Windows 11: What is it and do I need it?

Windows 11 was announced in summer 2021 and was available for installation from 5th October 2021. Microsoft have confirmed that Windows 10 Home edition will be retired on October 14th 2025, so it will remain possible for a while to downgrade back to Windows 10 after installation if you’re not happy with the new version. Enterprise customers will have access to Windows 10 IoT Enterprise versions beyond this.

Key changes between Windows 10 and Windows 11

The visual appearance of the OS has been upgraded so the look of your software will feel a little different. Aesthetics such as the position of the start button and rounded corners instead of square ones should be pretty easy to get used to, so there’s nothing to be concerned about there.

The system has been optimised for remote working and MS assure us it will be easier to communicate with people on other devices. This is achieved by functions such as Teams being built in and more smoothly integrated, and new features make connectivity easier when moving to different locations.

If you don’t like the feel of your new OS, don’t worry. Windows 11 is more customisable than previous releases, so you can override the positioning of the start menu and other elements.

A definite bonus is the increased processing speed and lower power consumption, making mobile computing and edge computing more efficient. Updates are around 40% smaller in keeping with faster load times.

An upgrade to the security features of Windows 11 has caused some compatibility issues, and some CPUs aren’t compatible with Windows 11 due to the much higher minimum system requirements. For example, older versions of Intel and Arm processors don’t have Trusted Platform Module (TPM) built in. TPM provides cryptographic keys which make hacking trickier, and without this, Windows 11 won’t run. A recent Lansweeper survey suggested that about half of all workstations won’t be compatible: “While the majority passed the RAM test (91%), only about 50% [of the] TPMs tested met the requirements. It’s worse for virtual machine workstations. Only 0.23% of all virtual workstations have TPM 2.0 enabled.”1

There may also be compatibility issues with certain software, especially custom, in-house software and apps. Users and IT administrators will need to check suitability before installing.

Minimum hardware requirements are also a little higher than Windows 10, and have been published by Microsoft as follows:

• 1GHz dual-core processor
• 4GB RAM
• 64GB of storage
• UEFI, Secure Boot capable
• Trusted Platform Module (TPM) 2.0
• Graphics card compatible with DirectX 12
• Display larger than 9in with 720p or higher resolution
• Microsoft account + internet connection

Reported issues following installation have been cited as poor Wi-Fi performance, a broken search function, issues with File Explorer and problems with memory which will, in time, slow devices down.

Are different editions available?

Upgrading to the latest version is free for standard users and anyone currently using Windows 10 Pro will also be able to upgrade to Windows 11 Pro for free.

Do you need a Pro edition? Windows 11 Pro allows you to remote into it, while the standard Windows Home edition can’t host a remote session, and doesn’t support Hyper-V or Windows Sandbox.

The Pro version comes with more security, including BitLocker encryption and Windows Information Protection (WIP) which can be used to prevent users forwarding information outside your company.  Features exclusive to Windows 11 Pro include Mobile Device Management, Windows update for Business, Enterprise State Roaming and Assigned Access.

Windows 11 Pro also addresses some of the restraints over the upper limits on storage and cores of the Windows Home edition, offering higher thresholds and therefore the option for more storage and even faster processing.

For those requiring Windows 10 LTSC, there will be an LTSC for Windows 11 but not yet – the roadmap from Windows doesn’t currently confirm a date. Windows 10 LTSC releases will be supported beyond the standard Windows 10 retirement date of October 2025, with Windows LTSC 2019 being supported until 2029 and LTSC 2021 until 2032. 

What does this mean for Steatite and our customers?

We’re looking forward to embracing the new features and faster speeds of Windows 11 – but not just yet! We’ll upgrade our own systems and offer the new OS for customers once all the appropriate versions are available and thoroughly road tested. Watch this space for updates. 

You can read more about Windows 11 on the Microsoft website, or get in touch with our Computing experts to see if and when upgrading might be right for you.

References

Microsoft, Windows 10 and Windows 11 are trademarks of the Microsoft group of companies.
1 Windows 11 Is Here… but Is Your Organization Ready for It? (makeuseof.com)