Over the last few weeks, Windows has been thrust into the limelight in a way we haven’t seen for almost six years. After Microsoft announced an event for 24 June, speculation surrounding a potential Windows 11 reveal went into overdrive.
The leaking of an early build ahead of time took away the surprise element, but plenty of people still tuned in for the official announcement of ‘the next generation of Windows’. Many have since downloaded the first Windows 11 beta, and interest is set to remain high until its expected October release date.
Understandably, much of the focus around Windows 11 has been on its new features. There’s been a significant visual overhaul, all-new multitasking features and the ability to natively run Android apps, to name just a few.
You could be forgiven for assuming that all the best features from Windows 10 would make their way to Windows 11, but that’s not the case. There are a few notable omissions in Windows 11, which might come as a surprise if you take advantage of the free upgrade.
Timeline was only introduced to Windows 10 in the April 2018 feature update, making it relatively short-lived. It’s strange to see the feature dropped for Windows 11, as it’s genuinely useful for a lot of people.
Available within Task View, Timeline allows you to track your last 30 days of history across all devices signed in with your Microsoft account. This allows you to seamlessly jump back into what you were doing, and was recently expanded to include individual tabs from the Edge browser.
It’s strange to see that there’s no place for Timeline within the redesigned Task View, although maybe it hasn’t been as popular as Microsoft had hoped.
Using Windows 10 as a tablet has long been one of its main weaknesses, although it does still have a dedicated tablet mode. This switches to a Windows 8-style tile layout, with larger icons and full-screen apps.
Microsoft specifically focused on touch input at the Windows 11 reveal, but it appears the dedicated mode is gone. An improved on-screen keyboard and bigger spaces between icons (to avoid accidental touches) will make a difference, but much more is needed to make Windows 11 intuitive as a touchscreen device. Maybe a separate mode would still make sense?
However, due to the separation of Notifications and Quick Settings in Windows 11, the latter is no longer available via a single swipe from the right of the screen. Now, you’ll need to swipe and tap on the taskbar – this feels clunky, especially if you’re using an app full screen.
Some taskbar features
Most people stick with the horizontal taskbar arrangement you get by default in Windows 10, but this can quickly be customised in Settings. If you’d rather a boxier display or want to switch things up, the vertical arrangement might be for you.
Unfortunately, this isn’t an option in Windows 11. You can easily move the newly-centralised icons back to the left side, but the taskbar will remain at the bottom of the screen while you use your PC.
Some of the Windows 10 taskbar icons will be removed too, including ‘People’, while individual apps are no longer allowed to change how the taskbar looks.
In more recent preview builds, Microsoft has removed yet more taskbar functionality. As Windows Latest reports, the ability to drag and drop files directly into apps on the taskbar is no longer available. Microsoft has acknowledged that the feature isn’t currently supported, but the weight of public opinion may see the company change its mind.
Also, almost all the options that appear when right-clicking the Windows 10 taskbar have disappeared, with just ‘Taskbar settings’. Those that are still relevant in Windows 11 are still available elsewhere, but it feels complicated by comparison.
With that in mind, there is a way to get the Windows 10 taskbar back. However, it involves making changes to the Registry, so we’d only recommend it for experienced users. Navigate to ‘HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionShellUpdatePackages’ via the Registry, create a new DWORD (32-bit) called “UndockingDisabled” and set its value to 1. Then restart your PC and the changes will be applied.
Live Tiles in Start Menu
The Start Menu has arguably undergone the biggest design changes of anywhere in Windows 11. It has a very different look and feel to the one you’ll find on Windows 10, with a list of customisable ‘Pinned’ icons and cloud-powered ‘Recommended’ section.
That means you’ll have to do without Live Tiles, a mainstay of the Start Menu since Windows 8’s introduction in 2012. Much of the news, weather and information from other apps will now be available via Windows 11’s new ‘Widgets’ feature, but it’s not quite the same.
Alongside this, you’ll no longer be able to create custom groups of apps. Pinning apps to the main screen is the best alternative available.
News and Interests
The News and Interests tab was recently added to Windows 10, providing an easy way to get an overview of top stories, weather and travel information near you. It will continue to be available until Windows 10 stops being supported in 2025, but it’s been replaced with a more extensive ‘Widgets’ view in Windows 11. This is expected to support third-party apps further down the line.
Internet Explorer (IE) has been on borrowed time for a while now, and it will no longer be supported after 15 June 2022.
With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that Internet Explorer will not come pre-installed with Windows 11. It means the new operating system will be the first version of Windows without IE for more than two decades, but this shouldn’t affect the way you use your PC at all.
We’d advise against using Internet Explorer at all, even if it will still be available to download in Windows 11.
Microsoft initially launched Cortana back in 2014, pitching it as a direct rival to Siri and the Google Assistant. It arrived just a few months before the Amazon debuted the first smart speaker (powered by Alexa) in the US, but has fallen well behind the competition in recent years. Microsoft even admitted in 2019 that no longer sees Cortana as a rival to the more established voice assistants on the market.
Cortana is directly integrated into Windows 10 and forms a key part of the setup process, but its influence on Windows 11 will be scaled back significantly. It won’t be involved in setup anymore or available within the Start Menu – indeed, a separate Cortana app is the only evidence it’s still around.
While we’re on the subject, Microsoft is also dropping Skype integration in favour of Microsoft Teams.
Legacy snipping tool
For many years, the pre-installed Snipping tool app was the easiest way to take screenshots in Windows 10. It was replaced by the more capable ‘Snip & Sketch’ in 2018, and won’t be making the move to Windows 11. The new tool in Windows 11 will be known as the ‘Snipping tool’, but its functionality will be more in keeping with Snip & Sketch.
Here is a first look at the new #Windows11 Snipping Tool. Coming to #WindowsInsiders soon! Great work from the team #pumped pic.twitter.com/pvlhKp1Eia
— Panos Panay (@panos_panay)
August 4, 2021
Other pre-installed apps
Did you know Windows 10 had a built-in Wallet app? Like the equivalent app on iOS, it allowed you to store all your cards and other passes in one place. However, its usefulness is limited on desktop, especially when there isn’t a dedicated mobile app available.
It’s being ditched in Windows 11, along with the the Math Input Panel and Math Recognizer. The following will also no longer come pre-installed:
- 3D Viewer
- OneNote for Windows 10
- Paint 3D
S mode in Windows 11 Pro
Windows 11 will still have the option for S mode, where downloads are limited to the Microsoft Store. However, it’ll now only be an option within the Home version – Windows 10 Pro is also compatible with S mode.
Personalisation options linked to Microsoft account
This is a strange one. On Windows 10, personalisation options such as the desktop background would be consistent across all devices signed into the same Microsoft account.
For some reason, this won’t be the case on Windows 11 – these options will be device-specific. This might be preferable for some people, but having the option to choose would be nice.
Windows 11 is a significant step forward for Microsoft’s desktop OS. However, as you can see here, it’s not an upgrade in all areas.
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