Will Windows 11 disappoint?

Will it impress? Will it take Windows into a prosperous future?

I was going to write up some sort of article for today’s newsletter detailing what I want to see in Windows 11, but that idea’s been executed plenty of times already. Then, I considered doing one final roundup of rumors on what to expect in Windows 11, but again, there are plenty of those articles out there you can read. At that point, I considered publishing an explainer on how to watch Microsoft’s keynote where Windows 11 will be announced, but that idea got swallowed by a single link.

My job is to give you perspective and clarity when it comes to tech news. It’s what I’ve been doing for nearly six years, and I plan to make it a foundational part of my career moving forward. But I have to tell you, dear reader, that Windows 11 is an extremely polarizing piece of software, or at least it seems like it will be.

Because of that, none of the article ideas I listed earlier would justify the thoughts actually floating around in my head: will Windows 11 excite people, will it disappoint them, and will it dictate the future of the operating system as a whole?

When the leaked Windows 11 build surfaced, many were quick to install it and discover what was new. I was one of those people, and it was quickly determined that expectations shouldn’t be set by it because of how few new features there were. Obviously, the new Start menu, updated iconography, and some new graphics were onboard, but fundamental changes like a new Microsoft Store and redesigned system-level interfaces were left out.

We know there’s probably a new Microsoft Store on the horizon, but beyond that, expectations lie in the arena of incremental changes like most Windows updates. These updates added up, and you’re looking at an operating system that may be unworthy of its new name.

The way things seem right now, it looks like Microsoft will be updating some user-focused areas of the OS and leaving everything else untouched. That way, it can make consumers and corporations happy at once.

This would suck. I’m not sure there’s ever been more demand for a complete rethinking of Windows than there is right now. Many are calling for a total uprooting of Windows and a fresh start with Windows 11, complete with the lack of having to keep tabs on driver and BIOS updates. I touched on it a bit in a recent newsletter.

I’d also like to share an important feature Microsoft should include in Windows 11, per Rich Woods at XDA-Developers: it should just work. People like macOS because it just works. There are no drivers to install, you don’t have to worry about executable packages and in what directory applications get installed, there’s no need to stay on top of BIOS updates – everything just works.

I’m not saying Microsoft will go that far with Windows 11 (in fact, I’d be surprised if they even entered the same ballpark as this level of simplicity). But something definitely has to change to make Windows 11 more inviting and friendly to every kind of user, including those who want to turn on their computer and let the OS fade into the background.

So far, with every new version of Windows 10, Microsoft has decided to update frequently-visited areas of the OS and leave everything else intact. With Windows 11, that could happen again, with Microsoft using the new Start menu and simplified UI to distract people from that janky aspect.

On the other hand, Microsoft could take the stage at its event today and unveil a completely rethought, rebuilt version of Windows that will be friendlier and fade into the background more easily. Everything’s still on the table at this point since Windows 11 isn’t official yet. This would not only make Windows a better alternative to macOS, but it’ll ignite hype that hasn’t been associated with the OS since the early days of Windows 10 in 2015.

This would certainly not disappoint fans of Windows, but there’s no indication that it’ll happen. The most reliable information we have indicates an update to Windows that some might call underwhelming.

That takes us to the third thought floating around in my head: will Windows 11 dictate where the OS is going in the future?

If I were in charge of this release, I would go big no matter what. After all, if not now, when? I get that Microsoft has a unique experience that no one else replicates, but being able to change the registry with a few short keystrokes isn’t something a lot of people require in their daily lives. At least, no one on macOS has ever asked for something like that.

Maybe it’s finally time to rethink Windows and make it more approachable to more people. That would blaze a new trail for the OS and finally move users into a generation of computing that doesn’t require updating drivers and killing apps with Task Manager every now and then.

These are all questions and theories I’ll (hopefully) have answers to in a matter of hours. I’m very curious as to how Microsoft will position Windows 11 and where it intends for it to go moving forward. Of course, I’ll have coverage in tomorrow’s newsletter, so stay tuned for more hot takes.

News I’m watching

iPhone 14

Ming-Chi Kuo has published some thoughts and predictions for next year’s iPhone 14 lineup. According to Kuo (via 9to5Mac), Apple will sell two 6.1-inch iPhones and two 6.7-inch models next year, with no miniature iPhone anywhere in the mix. One of the 6.7-inch models will simply be called iPhone 14 Max and start at below $900, something Apple’s never done with its larger phones. In addition, the devices are said to come with in-display Touch ID and a 48MP wide camera.

I’d expect these rumors to change over the next year, though, so take them with a grain of salt.

Android 12.1

Google has released an updated version of the Android 12 beta, Android 12.1, to testers. The patch fixes a lot of the issues with the first beta like not being able to unlock your phone with a PIN, no weather or calendar data in the At a Glance widget on the homescreen, jittery and buggy animations, microphone and camera permission bugs, and more. The update’s rolling out now to everyone part of the Android Beta program.

Samsung Galaxy Watch Active 4

Samsung’s “reimagined” smartwatch, the Galaxy Watch Active 4, has leaked in a set of renders from OnLeaks and GizNext. The renders show off a watch with a nearly bezel-less display, a couple of side buttons, and a simple overall design. It’ll be sold in four different colors and come in 40mm and 44mm sizes. We also know it’ll run the new Wear operating system, the result of a merger between Samsung’s Tizen for smartwatches and Google’s Wear OS. We’ll learn more on June 28th at an event during MWC 2021 so stay tuned.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 4

Lenovo has unveiled a new line of laptops headlined by the ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 4. It’s powered by Intel’s 11th-generation processors (up to an i9 H-series processor with vPro), Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 graphics, up to 64GB of RAM, up to two 2TB SSDs for storage, and a 90Wh battery. The display measures 16-inches and has a 16:10 aspect ratio. Quad HD+ and UHD+ resolutions are offered along with 600 nits of peak brightness and Dolby Vision HDR support. You can also get 5G if you want.

The entire package will cost $2,150 when it launches in August.

Twitter

Twitter has updated its iOS app to support sharing tweets to Instagram Stories. Now, when you select the share menu on a tweet, you’ll have the option of sharing it directly to your Story on Instagram, no screenshot required.

Instagram

In the Instagram world, the company is testing an algorithm change that will add suggested posts to your primary feed, which means posts from people you don’t follow could soon come before posts from people you actually follow and care about. They’ll give you some control over when to see the posts and what categories you want, but it feels like an interruption to the core Instagram experience if I’m being honest. Right now, it’s just a small test, but there’s always a chance it rolls out to everyone.

Peacock & Fire TV

If you own a Fire TV or Fire tablet and want to watch The Office, today’s your lucky day. NBC’s Peacock app is now available for both of these platforms. Peacock says Fire TVs dating back to second-gen versions are supported, as are Fire tablets running at least Fire OS 5. In the future, Alexa support will be added to the streaming service so you can search for content using your voice.

T-Mobile 5Gin

I’d like to conclude today’s newsletter with one of the more ridiculous stories I’ve come across. T-Mobile, one of the three major US carriers and my carrier of choice, has gone so far with marketing 5G that it’s decided to manufacture (I kid you not) “T-Mobile 5Gin.” Yes, an actual bottle of gin with T-Mobile and 5G logos all over the label that’ll cost $30. T-Mobile will also sell a six-pack of T-Mobile 5Ginger Beer for $10, which I’ll be buying.

Both of these spoof products will go on sale today at 3 p.m. ET.

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