Technology in terms you understand. Sign up for the Confident Computing newsletter for weekly solutions to make your life easier. Click here and get The Ask Leo! Guide to Staying Safe on the Internet — FREE Edition as my thank you for subscribing!

Should I Update to Windows 11?

When it’s time, you’ll know.

Windows 11
(Screenshot: askleo.com)
Windows 11 has been announced to much fanfare, hype, and confusion. Windows 11 certainly isn't ready for prime time, and likely not ready for you.
Applies to Windows: 11, 10

The questions have started rolling in, and I have an answer prepared.

While my most common answer — “It depends” — certainly applies, I’m going to go one step further.

No. No you should not update to Windows 11 yet.

Let me share my reasons.

Become a Patron of Ask Leo! and go ad-free!

TL;DR:

Is Windows 11 for me?

Windows 11 has not yet been released, and is not yet ready for general use. The requirements are confusing and likely to change. There’s no compelling reason to upgrade at this time. Windows 11 is not something the average consumer should even be concerned about until its actual release, and even then, it’ll be worth waiting a while longer.

It’s not yet released

The single most important reason not to update to Windows 11 is very simple: IT HASN’T BEEN RELEASED YET.

Yes, there are pre-released beta releases, test versions, and whatnot. Those are not for you. Those are for developers and technologists (and, sadly, over-eager reporters) to try out the technology, give Microsoft feedback, and just generally play around with it.

What’s important to understand about Windows 11 in its current form is that it’ll break, perhaps seriously, perhaps annoyingly, and it’ll change, perhaps a lot, before it’s released.

It’s not done.

And it won’t be until the end of 2021 at the earliest. I’d expect 2022 for general availability.

The requirements are confusing and likely to change

One of the most frustrating aspects of Windows 11’s announcement is the changing system requirements.

To me, Windows 11 really feels more like a Windows 10 feature update, except for this change. Renaming it Windows 11 allows Microsoft to more easily change the minimum requirements to run the system.

Initial results are really confusing. Even machines with TPM (a new requirement — Trusted Platform Module chips) are being told that they can’t run Windows 11. In fact, many machines, even newer ones, are failing the compatibility test.

Yes, there are workarounds for some of the issues. Are those workarounds going to work when Windows 11 releases? Your guess is as good as mine.

More pragmatically, are the requirements going to remain unchanged, given the large number of systems that apparently won’t meet them? It seems possible, if not likely, that the requirements might be “adjusted” based on feedback and publicity.

There’s no compelling reason

Windows 11 feels like a Windows 10 feature update, and there’s nothing terribly compelling about the features listed so far.

And of course, they’re changing the Start menu. Again.

If there were something truly exciting about Windows 11, I might be more interested. Most of the features I’ve seen announced are either borderline boring, or available already via other means.1

Aside: the every other version “curse”

This isn’t a reason, but . . . well, maybe it is.

Windows XP Popular
Windows Vista Not so much.
Windows 7 Popular
Windows 8/8.1 Not so much.
Windows 10 On over a billion machines. Very popular.
Windows 11 ???

It’s as much superstition as it is anything else, and by itself, it’s not a reason to avoid anything.

And yet. There does seem to be a pattern.

Make of it what you will.

If you know, you know

There are people who can, should, and will play with Windows 11. That’s why it’s available now, before it’s done. Those folks will give valuable feedback to Microsoft and expose to the rest of us just what Windows 11 is or will be all about.

Those people know who they are. They know how to stay safe, and they know why they want to play with unreleased software.

If you don’t know — if you have to ask — then Windows 11 is not for you.

Not yet, anyway.

Maybe when it’s done.

Subscribe to Confident Computing! Tech problem solving & safety tips & a weekly confidence boost in your inbox every week.

I'll see you there!

10 Reasons Your Computer is Slow

Slow Computer?

Speed up with my special report: 10 Reasons Your Computer is Slow, now updated for Windows 10.

NOW: name your own price! You decide how much to pay -- and yes, that means you can get this report completely free if you so choose. Get your copy now!

Podcast audio

Play

Footnotes & References

1: I installed Microsoft Teams, one of the touted Windows 11 features, in Windows 10 while I was writing this article.

30 comments on “Should I Update to Windows 11?”

  1. One prerequisite for installing Windows 11, or any beta OS version: install it on a spare computer that you don’t use for anything important, or install it in a virtual machine..
    A backup taken before upgrading will protect you but there’s still a chance of data loss of any work done under the not fully tested OS.

    Reply
  2. The every other version “curse” goes back further than XP. 3.1 was very popular, but 95 was hated. 98 was good, ME had problems.

    My theory is that it’s not the fact of being every other version, but rather that Microsoft tries out significant changes that are not familiar to people and not readily accepted. The second version smooths out the rough edges and it becomes readily acceptable as more people got used to the new version. 95 was very different than 3.1. Vista was very different than XP. 8 was very different than 7.

    In this case, it sounds like 11 is not much different than 10, so I suspect that it will do okay.

    Reply
  3. I purchased my all in one desktop computer exactly one year ago. When I checked if it was compatible with Win 11, it responded that my Central Processor was not. When I checked against the actual listed requirements on the Microsoft site, my desktop was compliant with every single item listed, with the exception of the HP CPU in my unit. I doubt very much if I am going to be rushing out to purchase another new desktop for a senior’s home use in 2025, just to upgrade from Win 10 to Win 11 and am very much hoping the CPU requirements will be adjusted over the next few months or so. I am sure I am not alone.

    Reply
    • Not quite the same situation, but I was thinking of buying a new computer when the talk of Windows 11 started. I’ve decided that I can hold off purchasing until Windows 11 is launched and computers come with it pre-installed. I don’t want to be in the same boat as you and end up with a computer that won’t take Windows 11 and be stuck with an obsolete machine in 2025.

      Reply
    • This is purely speculation as is anything that can be said about Windows 11. With so many computers only a couple of years old, I belive Microsoft will have to make some major changes to make Windows 11 compatible with more machines. Otherwise, close to a quarter of a billion people will be using unsupported Windows in 2025 or switch to Linux.

      Reply
  4. No way am I going to install it. The most recent Windows 10 features update almost crashed my computer! I had the Dell logo and the running circular dots for an hour. I unplugged everything for 2 hrs and, the next time I powered up, my computer was okay. But, geez!!! Not going to take a chance on Windows 11!!

    Reply
  5. Hi Leo,
    I could not agree more when it comes to waiting to upgrading to a new OS and I will tell you why. I was always the first in line to get the newest one and then suffer the consequences. I started with windows 3.1. (See James B above) By Windows XP I was very happy. It was rock solid. But then I bought a $C4000+ desktop with Vista. It was an 88 pound Blackbird 002 and it had to be returned in it’s giant box via courier three times. Vista was an absolute disaster that in my opinion was rushed to market way too fast. Windows 7 fixed the problems. Windows 7 was again rock solid like XP. However, I think Win 7 should have been an update or service pack for Vista. I feel it was very unfair to make us pay for what I viewed as a “fix”. It looked and felt like Vista. Then Win 8 another disaster and so on. So this time, as tempting as it is to want to jump into the latest and greatest, I plan to hold back and stick with Windows 10. I avoided Windows 10, until October. I did not use my new laptop with Win 10 purchased in Dec 2019 for close to a year. That’s how much I didn’t like even the look of Win 10.
    Thanks for all your great work,
    Tom

    Reply
  6. As with all things Microsoft since the beginning of time, it’s best to ignore new software until its Service Pack one comes out, and then evaluate if you need it.

    Reply
  7. I used part of the most recent Stimulus Check to get the components to build a new production desktop PC and get a new laptop (a Lenovo Legion 5). My existing desktop will be repurposed going forward. I started this hardware upgrade shortly before I heard about Windows 11. I am in my 70s, and I decided that I should build a desktop with good enough ‘legs’ to be viable for (perhaps) the rest of my life. At about the same time, I saw an add for the Lenovo, and decided to get that too.

    I have just completed the production desktop PC build. It runs Windows 10, although it will probably be able to run Windows 11 when the time comes (note the qualifier – “probably”). The CPU is an AMD Ryzen 5 Picasso. I do not know if it will end up in Microsoft’s final list of supported CPUs, but maybe . . .
    .
    I am using my shiny new Lenovo Legion laptop to test Windows 11. I want to see how Win-11 works – so far, so good – but that is not to say that it is ready for prime time yet. Generally speaking, I like the new interface. It looks clean and sharp. Functionally, I prefer Windows 10, for the most part because I am used to it.

    In Windows 10, I can click the little icon at the far right of my task bar (it looks like a little box with a down-arrow on the bottom) to fly-out the notifications list, access (or customize) the quick actions list at the bottom of the notifications fly-out, and the item I use most often – open the setting app with the all-settings item. I keep the quick actions list collapsed, with the all-settings item at the right end so I always know where it is. In Windows 11, I had to add the settings icon to my task bar to get the same functionality, and muscle memory still keeps me going to the right end of the task bar to open the settings app, well, until I remember to go to the center to open settings.

    Long story short – up to this point, Windows 10 has all the functionality of Windows 11. With every ‘new’ thing I learn about in Windows 11, I can go to my desktop and find that same ability in Windows 10. One example is the Microsoft Defender Application Guard (MDAG). To install it, virtualization must be enabled in the firmware (AKA: the BIOS configuration). The main thing MDAG does for me is to put Microsoft Edge into a sandbox, so if I find myself on an unsafe website, it is much less likely that I’ll get malware installed on my system.

    All in all, I agree with Leo – there is no compelling reason to upgrade to Windows 11 today, especially if you are not a power-user, or a tech-head like me. I have been building my own PCs since the days of MS-DOS. I buy brand named laptops because there is no viable option to build my own. I dual-boot Windows with Linux (currently KDE’s Neon-Linux) on both my desktop and my laptop. When I can no longer have Windows, I will switch to Linux (I spend about half of my time there now), and I will have no regrets. An OS is just a way to communicate with the hardware, and the user should go for the smallest learning curve when possible. Windows is intuitive to use. Linux is becoming intuitive too (or am I getting used to the Linux UI?) 🙂

    Reply
  8. with the restrictions placed on pc’s that will be able to upgrade to Windows 11, Microsoft has eliminated over 50% or more of all computers in the world, once again they show they care not about the people and expect them to upgrade to meet their requirements. I alone have 4 pcs and a laptop and none are able to run Windows 11. Microsoft will also lose as these people will stop paying for other Microsoft products and things like Office will suffer. I do not understand how a company can bring forth a product that so many will not be able to run. Makes one think who is Microsoft in bed with to do such a thing.

    Reply
    • Apparently people will take their stimulus money and buy brand new Windows 11 computers. But really, tech companies have worked for decades to condition consumers to buy the next new thing, just because. It works! And, with the hype of more “security” with Windows 11, that’ll force companies to buy millions of new computers because they wouldn’t want to be sued should something go wrong. Actually, what didn’t make sense to begin with was Microsoft saying Windows 10 was the last Windows. That’s like Ford saying the Edsel will be the last model produced.

      I know, I know, someone here is going to nitpick the nuts and bolts of my Edsel analogy accuracy.

      Reply
  9. I am totally fed up with M$ borking my PCs and also continuously changing my preferred Apps. for music, photos, pdfs etc. because M$ knows best !!
    I’ve disabled Win 10 ‘updates’ on my PCs and will not put Win 11 on any of my PCs. I have good protection on all my computers and carry out regular backups/images to external hard drives and never experience any problems now. I even have XP on one of my laptops which I use with my music keyboards because some of the excellent programs I use, will not run on later versions of windows. Why on earth would I install windows 11 just to ‘keep up to date’ and take the chance of having any of my PCs being borked again by faulty untested ‘upgrades’ – assuming that any of them are compatible – which they probably are not….. I’ll stick with my fully working mix of XP, Win 7 and Win 10.

    Reply
  10. Hi hope you are well today. I have been in IT since 1982, (yup UNIX), and have used ALL Windows versions to date. So many issues plague this OS , M$ does tend to release software too early and let the users do the debugging. This saves big $$ on development, generates $$ by charging for support. M$ is definitely all about the money, money and more money, with no respect for the people who pay that money.

    Reply
  11. Thanks for a great, clear & concise assessment of the current situation!
    I have a computer business (30+ years). And I always try to jump on these things before my clients (this early, on VirtualBox).
    So, hopefully people’s minds are open and will wait for a general, well used version to do any upgrades!

    Reply
  12. Well in my golden years I will switch to a MAC. Really angery about Windows 11. Nothing but a high class scam to sell new equipment.
    I thought Windows 10 was it.

    Reply
    • Jasper,

      I know nothing about Mac systems, but do they not change versions as well? I’m confused about how switching from Windows to Mac would be a solution for you.

      Reply
      • Mac updates at a similar pace to Windows. There is one difference that makes Macs less prone to problems. They produce their own hardware, and they have more control over the machines, and the peripherals installed on their machines. That significantly mitigates driver problems. They can get the peripheral manufactures to update the drivers before the updates are released. Microsoft has no control over the machines it runs on, and it’s up to each manufacturer to keep their drivers and the software that runs on their machines.

        Reply
  13. Thank you Leo for another good article, full of good information on why Windows 11 might be the next “not so much” upgrade. I was a COBOL/PL1 programmer back in the 80’s on Prime Computers, did some work in UNIX, had to so the programs would have an interface to work in. Now in my mid 70’s, and not willing to build another desktop machine, will wait to install this iteration of the M$ dollar eating upgrade. They should learn to leave well enough alone when it comes to the OS. I was happy with 8/8.1 especially after Vista. Bought a new laptop and had 10 on it, would not have upgraded by old Compaq but then it would not have like 10 anyway. Now used to 10 and have no reason to upgrade again. Only programming I do today is HTML/CSS.

    Reply
    • Windows 3.11 was great. Microsoft should have learned to leave well enough alone instead of making change for the sake of change. Of course, what I just said is ridiculous. I’d be very disappointed if technology followed that argument.
      XP and 3.1 were great in their day, but they just don’t have what it takes to take advantage of capabilities of the ever-evolving technologies.

      Reply

Leave a reply:

Before commenting please:

  • Read the article.
  • Comment on the article.
  • No personal information.
  • No spam.

Comments violating those rules will be removed. Comments that don't add value will be removed, including off-topic or content-free comments, or comments that look even a little bit like spam. All comments containing links and certain keywords will be moderated before publication.

I want comments to be valuable for everyone, including those who come later and take the time to read.