Last night, I asked the lovely people on my Discord server how I could try out the preview of Windows 11. More specifically, I wanted a ‘pure’ Windows experience – i.e. one that didn’t involve some sort of hack-around with a Mac.
They had no idea. And that’s troublesome. Because they know their stuff (far more than I).
In fact, more worryingly, it turns out that no one seems to know what you need to run Windows 11 – including Microsoft itself.
Ironically, I was informed by the Discord crew that the easiest way for someone in my position to give Windows 11 a try would be to run it via a virtual machine on an Intel Mac.
This is a shame because I really don’t want to do that. For a while now, I’ve been planning a return to Windows for a short period of time to see what I’ve been missing out on. The Windows 11 announcement seemed like a great excuse to do so.
But there are so many problems.
The blog post no one should have to publish
Yesterday, The Windows Team published a blog post titled ‘Update on Windows 11 minimum system requirements’.
It’s one of the strangest things I’ve ever read.
It starts with the rather exciting news that they’re releasing the first Insider build for Windows 11 and confirms that The Windows Team is very excited about the insight its users will get “from you installing and using on a variety of your PCs”.
This is the first hint that something is amiss. There’s not much conviction in that sentence, is there? What, exactly, does “a variety of your PCs” mean?
Calamity then ensues. The Windows Team admits that the intention with the blog post is to “acknowledge and clarify the confusion caused by our PC Health Check tool”. They even suggest that they’ll be able to “set the path for how we will learn and adjust”, as though the Windows user base has inadvertently joined them during the very early stages of Windows 11’s development.
But there’s some good news, folks. The team confirms that security, reliability and compatibility drive its decisions. It’s just a shame that clarity isn’t among those words.
From what I hear, this blog post has done nothing more than anger and further confuse Windows aficionados. And I can see why.
At 798 words long, it features long, rambling sentences that feel rushed, and the post itself is tagged with an onerous UPDATED at the bottom of the screen. It is indeed lovely that they’re big enough to acknowledge the confusion caused by the initial launch announcement, but to simply add to that confusion with another failed attempt at answering the most basic of questions (will Windows work on my computer?), doesn’t bode well for the birth of Windows 11.
Haven’t we been here before?
They talk about Windows Hello, virtualization-based security, hypervisor-protected code integrity and TPM, which is apparently their version of Apple’s T2 chip.
There are so many numbers, acronyms and references to times gone by that it’s hard not to raise a wry smile. They even note the “99.8% crash free experience” achieved by their OEM and silicon partners. Nice to see they’re making some headway there.
Stop laughing at the back.
I’m not poking fun here. Well, I am. But only because it’s impossible not to. More than anything, though, this undeniably amusing blog post does remind me why I left Windows over a decade ago.
There are so many opportunities for it to go wrong; so many different CPU variants and OEM approaches to security. Whatever they’ve done with Windows 11, it is obviously seriously pushing the boundaries of cross-hardware compatibility. One wonders if they’ve even spoken to OEMs about it.
For instance, shouldn’t they be more than “confident” that it’ll run on a Qualcomm 7?
But… it’s just Windows, isn’t it?
What baffles me the most about this utterly bizarre communication from The Windows Team is that, on the surface, Windows 11 looks just like, well, Windows.
Rob and I discussed this on the latest episode of the Eight or Sixteen podcast. I pointed out that the leaked screenshots of Windows 11 still looked very Windowsy, bar the relocation of the Start Menu and some fancy translucency.
However, there’s clearly a lot more going on under the hood if even the team behind the code can’t quite work out the hardware with which Windows 11 will be compatible.
The situation is so bad they’ve had to temporarily remove the PC Health Check App and instead point people towards the Windows 11 system requirements page, which features an acronym-infested list of system requirements and no more than 22 additional feature-specific requirements if you want to have any hope of experiencing Windows 11.
Exhausted? Me too.
Why I want to try Windows
I love looking across the fence when it comes to tech. What am I missing out on? More specifically, what is Apple missing out on?
Windows has been on my hit list for a while now, but I’ve been waiting to see what happens with the operating system, because I’d heard countless rumours about a forthcoming, big transition to something beyond Windows 10.
That is indeed happening later this year. Or, at least, we think it is. But Windows 11 appears to be completely impenetrable at the moment – not just for curious users like me, but even for die-hard Windows fans. In fact, I’d argue that it’s pretty impenetrable for The Windows Team, too.
This is a genuine shame because I would love to see what’s happened in the ten years since I abandoned Windows in favour of macOS.
Help me with my Windows experiment!
I haven’t given up hope. But I need your help.
What should a Mac guy like myself do to try out Windows now? What’s the best pure Windows experience in laptop terms? Affordability, battery life and reliability are key considerations – as is the inevitable comparison with the brilliant M1 MacBook Air.
Get involved in the comments!