Posey's Tips & Tricks

Was Upgrading to Windows 11 a Good Decision?

Time to put Microsoft's new OS to the ultimate test -- day-to-day use on the road.

As a lifelong “computer guy,” I from time to time have friends and family ask me what type of computer they should buy, or what they should look for in a new laptop. Obviously, everyone’s needs are different, but the number one thing that I expect from a laptop is rock solid reliability.

The reason why reliability is such a huge concern for me is simple. I travel heavily, and when I am away from home my laptop is essentially my lifeline. I depend on it for getting my work done, communicating with those who need to reach me, entertainment and more.

Even though reliability is normally my number one concern, I recently took a really big chance with regard to my laptop. The day before I was to leave for a long trip, I upgraded to Windows 11. Normally, I would never perform any sort of upgrade or major configuration change just prior to traveling, because if something were to go wrong then my ability to fix the problem while away from home might be limited. However, my experiences with the pre-release Windows 11 builds were entirely positive (at least from a reliability standpoint), so I went ahead and rolled the dice. Incidentally, I did hedge my bets a little bit by using a Microsoft Surface Book 3. I surmised that I probably wouldn’t have any issues with running a Microsoft operating system on Microsoft hardware.

Of course there is one big question that I still haven’t answered. What is it that compelled me to upgrade to Windows 11, especially right before traveling? The short answer to that question is curiosity.

Leading up to the Windows 11 release, I had spent ample time with the new operating system. I have installed it on numerous virtual machines, I have written about it, and I even created a video course about Windows 11. The one thing that I hadn’t done was to use Windows 11 in production.

I’m not quite ready to upgrade my primary desktop at home to Windows 11 yet for various reasons. The reason why I chose to upgrade my laptop to Windows 11 just before a big trip was that doing so would force me to use Windows 11 day in and day out. That way, I would really be able to get a good feel for how well Windows 11 works in production before I committed to upgrading any of my machines at home.

So what was the experience like, and is it worth upgrading to Windows 11 right now?

My most recent trip lasted a couple of weeks and I used my laptop heavily during that time. I wrote blog posts, I spoke at a Webcast and I spent a whole lot of time copying SD cards from cameras to portable hard drives. I even used the laptop in a multi-monitor configuration at times. Through all of that, the laptop did not let me down. It did exactly what I needed for it to do.

There were also times when I had to use the laptop on battery for extended periods of time, and although it is a purely subjective observation, it seemed like I got better battery life than I was getting when I was running Windows 10. I can’t prove it, and I can’t even say with 100 percent certainty that Windows 11 actually improved my battery life, but it sure seemed that way.

The only real annoyance that I had with Windows 11 was with regard to copying files. As previously noted, I spent a lot of time transferring the contents of SD cards to external hard disks. Normally when I copy files, I just right click on the files and choose the Copy command, and then right click in the destination and choose the Paste command. However, Microsoft has removed options such as Copy, Paste, and Rename from the shortcut menu. These commands have been reduced to icons. The process still works the same way as it did before, but you have to click on an unlabeled icon instead of on a command. These icons are tiny when you are working from a small screen device, and I sometimes had trouble telling which icon I was supposed to click.

So is it worth upgrading to Windows 11 right now? In all honesty, I think it really comes down to personal preference. If you like the new interface and your hardware can handle the upgrade, then I would say, go for it. If on the other hand, you are perfectly happy with Windows 10 then there is really no compelling reason to upgrade. This might change later on as Microsoft introduces new features into Windows 11 and brings the Android app store online. For right now, Windows 11 feels like Windows 10 with a new interface. Hence I think that at this moment in time, one operating system is probably as good as the other, and personal preference (and hardware compatibility) are the main things that will probably drive upgrade decisions.

About the Author

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.

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