Windows 11 – What to Expect
Windows 11 is around the corner and I’ve had the opportunity to explore it in-depth. It’s no surprise that Windows 11 will be released after Microsoft claimed that Windows 10 was going to be the “last operating system.” However, although Windows 11 is different by name, it is an incremental release and is more of an evolution rather than a revolution from Windows 10. To its credit, Windows 11 has some pretty cool new features; however, there are other features that make you wonder, “couldn’t they have just left well enough alone?” Nonetheless, there are some decent improvements.
A lot of the changes are a result of the recent, and apparently semi-permanent, work from home model. The remote workforce has introduced a significant problem in how remote devices are managed. Microsoft has made significant efforts to solve this challenge by leveraging their initiatives with Modern Desktop and Modern Endpoint Management (MDM), which is a combination of OneDrive, AutoPilot, Azure AD, and Intune. With their solution, all data, settings, apps, asset management, and user identities are hosted by Microsoft. This allows the localized Windows operating system to function more of a “dumb terminal,” where it can be wiped and upgraded without interrupting the user’s information. Windows 11 is a nice nudge into this direction as they have added additional hooks into the cloud model, especially by incorporating Autopilot provisioning into their Out-of-Box Experience (OOBE). By doing so, a PC can be provisioned in Azure and sent directly to a home user to be built. In order for this to work, however, businesses need to set up their user’s identity management in Azure, which can then be set up to sync to the on-premise Active Directory. With Windows 11, having a Microsoft ID to authenticate is now mandatory.
Unfortunately, we see several significant downsides to this model from the perspective of the business:
- It relies heavily on a fast and reliable Internet connection. If you have poor internet, the process will take hours to complete and has a high propensity to break, forcing you to restart from the beginning. If you are completely offline, this process does not work at all.
- Since this process assumes all data is in the cloud, all applications will need to support this, otherwise application data will be lost on any refresh. This can be especially problematic for applications with a heavy-load, such as CAD, development tools, and video editing. These all rely on fast, localized IO for performance.
- This requires the business to put everything into the hands of Microsoft, which essentially creates a single point of failure. If something were to happen to the Microsoft infrastructure, your business would be highly impacted and having an alternate business continuity plan to overcome this would be very difficult and expensive. Not all businesses are willing to take this risk, so their plan is to use the convenience of Microsoft provisioning, but have alternatives for data and application management.
I addition to the EPM/MDM aspects of Windows 11, there are a handful of enhancements that are worth mentioning. The new features I like include:
- Multiple Displays
- Snap Windows
- Reset PC Mode
- No more 32-bit
- Android Emulation
- Windows Terminal
The new features that I could have done without include:
- Centered Start Menu
- New icon styles
- New system font
- Microsoft App Store
- More Search
- Teams Integration
In summary, I see Windows 11 as an incremental step towards the proverbial “WaaS” (Windows-as-a-Service) model. This could be good for some and not as good for others. It has some cool new features on the UI and some additional enhancements under the covers. Mostly, it’s no more than another Windows 10 feature update with some kick. Like it or not, it’s on its way to your PC soon.
Our goal at Swimage is to give control back to your company, so that you can decide what of the new features you want to enable and which features you’d rather have turned off. Swimage will give you the control while still providing you the flexible, simple modern PC management experience that is desired in today’s workforce.