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Should I Update to Windows 11?

Still no rush.

Windows 11 is out to much fanfare, hype, and confusion. Unless you have specific reasons, you don't need to upgrade yet, but there's also no reason to avoid it.
Applies to Windows: 11, 10
Windows 11

Updated July 2024.

The questions continue, but my answer hasn’t changed much in the three years since I first wrote this article.

My answer remains no. No, you need not update to Windows 11 yet — at least not unless you have a logical reason to.

And most of us do not.

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Is Windows 11 for me?

Windows 11 has been released, but there’s nothing compelling about it. The requirements remain confusing and likely to change. Windows 10 will be supported through October 2025 and will continue to work thereafter. Windows 11 is not something you need to jump to until there are worthwhile reasons to make the switch.

It’s out, but…

Windows 11, now nearly three years old, is a fine version of Windows.

I’m using it right now, as a matter of fact. I’ve been happy with it from the start.

But regardless of its issues or improvements over time, the truth of the matter is that Windows 11 rates a big “meh”.

Particularly since Windows 10 is a known quantity and will be supported at least well into 2025, I don’t see a compelling reason to switch.

The requirements are confusing and frustrating

One frustrating aspect of Windows 11 is its system requirements.

Many machines — even some newer ones — fail the compatibility test.

There are workarounds for some issues. For example, you may not be able to update a Windows 10 machine to Windows 11, but you may still be able to perform a clean install of Windows 11 even if the machine doesn’t meet Windows 11 minimum requirements. There are also official workarounds for installing Windows 11 if your TPM isn’t up to the requirements or you have a somewhat older CPU.

Are those workarounds going to work a year from now? Two years? Three? Your guess is as good as mine.

More pragmatically, are the requirements going to stay the same given the large number of systems that don’t meet them? It seems possible, though perhaps not likely, at this point, that the requirements might be “adjusted” before the end of Windows 10 support. The official TPM workaround is a good example.

There’s no compelling reason

Windows 11 feels like a Windows 10 feature update. In the past, we might have even called it a service pack. There’s nothing terribly interesting about the features.

Most of the features I’ve seen are either borderline boring or available already via other means.1

Of course, they changed the Start menu. Again.

Aside: The every-other-version “curse”

This is not 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 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

Some people can, should, and will play with Windows 11. People like me, for example.

Those folks have valuable feedback to show the rest of us just what Windows 11 is all about.

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

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

Windows 11 on a new machine?

Perhaps the biggest update since I first wrote this article is simply this: if you get Windows 11 pre-installed on a new machine, keep it. It’s fine.

Just as there’s no compelling reason to upgrade a working Windows 10 machine to Windows 11, there’s also no reason to run away from it. As I said, I’m using it every day and it’s a fine OS. Just as fine as Windows 10.

Do this

If you’re running Windows 10 and are happy with it, there’s no need to upgrade yet.

If you’re running a version of Windows prior to Windows 10, consider updating to Windows 11 if your machine supports it (or Windows 10 otherwise).

If you get a new machine that has Windows 11, keep it. It’ll be fine.

If you learn of some feature of Windows 11 that excites you, by all means, feel free to upgrade. I’ve not yet encountered such a feature.

To stay on top of the latest, subscribe to Confident Computing for more information about Windows 10  and 11 as well as less frustration and more confidence, solutions, answers, and tips in your inbox every week.

Will Windows 11 be a free upgrade?

Initial indications from Microsoft are that Windows 11 will be a free upgrade for compatible machines running legitimate Windows 10 installations. It’s unclear if there’s an upgrade path from older versions.

Is it OK to upgrade to Windows 11 now?

It’s OK to upgrade to Windows 11 now, with the caveat that it is changing and has a few issues that might not be for everyone. There’s no harm in upgrading, but there’s really no good reason to do so yet.

Can I go back to Windows 10 from Windows 11?

There are two approaches to reverting to Windows 10 from Windows 11. You have 10 days after the upgrade to have Windows 11 revert to Windows 10 using built-in tools. After that, the only approach would be to revert to an image backup taken before the update or reinstall Windows 10 from scratch.

Footnotes & References

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

46 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.

  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.

  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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

  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!!

  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,

  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.

  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?) :)

  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.

    • 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.

  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.

    • I am feeling the same. I also don’t want all the junkware they force on me. I like my PC, and just purchases a new one. I didn’t even consider Apple because I can’t get local service and had trouble with my iPad because of that. Plus, I have been Windows forever, so all my programs- I try to avoid subscription programs- are Windows based. They are making it hard to like them.

  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.

  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!

  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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

  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.

    • 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.

  14. This may have been answered and may be a nit picking thing but why does MS keep trying to get rid of start? It’s a popular feature and causes the most, IMO, dissatisfaction/outrage every time they “improve” Windows.

  15. I got Wimdows 11 through auto update over thee moths ago. No serious issue. I only lost audio, but a quick update the same day restored it.
    From my point of view, the differences are mostly aesthetics.

    • There’s a lot of under the hood stuff too. I think the esthetic changes are mainly to let people know that things are different, similar to cars, phones, and other devices. One change I’ve noticed with Windows 11 is the upgrade and update processes are much faster. There’s also the enhanced security which is invisible to the user.

  16. “Initial indications from Microsoft are that Windows 11 will be a free upgrade for compatible machines running legitimate Windows 10 installations. It’s unclear if there’s an upgrade path from older versions.”

    A workaround to that is to upgrade from Windows 7 or 8 to Windows 10 (still free) and then upgrade from Windows 10 to Windows 11.

  17. The only reason Windows 10 was “very popular” is that it was pre-installed on every single PC sold after a certain date. Some people were even switched to it without their permission, or perhaps they didn’t read the fine print before inadvertently hitting a key or something. I know people who tore their hair out trying to get used to it and I kept an old Windows 7 computer (not connected to the internet) because 10 would not run my favorite – if ancient – photo editing program. I don’t like programs being forced on me and this post about 11 is most welcome.

  18. I use Win 10 Home and I try to disable update to Windows 11 permanently.
    I click RUN and then SERVICES.MSC then WINDOWS UPDATE where I click “Properties” and then “disabled”
    However after each reboot this “disabled” changes to “manual” : will this protect me from unwanted Windows 11 ?

  19. I’m glad I asked – appreciate pragmatism! No Windows 11 for me until I’m forced. Thanks, Leo – sure thankful for your pragmatic approach and willingness to share with those willing to listen!

  20. I have been running Windows versions ever since Win-95. I actually have an old machine running Win-98. I have XP, Win-7, Win-8.1, Win-10, and Win-11 machines. I still use Win-98 for certain things, Win-10 for most others and Win-11 for grins. I agree with Leo and many other’s comments and see no good reason to update any of my compatible PCs to Win-11. I have installed my own personally written S/W on 11 to check for incompatibilities and so far it all works. I don’t like the new start menu or the way the context menus have been changed. There are 3rd party apps out there to make 11 look and feel more like 10. In the meantime Win-10 will remain my workhorse.

  21. I’ve been using Windows 11 for several months, and I just ran into my first bug. I wanted to make IrfanView my default picture viewer. When I went into Apps to change it, and under IrfanView, neither .gif nor .jpg nor .png showed up as an option. I’d probably blame IrfanView for not being fully compatible with Windows 11. That’s probably the most common problem with upgrades OSes, older software and hardware sometimes becomes incompatible with the new OS. Some vendors eventually catch up, others just fall by the wayside.

  22. My most recent PC, bought just under 3 years ago, came with Windows 10 installed. I updated to Windows 11 within a couple of months of release, although I had to alter a BIOS setting to be able to install it – something to do with security. I have had zero problems with it, all my software and my old games work just fine. Its now been out long enough that it should be safe enough for almost anyone to update to. Microsoft have now gone down the Apple route, future versions will simply be upgrades to the existing system from Windows 8 onwards.

  23. From the “Related Questions” section:

    “Will Windows 11 be a free upgrade?”

    I have an answer, at least up to the date of this posting, and I believe it’s Yes! I’ll provide a bit of history so you can make up your mind for yourself:

    My Lenovo Legion 5 Gaming laptop PC came with Windows 10 Home edition. I upgraded Windows 10 to the Pro edition using a product key I have from Windows 7, then Upgraded again to Windows 11. That upgrade gave me Windows 11 Pro, I suspect because I upgraded from within Windows 10 Pro.

    I recently re-installed Windows 11 using a USB flash drive created with the Microsoft Media Creation Tool. Following the installation I discovered that what I ended up with was Windows 11 Home Edition (my guess is that the Windows 10 Home edition product code data is hard coded into the UEFI firmware somewhere) so I changed the product code to the one I have from Windows 7 Pro (again) and Windows upgraded itself to Windows 11 Pro.

    Ernie (Oldster)

  24. I use Windows 10 Pro which was upgraded from Win 7 a few months ago. I didn’t used to have problems with SPAM until just recently and I have no clue how it happened. In your newsletter in reference to SPAM, you didn’t mention anything about what happens when one uses the BLOCKING feature which is what I use in email instead of UNSUBSCRIBE. My question is: Is that an effective process to eliminate SPAM?

    Thank you

  25. The golden statement is “Don’t upgrade to Win11 if you have no compelling reason to do so !”. I really like this statement :)
    I would just add that it is equally valid for all the older OS versions that we loved, and would like to stay with them because of their stability :):):)
    Of course, if somebody absolutely needs a feature that is missing from an older version, *ANY* version for that matter, then it is his/her choice to opt for an upgrade.
    I personally prefer OS stability, and not once “got burnt” by MS Updates flaws, which even required reinstalling the OS to clear their mess …
    And, as we all know, when there is an MS bug happening, then you, the simple user, which no IT assistance department to help you out,
    you are all alone, MS offers no help for you :(
    Anyway, ANY upgrade should be the USER’s choice, and his alone,
    without any enforcement from any side, especially NOT from MS side :)


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