Should your business upgrade to Windows 11?

If you heard about Microsoft’s big announcement of Windows 11 and are wondering whether to upgrade, I have an answer. In a word: No. In two words: Hell no.

If you watched—or tried to watch—Microsoft Chief Product Officer Panos Panay’s intro for Windows 11, “What's Next for Windows,” on June 24, you knew this wasn’t going well from minute one. The streaming was abysmal, a presentation flop that was no way to introduce what’s really just a facelift for Windows 10.

Of course, Microsoft officials said Windows 11 will be the most secure Windows version ever. But how many times do they have to repeat this bogus claim? I think the first time I heard it was with Windows 1.02 in 1986, which only shipped in Europe. Why not Windows 1.01? It couldn’t have been Windows 1.01, because Windows 1.0 never actually made it to market because of—shocker!—bugs. 

This time around, and I’m not making this up, Windows 11 will be a “zero-trust-ready” operating system.

I believe them—and I don’t mean the Zero Trust architecture—I mean I have zero trust that it will be all that more secure than Windows 10. It’s probably running on your desk right now and every month, as regular as clockwork, there’s a slew of major security updates on Patch Tuesday. There’s a reason Computerworld has had a weekly column for ages just on Windows patching.

Think about that for a minute. Would you use any other product you need to update monthly to prevent catastrophic failures? We’re so used to it, we don’t even think about just how odd that is.

That said, while Windows 11 is built atop Windows 10, Microsoft is improving its inherent security by requiring your PC to have at least Trusted Platform Module (TPM) 2.0. (Originally, the company said TPM version 1.2 would work. Hmm.)

TPM is a hardware-based secure crypto-processor system. It prevents rootkit attacks and generates and stores cryptographic keys used for device and software authentication.

In addition, Windows 11 also requires your PC to have hardware-based isolation, Secure Boot, and Hypervisor Code Integrity built-in and turned on by default. This will protect you from malware and ransomware. That’s, of course, if it works; Secure Boot, in particular, has a long history of vulnerabilities.

But, and it's a big but, this also means that you’ll need a 2017–2018 or newer PC to run Windows 11. If your PC has an older CPU, such as a Summit Ridge AMD Ryzen or Intel Skylake, you may be out of luck. Some computers, including newer models, will also need BIOS or UEFI updates to run Windows 11. As of late last week, though, Microsoft was hedging on what processors Windows 11 will actually support. (Right now, users really can’t trust Windows’ own PC Health Check app for a straight answer.)

Does this make me eager to upgrade to Windows 11? It does not. 

As is always the case with a new version of Windows, Microsoft also isn’t promising that older programs and peripherals will work with Windows 11. If you run into trouble, you can turn to the App Assure program and hope Microsoft can help if something goes awry with any specialized mission-critical program.

Microsoft is pulling some features out of Windows 11. These include Internet Explorer and Cortana. Unless you never tore yourself away from ActiveX-based IE applications, I don’t see anyone shedding a tear for them. I was surprised to see the Timeline feature, which enables users to control their activities across multiple Windows 10 systems, get kicked to the curb. I actually used that one fairly often.

One good change, as far as I’m concerned, is that instead of two updates per year, Microsoft is moving to just one. These updates on the Home and Pro editions will get 24 months of support, while Enterprise and Education editions get 36 months. As someone who was sick and tired of having to drag my machines through major updates every six months or so, this is purely good news.

But, is that enough reason to move to Windows 11? I don’t think so.

Its prettier interface, thanks to the Fluent Design System, looks nice, but it’s not that nice. For me, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and this beholder just wants a system that doesn’t require me to learn yet another new way to do the same old things.

Android on my Windows desktop? It’s a neat trick, and I’ve long had it on my Chromebooks. It’s handy, but I don’t see much call for it in a Windows-based workflow.

Frankly, I’m hard-pressed to think of any good reason to move my business from Windows 10 to 11. In particular, I really don’t want to jump through the hoops needed to move my current fleet of work PCs to Windows 11. Yes, it will be a “free” upgrade, but there are just too many things that can go wrong for me to want to chance it. Most companies will weigh the same equation.

When it comes down to it, the only reason I can see for this “upgrade” is to squeeze a few more dollars from the old-school Windows model. Microsoft’s real plan for the future is its delayed Cloud PC launch. Desktop-as-a-Service is where Microsoft really wants its users to move. Windows 11 is just a placeholder.

Microsoft promises that Windows 10 will be supported until Oct. 14, 2025, which sounds good to me. Wake me up in, say, the second quarter of 2025. Then we’ll talk about moving my business to Windows 11.

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