2 Feature Update

OK, then. The Windows release environment has now forked. Those PCs running the Release Preview version of Windows 10  can go one of two ways. Those who don’t meet Windows 11 hardware requirements get an upgrade to 20H2 (Build 19044.1147) . The others get an invite to upgrade to Windows 11. Because my 2014 vintage Surface PC  falls into the first category, that Surface Pro 3 gets 21H2 feature update. The lead-in graphic provides more info, from Settings → System → About.

If Surface Pro 3 Gets 21H2 Feature Update, Then What?

This reminds me that Windows 10 has a planned life until October 2025. That’s 50 months from now, not counting July 2021 in the tally (50.35 months, countlng the 11 days remaining in this month). I find myself reconsidering hanging onto the old but still reliable SP3 as a way to keep up with Windows 10 even as most of my PC fleet switches over to Windows 11 later this year.

Other businesses and organizations may find themselves forced to straddle this fork, too. That’s because not everyone will be able to replace older hardware right away to make themselves Windows 11 ready.

Life on the Trailing Edge of Technology

If my experience with many small businesses is any indicator, Windows 11 will probably provide a wake-up call to those still running Windows 7. At least, most such systems will upgrade to Windows 10 and can keep running until October 14, 2025 when Windows 10 End-of-Life hits. This adds another 50 months to the planning and upgrade cycle, at which point businesses will find themselves more or less compelled to “move on up” to Windows 11.

NetMarketShare still reports the Windows 7 population as just under 24.8% of overall desktops. I think it’s pretty safe to guesstimate that 80-plus percent of those PCs won’t meet Windows 11 hardware requirements on grounds of boot type (MBR vs. UEFI), CPU generation (7th or lower, mostly lower), and lack of TPM 2.0 support. This could lead to an upswelling of Windows 10 numbers, even as that OS marches toward its own EOL date.

But that’s the way things work sometimes, here in Windows -World!

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Windows App Update Blues

OK, then. I just got back from a nearly two-week hiatus (see yesterday’s blog post for a trip report). For the past day and a bit more, I’ve been catching up my 10 PCs. In part, that means updating the apps on those machines. Indeed, this experience has me singing the “Windows App Update Blues.” They’re nicely illustrated in the lead-in graphic for this story, which shows two apps on my primary production PC that lack built-in update facilities despite widespread proliferation and use (Kindle) and a pricey paid-for license (Nitro Pro).

Why Sing Those Low-Down Windows App Update Blues?

It’s nearly inconceivable that Amazon, that paragon of modern software efficiency and might, doesn’t include an updater for the Kindle reader. Ditto for Nitro Pro, which makes me shell out over US$100 for updates to this powerful and otherwise handy PDF tool on a more-or-less yearly basis.

Updates are not that simple on either side. For Kindle on PC, I have to visit the “free Kindle app” page at Amazon. Because I stay logged into the site, clicking “Download for PC & Mac” brings a file named KindleForPC-installer-1.32.61109.exe to my PC. Then, I have to run the installer, and it gets updated. Thankfully, this does not require me to remove the older version manually by way of post-install cleanup. Question: why can’t I get an update through the usual Help → About sequence typical for most Windows apps?

Nitro Pro has a “Visit our website” link on its Help → About pane. I guess that’s intended to streamline the manual update process. But each time I have to upgrade, I have to remember to visit the Downloads page via the website’s page footers, and manually download the latest version. While Amazon is at least kind enough to rename its updates so you can tell them apart, all four versions of Nitro pro 13 share the same filename: nitro_pro13.exe so only file creation dates distinguish them from one another. Then, something called “Nitro Pro SysTray” blocks installation until I instruct the installer to shut it down manually. After that, things work their way to proper completion. It, too, cleans up older versions (thank goodness).

But the Question Lingers: Why Manual?

I’m still not happy that I have to run this stuff down on my own and run updates manually. I hope somebody at Amazon and Nitro notices this item, and takes appropriate action. Given that most programs do this automatically, why can’t their apps do the same?

 

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Vacation Return Means Posts Resume July 19

In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve been silent since July 5. That’s because the family and I took off on a great summer driving vacation on July 6 and just got back last night. I can now report that our vacation return means posts resume July 19 here at edtittel.com. Here’s a quick peek at our ambitious and sometimes tiring visiting/driving schedule:

Day  1  Round Rock     Big Spring, TX
Day  2  Big Spring     Albuquerque, NM
Day  3  Albuquerque    Colorado Springs, CO
Day  4  Colorado Spgs  Breckenridge, CO
Day  5  Breckenridge   Durango, CO
Day  8  Durango        Taos, NM
Day  9  Taos           Amarillo, TX
Day 10  Amarillo       Round Rock (home)

If Vacation Return Means Posts Resume July 19, What Happened?

I had several peak culinary experiences, including the best chicken fried steak (EVER) at the Settles Hotel in Big Spring, TX. Also really enjoyed a french dip at Seasons Restaurant in Durango on some truly wonderful local whole-grain bread. And a not-to-be-missed “meat coma” at the Big Texan Steak Ranch & Brewery in Amarillo.

We drove three thrilling and sometimes scary mountain roads. Two in Colorado included Highway 9 into Breckenridge and Highway 550 (including the famous “million dollar highway”) into Durango. In New Mexico, HIghway 104 from Las Vegas to Tucumcari bid a beautiful end to our mountain driving adventures.

We rode the Durango to Silverton narrow gauge train, and saw the magnificent and amazing Mesa Verde National Park near Durango. We also walked lots of mountain and/or tourist town main streets, drinking in the scenery and the mix of locals and visitors there.

All in all, it was a great adventure. All of us — Dina, Gregory and myself — had a great time.  10 nights away from home and 7 different hotels later, we gladly slept in our own beds last night.

Random Trip Highlights

We set a new “record MPG” in Dina’s E250 Bluetec diesel on this trip: 56 MPG riding a very long downhill stretch on I-70 from Vail to Grand Junction, CO. For the whole trip, we averaged just under 43 mpg, which reflects a large fraction of uphill driving.

In Colorado Springs, we stayed at the fabulous Broadmoor. Everybody should be so lucky at least once in their lives. It was amazing! The Settles Hotel in Big Spring proved a surprisingly good reason to visit that small Texas hamlet, the Rattlesnake Queen notwithstanding. I had at least four good bowls of chili on the trip, and an outstanding “Chile Colorado” in Mancos, CO on the way back from Mesa Verde National Park to Durango.

All in all, it was a terrific trip. Lots of beautiful scenery, interesting activities, and many, many miles covered (well over 2,000). Suitably refreshed and reinvigorated I’ll be covering my usual Windows topics on Monday. Stay tuned!

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Audacity Announces Data Harvest Plans

Dang! I just came across a news item that indicates one of my favorite audio recording and editing apps may be going over to the dark side. I’m talking about the long-time, well-known open source freeware program Audacity. Following  its April acquisition by the Muse Group, the program’s privacy policy updated on July 2. Alas, in that policy, Audacity announces data harvest plans. These include include telemetry data, and sharing of such data.

Audacity Announces Data Harvest Plans: What Kind?

What kind of data will Audacity collect? The types of data to be collected seem pretty innocuous. Namely, OS version, user country based on IP address, OS name and version, CPU. Also, non-fatal error codes and messages, and crash reports in Breakpad MiniDump format. I don’t see any personally identifiable information here, except for the IP address.

Who gets to see it? The desktop privacy notice reads “Data necessary for law enforcement, litigation and authorities’ requests (if any).” Legal grounds for sharing data are “Legitimate interest of WSM Group to defend its legal rights and interests.” That said, we also find language that reads such data may be shared with “…a potential buyer (and its agents and advisors) in connection with any proposed purchase, merger or acquisition of any part of our business…”

What has the user community most up in arms is that Muse asserts the right to occasionally share “…personal data with our main office in Russia…” This contravenes requirements of the GDPR, and could potentially violate data sovereignty requirements in certain EU countries (e.g. Germany) and elsewhere.

Does This Mean It’s Time to Bail on Audacity?

Not yet. These new provisions don’t take effect until the next upgrade to the program (version 3.0.3, one minor increment up from current 3.0.2) take effect. But a lot of people, including me, will be thinking long and hard about whether or not to upgrade. At a bare minimum, it might make sense to run Audacity in a VM through a VPN connection, to obscure its origin and user.

Note: Here’s a shout-out to Anmol Mehrotra at Neowin whose July 6 story “Audacity’s privacy policy update effective makes it a spyware” brought this chance of circumstances to my attention.

Note Added July 23: Audacity Updates Policy

If you check this story from Martin Brinkmann at Ghacks.net, you’ll see that Audacity has retreated from all of its controversial or questionable privacy policy language. Seems like the resulting user reactions caused them to revisit, reconsider and move away from data harvest that could touch on user ID info and addresses. Frankly, I’m glad to see this: I like the program, and am happy to understand its new owners have decided to leave its prior policy positions unchanged.

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WhyNotWin11 Offers PC Health Check Alternative

Some Windows users are purists by deliberate choice. Given the option of a Microsoft and a third-party too, they’ll take the MS route every time. I am no such purist. I appreciate good tools, whether from Microsoft or another (reputable) source. Thus, I’d like to observe that the GitHub project WhyNotWin11 offers PC Health Check Alternative. Indeed MS has temporarily taken down its tool. PC Health Check is available only from 3rd-party sources, such as TechSpot right now. Thus, WhyNotWin11 has the current advantage.

Why Say WhyNot11 Offers PC Health Check Alternative?

Though PC Health Check has been out of circulation for a week or so, WhyNot11 got its most recent update on July 3. Visit its Latest Release page for a download (version number 2.3.0.5 as I write this). You can also update the previous version 2.3.03 by downloading the latest SupportedProcessorsIntel.txt file and copying it over the previous version in the %Appdata%\Local\WhyNotWin11 folder.

Note: on my PC, that’s
C:\Users\\AppData\Local\WhyNotWin11\SupportedProcessorsIntel.txt.

WhyNotWin11 Is More Informative, Too

This story’s lead-in graphic shows the information that the third-party tool displays about target PCs. It provides a complete overview of which requirements are met (green), which aren’t listed as compatible (amber), and which are missing or disabled (red). This is more helpful than the output from PC Health Check. See it output below:

PC Health Check only briefly explains part of what’s at issue, and tersely at that.

While the message above does explain the “the processor isn’t supported,” it also fails to note the absence (as I know it to be on this PC) of a Trusted Platform Module (2.0 or any other version). WhyNotWin11 notifies users about both conditions directly and obviously.

IMO, easy access and operation, and more information about the target PC all make WhyNotWin11 a superior choice over PC Health Check. At least, for the purpose of finding out why a machine will (or won’t) upgrade to Windows 11. PC Health Check does offer other capabilities that users may find helpful, including (questionable) info about backup and synchronization, Windows Update checks, storage capacity consumption and startup time. I’m not arguing against use of the tool, when it returns to circulation. I’m merely suggesting that for the purpose of evaluating PCs for Windows 11 upgrades, WhyNotWin11 does a better job at that specific task.

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Windows 11 Store Updates via Library

One minor befuddlement about the newly-refreshed update to the Microsoft Store has puzzled me. Since updating to Windows 11, and obtaining the latest Store version, I haven’t been able to find its Update mechanism. This morning, on a whim, I opened the Library left-column menu item. Voila! Now I know one obtains Windows 11 Store updates via Library buttons. You can see the previously-elusive “Get updates” button at the upper left of the lead-in graphic for this very story.

Push the Button, and Windows 11 Store Updates via Library

And indeed, pressing the “Get updates” button from the Library controls behaves pretty much the same way as in Windows 10. The button goes dim, the busy circle icon circulates for a while, and if any updates are pending a list appears and begins to take care of itself.

I wish I could show you a picture of that update process. But only one of my test machines needed an update. It was for the commercial version of Lenovo Vantage (the ThinkPad update utility). Thing is, it flew by so quickly I didn’t have time to grab a screencap. That said, it does show up in Reliability Monitor as an Informational event. So here’s a screencap that shows it installed at 9:02 AM on July 3.

Windows 11 Store Updates via Library.update-relimon

There it is: Non-highlighted (second) item with LenovoSettings in the name string.
[Click image for full-sized view.]

As the old saying goes, I KNEW it had to be in there somewhere. A little poking around and I did eventually find it. My only question now is why did Microsoft decide to call this the “Library?” My guess: because it points to the repository of apps on the host PC where the Microsoft Store is currently running. The Help button is surprisingly mum on Store UI details and related info, so I guess I did what we’re all supposed to do. I figured it out for myself. Maybe you’ll find it helpful, too…

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What Color Is Your Windows 11 BSOD?

I’m seeing numerous reports in the news that in Windows 11, a stop error produces a screen with a black background. You can provoke such an error, often known as a BSOD (Blue Screen of Death, irrespective of color) on Windows 11 quite easily. Simply open Task Manager, go to details. right-click on svchost.exe and select “End process tree.” This will immediately crash your PC, and show you the stop code for CRITICAL_PROCESS_DIED. When I do that on both of my Windows 11 test machines, I get a GSOD (Green Screen of Death) that’s identically colored to the lead-in graphic for this story. What color is your Windows 11 BSOD?

Why ask: What color is your Windows 11 BSOD?

Over the years, I’ve seen them in various shades of blue and green. I’ve never seen a black one. I still can’t see one now. Thus, I’m guessing that the background color for a BSOD/stop error probably depends on some background or appearance setting in the OS. Otherwise, the claims I’m reading online that the background is black would also show up on my test machines.

Here’s a sampling of such stories:
Tom’s Hardware: Windows 11’s Blue Screen of Death Could Be Turning Black
BBC: Microsoft’s Windows 11 blue screen of death to become black
WinAero: Windows 11: Blue Screen of Death is now Black Screen of Death

In fact, this assertion is showing up in dozens of news stories. Thus, I find it both interesting and vexing that when I tried to confirm this for myself, both of my test machines came up with a green background instead.

One Case Does Not Make a Transformation

I think what may be happening is that some people will indeed see black as the BSOD background. Some will see green (including me). I’m curious to know if other colors will present. it’s most interesting that such changes can lead to pronouncements that somehow remind me of a certain Rolling Stones song…

And that’s the way things go here in Windows-World. Often it’s something odd and hard to explain, if not mysterious, like this one!

Update Added July 3: It’s a Possibility, Not a Fact

Now I get it! It’s a claim that originates from Tom Warren at The Verge, who writes

“The software giant started testing its new design changes in a Windows 11 preview earlier this week, but the Black Screen of Death isn’t fully enabled yet. The Verge understands Microsoft will be switching to a Black Screen of Death for Windows 11, matching the new black logon and shutdown screens.”

I guess that means I have to keep crashing my Windows 11 test machines after each upcoming new Build, to see what color the BSOD takes on. Eventually, if Mr. Warren is correct, that background will go “back in black” to call an 80s anthem to attention. Stay tuned!

 

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X1 Yoga Gen6 First Look

OK, I admit it. I’ve been sitting on this machine for a couple of weeks, buried in a mountain of other work. Ordinarily, I write my first look piece a day or two after a review unit shows up. Thus, my X1 Yoga Gen6 first look really includes a second and third look as well. And I must say, Lenovo has succeeded in injecting new oomph and vitality into a series of PCs that I’ve owned from them as far back as 2012. To be more specific, I’m talking about the latest iteration in the series: the ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 6.

Taking the X1 Yoga Gen6 First Look

Once I’d finished reviewing the ThinkPad X12 detachable tablet, I contacted the reviews team at Lenovo to request a loaner of this splendid little laptop. What they sent in response far exceeded my expectations. Here’s what this “Storm Grey” brushed aluminum laptop includes:

  • CPU: 11th Generation i7-1185G7 (4 cores/8 threads) 3.0 GHz
  • RAM: 16 GB LPDDR4X 4266 MHz RAM (soldered)
  • Graphics: Intel Xe Graphics Rev2
  • Storage: Hynix PCIe x4 NVMe SSD 512GB
  • Monitor: 3840×2400 Flex View Display (touch-enabled)
  • Ports: 2xThunderbolt 4 USB-C, 2xUSB-A 3.2 Gen 1, HDMI 2.0, Garaged Pen/Stylus, Headphone/mic mini-RCA jack, Kensington lock slot
  • Dimensions (HxWxD): 14.9mm x 313mm x 223mm x / 0.59″ x 12.32″ x 8.77″
  • Weight: Starts at 1.35kg (3 lbs: mine weighs 3 lbs 2 oz/1415g)

To my amazement, the current price for this unit as configured is ~US$3,800 (in round numbers, not including applicable sales or VAT taxes). This is a beast of a laptop, with an equally monstrous price.

What US$4K Buys You: Quite a Lot, Actually

The brushed aluminum deck and exterior are much more fingerprint resistant than my older X380 and X390 models in their standard Lenovo matte black finish. The construction is rigid and strong, with no real flex in either the keyboard or monitor decks of this 2-in-1 device. I found it easy and fun to use as a tablet with keyboard deck folded back behind. I found the keyboard just as usable and capable as most other modern Lenovo keyboards. For somebody who types for a living, that means a lot.

The speed of the RAM and NVMe SSD are pretty great, and the top-of-the-line i7 mobile CPU (1186G7) is likewise both powerful and capable. Right now, in fact, this laptop is the fastest PC at Chez Tittel and its 3840×2400 UHD panel the highest resolution display as well. In fact, I was amazed that the default scaling factor was 300%. That’s a good thing because I can’t see the text when it’s scaled 1:1 (100%). Touch is responsive, and the colors are vibrant and intense (500 nits, 90% DCI P3 color gamut).

The Thunderbolt ports come in really handy. In fact, they’re among the few Thunderbolt 4 capable input ports here at Chez Tittel. I’ve got several Thunderbolt 3 docks, which which the PC works splendidly, but so far I haven’t been able to stress test the high end of Thunderbolt/USB-C capabilities.

X1 Yoga Gen6 First Look.ssd-speeds

USB-C to the left with a Samsung 960 NVMe; Internal PCIe x4 Hynix NVMe to the right.
[Click image for full-sized view.]

So far, the internal NVMe CrystalDiskMark results (right-hand side of preceding graphic) are among the fastest I’ve seen here at Chez Tittel. The external NVMe is a Samsung 960 1 TB unit in a Sabrent USB-C SSD enclosure. Those results are also quite good. In fact, Macrium Reflect accomplished a complete C: image backup from the internal to the external drive in 2:46 with observed data rates of 1.7 to 2.0 GBps. On-disk size of the Macrium Reflect Image file (.mrimg) for that task is 22,821 KB (22.28 GB). That’s fast!

I Can See This Laptop as a Daily Driver

The target audience for this PC is business users. And in fact, I can see this device as a “daily driver.” If connected to  one or two external monitors, keyboard and mouse, plus extra storage through a Thunderbolt dock, I could use it as my everyday computing platform myself. The beauty of this approach is that one’s primary desktop turns into a traveling machine simply by disconnecting from the dock and heading out the door. I’d probably take my 1 TB USB-C attached external drive along, too for backup and recovery stuff on the road.

If you’re in the market for a high-end do-it-all machine, the X1 Yoga could be what you need. If you’re willing to plunk down the nearly US$4K it costs it can do the job. Then, if you’re willing to spend another US$1,500-2,000 to outfit it with additional accoutrement for in-office use it can serve as a primary computing platform. I’m thinking 2 27″ monitors (Dell UltraSharp 27 4K), decent keyboard and mouse (I like Microsoft’s offerings), and 2x5TB or larger external HDs attached via USB-C or USB A 3.1 or 3.2 would do it. And of course, this recently built PC meets all Windows 11 hardware requirements, so upgrading should be a breeze.

Highly recommended, for those who can afford it. My 2019 vintage X390 delivers about 75% of the performance for less than 35% of the price, though…

Check Your Prices, Dude!

After feedback from Lenovo arrived to the effect that “list prices aren’t best prices” — a sentiment I wholeheartedly endorse — I did some shopping around online and found a Full HD version with touchscreen (all other components the same) for US$2409.07. The lower resolution screen also extends battery life, so may be a better choice anyway. In fact, Newegg has the same configuration for a mere US$1,689 (FHD touchscreen but all else the same). Perhaps my concerns for price are overstated? You bet! Should I have shopped around a bit before posting this story? Too right! Somewhat abashed, I strongly recommend the FHD version of this laptop as a “killer deal.” Sigh.

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Windows 11 Device Driver Handling

Now that I’m getting past my first look, I’m starting to dig into the new OS. Right now, I’m thinking about device drivers. So far, Windows 11 device driver handling has been painless and on point.  I have noticed a few items of interest, though, about which I’ll report here. First, though, I’ll take a detour to introduce and explain my investigation tool.

GitHub Project DriverStore Explorer

Aka RAPR.exe, DriverStore Explorer is free software from developer lostindark. It’s made available via GitHub. I’ve been using it for a decade or longer, and it does a great job of showing drivers in the Windows DriverStore and zooming in on duplicates and outdated elements therein. I’ve now run the tool against both of my Windows 11 test machines (X380 Yoga and X12 Detachable Tablet). In so doing, some interesting patterns have emerged.

Windows 11 Device Driver Handling Seen via RAPR

As I look over the in-store drivers via RAPR on Windows 11, one thing jumps out immediately. As shown in the lead-in graphic for this story, there are 5 duplicated of the same Bluetooth driver therein. They share a common filename — ibtusb.inf — plus common dates and driver versions — 22.50.0.4 and 4/19/2021, respectively. These appeared only after installing Windows 11, so I’m not speculating too wildly when I assert that something during the OS install process installed a bunch of duplicates.

Fortunately, the RAPR functions “Select Old Driver(s)” and “Delete Driver(s)” clean these duplicates out without problems. As you can see in the following “after” image, there are now only two entries left under the Bluetooth heading. Before, there were 10.

Now only two entries under Bluetooth versus 10 beforehand.
[Click image for full-sized view.]

In fact, the only duplicates/old drivers still handing around after cleanup are extensions for the Intel Iris Xe graphics (iigd_ext.inf). This kind of behavior is typical when a driver remains active during update. That’s why RAPR provides a Force Deletion checkbox (and why a follow-up reboot helps). Indeed the X12 graphics went wonky after forcibly removing the graphics drivers in use. A reboot set things right and now it is using the latest version, just as it should be.

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Windows 11 First Looks

Mid-afternoon yesterday, I caught the word that Windows 11 was out via Insider Preview Dev Channel. Right now, I’ve got two test PCs upgraded to the new OS. #1 is a Lenovo X380 Yoga; #2 is a Lenovo X12. Both machines meet all hardware requirements and gave me my Windows 11 first looks. I must say, unequivocally, so far I really, really like what I see — and feel.

The Two Target PCs, in More Detail

PC number 1 is a 2018 vintage Lenovo ThinkPad X380. It’s got an 8th generation i7-8650U CPU, 16 GB of soldered DDR4 2400 MHz RAM, a Toshiba 1TB PCIe x3 NVMeSSD, Intel AC-8625 Wi-Fi, and a reasonably  capable 1920×1080 touchscreen, with fingerprint reader (no Hello-capable camera). I purchased this unit as a third-party refurb in late 2018 for around US$1200 (including all taxes and fees).

PC number 2 is a brand-new (2021) Lenovo ThinkPad X12 Detachable. It’s got an 11th Generation i7-1180G7 CPU, 16 GB of soldered DDR4 LPDDR4X 4267 MHz RAM, a Western Digital 1TB PCIe x4 NVMe SSD, an Intel AX201 Wi-Fi6 adapter, and a decent 1920×1280 touchscreen, with fingerprint reader and Hello IR camera. This is unit is on extended loan from Lenovo, to give me a chance to fly it using Windows 11 for some time.

Both machines worked quite well with Windows 10, where the X380 has been a Dev Channel Insider Preview test unit since day 1. Until yesterday, the X12 had been running production Windows 10. Both machines upgraded to Windows 11 with no difficulty. Each one took less than half an hour to make its way through that process.

What Do My Windows 11 First Looks Tell Me?

OK, it’s hard to get one’s head around a brand-new OS after a few hours in the saddle. That said, I’ve been messing around with Windows since the early 1990s, so I’ve got a good sense of how things should (or used to) work on these PCs. Here’s a list of adjectives I’d use to describe my experiences so far:

  • speedy: the OS feels perceptibly faster than Windows 10. Menus pop up more quickly, programs launch faster, and so forth. Even the venerable Disk Cleanup utility got through its post-upgrade scan and report noticeably faster than Windows 10. Windows.old cleanout seems about the same, however.
  • fluid: the transitions and animations are faster and more fluid than in Windows 10. Overall look and feel is much more consistent, though some hold-out from the old days still persist (e.g. Programs and Features in Control Panel).
  • familiar: though things have changed, and a few minor navigation details along with them, the OS still feels familiar enough that I’m not getting lost easily or often. I remember the sense of utter dislocation that Windows 8 brought to my desktop. Windows 11 does not have this problem.
  • snazzed-up UI: the round corners, fluid icons, taskbar, notifications and even widgets (successor to “News and Interests”) all harmonize better in look and feel. I do like the direction that Windows 11 is taking the UI, and have enjoyed fooling around so far.

Differences, Errors, Issues and MIAs

I’m sure my list will grow as I spend more time behind the wheel driving Windows 11 around. Here’s what I’ve noticed and seen so far, in no particular order:

    • The Advanced Startup option is MIA in Windows 11 Recovery.
    • An older version of CPU-Z threw a driver error (image below). Upgrading to the current version (1.96) does away with this problem.
      Windows 11 First Looks.cpuzdriver

This error message pops up on my Windows 11 desktop. The CPU-Z driver has issues for version 143.

    • I had to figure out that the right-click options for cut, copy, rename and delete now appear as icons at the bottom of the pop-up menu. Minor confusion, easily overcome.
    • Known issues include: taskbar does not appear across multiple monitors, preview window may show incomplete view, settings may fail to launch on a device with multiple accounts, Start menu text entry issues may present (WinKey+R is advised as a workaround), and more. See “Known Issues with Build 22000.51” in the Windows 11 Announcement blog post for more deets and particulars.

Overall, though, I’m impressed, pleased, and intensely motivated to keep exploring. Definitely worth checking out on a test machine or a throwaway VM. Cheers!

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