So Microsoft held this Windows 11 announcement last Thursday, June 24, and it was… well… let’s just say it happened.
Let’s get into it though. The reception seems to be universally summed up as… Huh ? Ahhh, OK. That is not just among Apple fans, but also Windows fans too. As you can maybe tell from my blog, I am the former. But I arrived as an Apple fan after many years of well earned street cred in the Microsoft world. I’ve been into Microsoft DOS v1 and Windows v1, Apple iPhone since 2007 and Mac since 2010. Software engineer and infrastructure engineer since forever, and tech nerd always.
My Microsoft Street Cred
Since I know some are gonna just dismiss my observations and critiques by categorizing me as just another hypnotized Apple fanboy, I should share some Microsoft street cred. Because I’ve been through the pains and turmoil, and put in my time earning my cred and gaining the expertise to critique Microsoft, as well as Apple.
Long before I arrived at Apple, which happened in 2010 when I switched to the Mac and never looked back, I spent a ton of years as a big time Windows and Microsoft fan and advocate. I go back to using DOS and Basic, when I was a kid and those were essentially Microsoft’s only products back then. Then on to years of infrastructure engineering and IT work and software engineering with lots of Microsoft products, to professional Microsoft product advocate working for Microsoft partners.
Today I much prefer Apple products and do most of my work on them. However, I still use Microsoft products almost every day. I am no longer a Windows, nor an Office fanboy, but I am a huge fan of Azure and especially Azure DevOps.
I’ve been using Windows, and DOS for way more years then I care to admit. I’ve been a propeller head and tech nerd since I was a kid, and started earning a little money as a tech consultant when I was a teenager. My Microsoft street cred goes back to DOS v1 and Windows v1. Here’s a List of Microsoft Windows versions at Wikipedia.
Windows didn’t really get usable until Windows/386, which was based on v2.0 and finally took advantage of the Intel 80386 processor by implementing support for things like preemptive multitasking, protected mode, and RAM beyond 640K. Windows/386 at Wikipedia.
But Windows only started getting good for regular people at v3.0. That’s part of the origin of the old saying about Microsoft, that you have to wait for version 3 before it works. And Windows 3.1 finally started adding some native support for networking. That’s about the time I started advocating for Windows in the companies I worked at, and deploying it and Microsoft Office to 100s of users. Here is the History of Microsoft Office at Wikipedia.
I also did a ton of work with lots of other Microsoft products like servers and development tools. I started experimenting with the first versions of Windows NT on servers, and later on workstations too. The NT kernal completely replaced DOS, which other Windows versions still required because Windows ran on top of DOS. DOS would continue to be required through to Windows 95, 98 and into ME. It would not be until Windows XP in 2001, which finally killed off DOS for good, with the NT OS kernal.
Windows finally went consumer mainstream with Windows 95. And that was when I was professionally advocating Windows in public seminars and training that I conducted, while working for Microsoft partners.
All that time I was pretty hostile towards Macs. Although everyone in the corporate world back then used PCs with DOS and Windows, I worked with a few marketing and designer folks that used Macs, and we’d get into some pretty heated debates about Windows vs Macs. I was the Windows zealot in those debates.
iPhone Showed Me The Light
As smartphones began to evolve, I experimented with many types, but being a Microsoft zealot at the time, I naturally gravitated towards Windows based phones running Windows CE, Pocket PC and Windows Mobile (history at Wikipedia). And they all sucked !!! I had a crazy expensive, top of the line Windows smartphone from Compaq and it could not be trusted to handle a phone call without crashing, let alone reliably run smart apps.
When I saw the Apple iPhone on January 9, 2007, I absolutely knew that was IT !!! The first real smartphone that worked, and would change everything. See the History of the iPhone at Wikipedia.
Windows Just Kept On Being Crap
Meanwhile, Windows was not getting significantly better. In comparison to previous versions, some versions showed some progress, and others were just crap. Windows v3 finally worked, with 95 it was finally ready for regular people. NT finally replaced DOS but wasn’t ready for regular people, but with XP it finally was. Windows 98 was just OK, but ME was a disaster. Then Vista said to ME, “hold my beer” and became an even bigger disaster. As was Windows 8 later on.
By 2008 I was getting more and more disgusted with the lousy reliability of Windows XP, and PC hardware, and the lack of significant progress in Windows in general. But I decided to give Microsoft one last chance with the pending release of Windows 7, before I starting seriously considering other platforms. Windows 7 was finally released in 2009, 8 friggin’ years after the release of XP !!! And although it was an improvement over XP, 7 was not the big leap that 8 years should have produced and didn’t fix the reliability problems.
The multi-decade reliability problems of Windows through many many versions, and massive kernal transitions, is what has so firmly established the troubleshooting rule of just rebooting first to solve reliability or stability problems with Windows. It’s a running joke, that is just so so sad after all this time. And still continues to this very day. I just heard someone seriously suggest that to someone else, like a couple weeks ago.
Dumped Windows For Mac And Never Looked Back
I gave Microsoft more than enough years of my life, and blood, sweat and tears – and far too many opportunities to improve. But Windows 7’s lack of major improvements in reliability and stability, and lackluster feature additions, was the final straw.
So, in 2010 I bought my first Mac. A MacBook Pro. And WOW, what a HUGE improvement in reliability, stability, and performance too. Just being able to simply close and open the lid of the MacBook, and for it to almost instantly wake from sleep AND do it reliably was a GIGANTIC leap forward over PC laptops running Windows 7, and every version of Windows before it. Not having to reboot every few days to fix problems, to ensure it stays reliable was big too. It was like a whole new, better world, with different basic rules and assumptions.
I could trust my MacBook to just work. I could never trust a PC to just work. PCs and Windows always required tinkering and rebooting constantly.
And that 2010 MacBook Pro still works to this day – 11 years later !!!
I do still use Windows. Unfortunately I have to for my work. But luckily I run it in Virtual Machines (VMs) and so I don’t have to suffer through PC hardware and painfully awful Windows OS and app User eXperiences (UX).
Microsoft’s Windows 11 Announcement
Which brings us finally to now. Before I dig in though, let me state for the record, that I am truly glad that Windows exists to give the Mac competition, and that Mac exists to push Windows forward. That Linux and other open source options exist, to push everyone to innovate. And that Microsoft has after 6 years since Windows 10, has finally announced a major new version.
But then there’s that event… Hey… It was just like an Apple Keynote, really… Except for the lack of significance, major features, great speakers and charisma. But they gave it a good try.
But perhaps it’s not fair to compare them to Apple. Arguably Apple is insanely good at this stuff and has a lot more practice. But that comparison is unavoidable. You can’t do a product announcement and not expect to be compared to Apple. I’m lookin’ at you Google and Facebook. So Microsoft, you must step up your game, or you’ll get understandably lampooned on, well… comments everywhere.
Really though, my critiques are gonna be minor compared to the comments on the 2021 Microsoft Windows Event video on YouTube, other YouTube videos, articles like everywhere, and on… oh man, on Twitter (link to #Windows11). OH MY, oh my…
Speaking of Twitter, this one got me rollin’ !!! I laugh my ass off every time I look at it.
Here’s just one YouTuber example of a typical reaction to Windows 11. I picked Linus here, because he’s pretty biased in favor of PCs and Windows, and represents a reaction on the milder side. And yet…. See for yourself.
Microsoft’s Event Video
Stuff That Looks Cool
- Snap layouts is a great idea. A nice refinement of implementations of it elsewhere. BTW Microsoft, you didn’t do this first – see Linus Tech Tips video at 1:57. So just stop doin’ that. (Spoiler: They don’t stop)
- The glassy look is cool. Although Apple did that with Aqua in 2000 (Wikipedia on Aqua user interface). But it’s still cool and polished.
- The new centered look…Ah… Well change is good right ?
- Dark mode… finally.
- Direct Storage is a nice architectural design. Note that it looks like it will require new hardware to support it. Kinda sounds like what Apple did with their M1 processor architecture, but not as good.
- Gaming is awesome on Windows, as always. Really, the only good reason to get a PC. Wait… No, never mind, get a PlayStation 5.
- Android apps on Windows 11 ? Ah, OK… That’s a feature, I guess.
Where’s the Friggin’ Software ??!!!
Hey Microsoft, you can’t try to do what Apple does every single year in June at their WWDC, and not release the software to developers and insiders. Especially after 6 years of no new major versions !!! And also… decide to do it in friggin’ June !!! The same month Apple does their events every year, and announces new versions of like 6 OS variants, built on 2 OS platforms.
Apple announces and demos several new OS versions every year at WWDC. And they release the OSes to developers that same day, like right after the announcements. Then weeks later, they release public betas to everyone. SAME DAY for developers. WEEKS for everyone else. NOT months.
Microsoft has released nothing !!! I can’t find a a real date commitment for developers, insiders or customers in Microsoft’s materials. Just leaked Windows 11 software on YouTube.
And yeah, I know Microsoft has been releasing feature updates to Windows 10. But it’s just not the same thing.
Thin on New Features – Public Windows 11 Page Is Embarrassing
The public facing web page on Windows 11 is just sad. It’s content is thin. It’s design is not engaging. It doesn’t make a case as to why anyone should care about or want Windows 11. That’s partly because there’s not enough new about Windows 11 to make it interesting.
Compare it to what Apple builds every year for all of their OSes that they announce and demo every June. Look at Apple’s Developer home, macOS Monterey, iOS 15, and iPadOS 15 pages. Even WatchOS 8 has a decent amount of content links, and WatchOS historically has less new stuff then the other OSes. Notice all the many links to deep dive into details. The details that are missing from Windows 11 page. You’ll notice that this is a pattern.
Windows Insider on Windows 11 Is WEAK Too
The Windows Insider – Windows 11 page is super thin on info, and anything actually useful. If Microsoft had done this right, they would have immediately released Windows 11 beta to developers and Insiders. The Insider channels are specifically designed for that.
Why Did Microsoft Have To Lie ?
Microsoft Chief Product Officer, Panos Panay in Introducing Windows 11, June 24, 2021 – Microsoft Experience Blog:
The web was born and grew up on Windows.Microsoft Chief Product Officer, Panos Panay
I heard him say this in the announcement video too, and it immediately irked me. Because that’s a lie. The web was not born on Windows, nor was it the only platform used to grew the web. Open source software and UNIX based OSes play an enormous role.
The first web browser and server were built on NeXT computers, which was founded by Steve Jobs after he left Apple. The NeXTSTEP OS was based on UNIX. And after NeXT was acquired by Apple in 1996, when Steve Jobs returned to Apple, the NeXTSTEP OS would later become Mac OS X and is now macOS.
The truth is the first web browser and server were built in 1990 on the predecessor to macOS. NOT Windows. Microsoft had no clue about the web and the Internet, and didn’t release anything until 1995 when they released Internet Explorer – which was based on code developed by someone else. And then cheated and abused their monopoly power to kill some of their competitors. Check out United States v. Microsoft Corp. on Wikipedia.
In 1998 Apple’s iMac was released (Wikipedia page) that was designed and marketing around its Internet capabilities. And for the years before that, Apple was shipping the Netscape Communicator and Cyberdog web browsers with Macs (Wikipedia).
The web was born at CERN, a European research organization based in Geneva, Switzerland. From the CERN Wikipedia page:
CERN is also the birthplace of the World Wide Web.CERN Wikipedia page
NOT MICROSOFT !!!!
In December 1990, an application called WorldWideWeb was developed on a NeXT machine at The European Organization for Nuclear Research (known as CERN) just outside of Geneva. This program – WorldWideWeb — is the antecedent of most of what we consider or know of as “the web” today.CERN 2019 WorldWideWeb Rebuild
In the history section of that CERN page, it lists the web browsers and servers and the years they were released. The first browser and server were built in 1990 on NeXT computers.
NOT MICROSOFT !!!!
Microsoft’s Internet Explorer would not appear until 1995, and was not even built by Microsoft. It is based on Spyglass released in 1994. Microsoft did not even develop the code in the original Internet Explorer themselves. They licensed it from Spyglass.
Windows is NOT Truly Open
There are several exaggerations in Microsoft’s announcement video. Here’s one of them.
In the video they kept describing Windows as open. The implication being that other OSes are not open. Technically speaking the word “open” when used alone, typically means open source code. Windows is a completely closed source OS.
What Microsoft really meant was that Windows has an open ecosystem, and implying other OSes do not. That’s a ridiculous and meaningless statement. All OSes that support third party software and hardware development, have open ecosystems. That includes Windows competitors like macOS and Linux. Mac and Linux OSes, BTW, are actually based on the open source code for the UNIX OS. To be clear, I’m not saying macOS is open source – it’s not. But it’s ecosystem is as open as is Windows.
Microsoft made it additionally misleading by using these different terms in the video and implying that open, and open ecosystem or open platform are the same things. They are not.
Windows Secure ??!! LOL
Windows being secure was mentioned a lot. Which is totally bonkers, because Windows is perhaps the least secure OS on earth, just ahead of Android – based on the large number of hacks, vulnerabilities found and the size of the attack surface (number of devices in the wild). And they gave no details on how Windows 11 is any more secure. They just made the empty claim, with no details to back it up.
Fast, But Slow and Bad UX
Microsoft claimed that Windows 11 is faster, but once again offered no details. Yet in the pre-recorded demos it looked slow to respond. Check out time mark 21:12 in Microsoft’s video. Notice when the presenter moves windows around with his finger and how far behind where his finger is, and where the window falls. When he flips to portrait, notice how slow Windows re-orients the screen.
The lack of animations in transitions makes the User eXperience (UX) awkward. And the general lack of smoothness in the UX is typical of Windows and most Microsoft products. Overall, it makes for a bad UX.
How Many Layers of Inconsistency Does Windows Have ?
Or… How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop ?
I thought of this classic commercial because of the owl at end of it. His dismissal of the problem is maybe a metaphor for Microsoft’s apathy about their Windows problems. Although, admittedly, the analogy does fall down because Tootsie Pops are GOOD – and Windows ain’t !!
State of the Windows
Hidden just under the surface of every new Windows version, is the old one. And just under that is another older version. And under that, a much older one. And… Well, you get the idea.
In Windows 10 there are 9 layers of UI plastered one on top of another, hiding the old mess with new chrome and polish. Now it looks like Windows 11 adds a 10th layer of craptastic-ness on top of the crap sandwich that is Windows. It’s just lazy and irresponsible development and design.
It goes all the way back to DOS icons in a Windows 3.1 DLL. Hell, I remember using that DLL to add icons to DOS app PIFs in Windows v3. Crap, I’m old !!
Check out State of the Windows: How many layers of UI inconsistencies are in Windows 10? for all the fugly details hidden in Windows.
This kinda crap is what drives me bananas about Windows, and is infuriating. And as a technical user, I have to deal with this mess often.
My thanks to John Gruber of Daring Fireball for reminding me about this mess.
By comparison, Apple does not do this crap with macOS. I’ve used every version of Windows ever, and every version of macOS since 2010. Apple puts in the work, and has the commitment and the courage to abandon ancient tech to build a better product. Microsoft just doesn’t.
Looks Like Windows 11 Is Not Going To Fix This Mess Either
Check out this Windows 11 screen shot that I got from the Tweet below, that illustrates that Windows 11 has the same baggage full of crap in it that every Windows version since at least Windows 95 has had. This screen shot has baggage not just from Windows 10, but 7, Vista and all the way back to Windows 2000.
Lipstick On A Pig
This comment to the tweet above sums it up quite well.
- 2021 Microsoft Windows Event on YouTube.
- Windows Insider – Windows 11 page
- Introducing Windows 11, June 24, 2021 – Microsoft Experience Blog
- What Windows 11 Means for Developers, June 24, 2021 – Microsoft Developer Blog
- Leaked Windows 11 software on YouTube.
- List of Microsoft Windows versions at Wikipedia
- Windows/386 at Wikipedia
- History of Microsoft Office at Wikipedia
- History of Windows CE, Pocket PC and Windows Mobile at Wikipedia
- History of the iPhone at Wikipedia
- CERN 2019 WorldWideWeb Rebuild
- CERN 2019 WorldWideWeb Rebuild history section – lists the web browsers and servers and the years they were released.
- NeXTSTEP OS on Wikipedia
- State of the Windows: How many layers of UI inconsistencies are in Windows 10?
- United States v. Microsoft Corp. on Wikipedia – case against Microsoft over their monopoly abuse.