If you're adjacent to IT circles, you might've heard the news that Windows 11 is coming out sometime soon - and also that Microsoft is planning a Windows 365 "Thin client" version of Windows. You might be asking yourself, what does this all mean, I only just started getting used to Windows 10! Well, I'm here to answer your questions, or some of them. To summarise, Windows 11 isn't much different, to the extent that many people are calling it a repackaging of Windows 10. I think this is more-or-less the case. The biggest change is that Windows 11 will only run on computers made in 2018 or above.
Does that mean you need to upgrade your computer? Not yet; Windows 10 will still be supported until 2025, so you've got another 4 years. And why, you may well ask, is Microsoft phasing out older equipment? The corporate line is that they're trying to implement a system that is very secure, and only those machines contain certain hardware (TPM2) which enables that. That, as far as I'm concerned, is not true. There are certain hardware and software manufacturers who benefit from people buying new machines, and they are involved in the push for the newer security features.
Microsoft benefits because they don't have to put effort into supporting old equipment or making their system run fast. For the hardware manufacturers it is likely to be an effort to kill off the 2nd-hand computer market. Given that computers haven't gotten significantly faster in the past 10 years, the best way to speed up your computer is to replace older hard drives with solid state drives, not upgrade. So this is a middle finger to the consumer, at a time when the world economy is being ravaged by a pandemic.
So is Windows 11 bad news? Yes, pretty much. It offers nothing in advance of what Windows 10 does, and Windows 10 is not a reliable platform by any measure. It will have environmentally devastating effects as people needlessly upgrade perfectly suitable computers for no end gain. Microsoft's corporate greed is legendary, as always. That brings us to "Windows 365", which is a 'cloud-only' subscription-based version of Windows which streams from a server online, meaning you use it with a low-spec machine without much local storage - all your documents are stored somewhere on the internet.
Why would Microsoft be interested in such a thing? Because it gives them more control of the market, your data and your life. It provides new ways to extract money from the consumer, and no ability to switch to another operating system like Linux. Avoid this at all costs - it is not a 'friendly option', but a tactical strike. If you're using your computer only for web browsing and checking your email, I would say the time to switch operating systems is about Now. For those of you who, like myself, have programs which will only run on Windows, and whose computers predate 2018, your best option is to stick with Windows 10 for as long as you can, and hope that a consumer backlash affects Microsoft's bottom line enough that they consider changing tactics.
2023 UPDATE: Windows 11 now runs on older hardware, with the caveat being that Microsoft explicitly state that future updates may-or-may-not break support for old hardware. Personally I think this is unlikely, but it's possible that it could occur.
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