Windows 11 arrives: my initial impressions

Disclosure:  Microsoft is a client of the author.

I’m fascinated by the coverage of Windows 11, particularly when compared to the media circus that surrounded Windows 95. When it was released, folks were far too excited and bought it much too quickly— only to discover Microsoft had a lot to learn about releasing a complex OS. 

Windows 11 reflects lessons learned over the past three decades. I’m writing this on a Windows 11 machine I just built over the weekend. I had issues with initial compatibility because even though this system used 11th-generation Intel technology, getting Windows 11 to work on it was far more complex than a Windows 10 setup has ever been. (I build one or two systems every year.)  But the extra pain I endured showcases the shift between optimizing for usability and optimizing for security, which sadly reflects the world we live in now. 

Let me walk you through my experience and why it was likely worth the effort. 

Windows 11 setup vs. Windows 95

The first system I built from scratch was in 1994; it was a Windows 95 system and it took me weeks to build it.  Back then, folks rarely built their own PCs because it wasn’t easy. Motherboards and cases, for instance, weren’t built to the same standard. So I had to float the motherboard in the case using rubber furniture feet because the mounting holes in the motherboard didn’t match up with anything in the case. I loaded the OS with a stack of floppies, then discovered a distinct lack of drivers. And since there was no full-fledged internet yet, getting drivers that worked was an exercise in futility.

Lost work due to crashes was the norm. I recall some nimrod (a technical term) at Intel who installed Windows 95 in one of Intel’s fabs; it failed and brought down the entire line (likely ending the career of said nimrod). In my case, I decided to put the OS on our CEO’s laptop and bricked it, effectively making me an honorary nimrod.    

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