Posey's Tips & Tricks
Windows 11 Wishlist: The Key Features Still Missing
It's hard for Brien to get excited about Microsoft's new operating system when it still misses the mark in these three important areas.
Ever since Microsoft made its Windows 11 preview available, I have spent a significant amount of time exploring the new operating system. While I definitely have plenty of opinions of my own, I've also read more "first look" columns than I care to think about because I was curious what others had to say about it.
About half of the reviewers describe Windows 11 as being little more than Windows 10 with a fresh coat of paint. Another 40 percent or so describe Windows 11 as an important advancement, bringing better security and mobility support to Windows. And, as you may have guessed, the remaining 10 percent think Windows 11 is a hot mess. Believe me when I say there are some absolutely scathing reviews out there.
Personally, I'm still on the fence about Windows 11. Yes, I do plan to upgrade to Windows 11 once it becomes available, but if I am to be completely honest, there aren't any Windows 11 features that really excite me. I'm hard-pressed to think of a compelling reason to upgrade besides the fact that I write and speak about Windows, and need to be using whatever the current Windows version is. However, I'm not saying there are no good reasons to upgrade to Windows 11. Case in point: Its support for Android apps is huge. But because I don't really use Android, that capability isn't one that would drive me to adopt Windows 11.
So what would? That's a question I have been thinking a lot about lately. If I were in charge of designing Windows 11, what changes would I make beyond what Microsoft has already done?
Two Key Security Tweaks
Security is the first thing that comes to mind. After all, Windows 11 requires a PC with a TPM 2.0 chip, so improving security was obviously a priority for Microsoft. However, there are two things I would do right off the bat.
The first is make it easier for users to take advantage of the security features that already exist in Windows 10 -- especially Windows Hello, which allows you to log in without a password by using facial recognition, fingerprint recognition, a picture password, a PIN or other password alternatives. These mechanisms are arguably more secure than passwords, but they are also far more convenient. I think most users would probably love to walk away from the hassles that come with password use, but many probably don't even know that Windows Hello is an option. As such, I would include an option for enabling Windows Hello in the Windows Setup Wizard.
The second thing I would do is enable Application Guard by default and place an Application Guard-enabled browser icon on the desktop. Application Guard essentially gives you a sandboxed Edge browser. That way, if you happen to stumble onto a malicious Web site, the odds are very slim that it will be able to do anything to compromise your computer, the OS or your data. The Application Guard feature works really well, but it is kind of buried within the OS and used by relatively few people.
No More Automatic Reboots
Not every new feature in a self-designed Windows 11 would be security-related. One example of a big non-security change I would make is to completely disable Windows Updates automatic reboots.
I would add a group policy setting through which automatic or scheduled reboots could be re-enabled if needed, but I would set the default behavior to "do not reboot." I would also make notifications of a pending reboot (when reboots are enabled through group policy) come with a panic button that the user could click to put a halt to the reboot.
While I realize the importance of update-related reboots, I absolutely loathe automatic reboots because they always seem to occur at the worst possible times.
Different Install Options
Another change I would make to Windows 11 is create a Windows Installer that would allow you to choose from several different modes. The default mode would be a Windows experience like what we have right now. However, I would also introduce a minimalist mode that installs Windows without the things you don't need. This includes backward-compatibility features, news and weather apps, advertisements on the Start menu -- the list goes on. Cutting out the unneeded clutter would make for a much lighter-weight, more responsive operating system.
While I'm at it, I would probably also introduce a "Linux mode" that would install the Linux Subsystem, PowerShell and that sort of thing. And I would provide an installation mode that would be roughly the equivalent of Windows 10 S mode.
I've got about a million other ideas about changes I would make to Windows 11, but these are some of the bigger ones. Who knows -- I may revisit the topic at some point after Windows 11 is officially released.
Brien Posey is a 20-time Microsoft MVP with decades of IT experience. As a freelance writer, Posey has written thousands of articles and contributed to several dozen books on a wide variety of IT topics. Prior to going freelance, Posey was a CIO for a national chain of hospitals and health care facilities. He has also served as a network administrator for some of the country's largest insurance companies and for the Department of Defense at Fort Knox. In addition to his continued work in IT, Posey has spent the last several years actively training as a commercial scientist-astronaut candidate in preparation to fly on a mission to study polar mesospheric clouds from space. You can follow his spaceflight training on his Web site.