Is Windows 11 a flop?

Windows 11 was released unto the world on October 5, which is a little less than three months ago. It’s worth pointing out that like Windows 10 and Windows 8.1, it was a free upgrade to those who qualified. It brought a visual refresh, a new and heightened level of security, and overall better function for many users.

And yet, no one talks about it. I don’t know how many people have upgraded to it. I will tell you, dear readers, that I haven’t. My roughly three-year-old gaming laptop, which was nearing top-of-the-line at the time, doesn’t qualify due to its 7th generation Intel processor. I know very few people who do qualify for the upgrade, free or not. I personally know of no businesses that have rolled out Windows 11 Enterprise at scale, although that’s not uncommon. Businesses usually wait a few months before rolling out this kind of big change. And that makes me ask the question…

Does anyone care about Windows 11?

Microsoft has a long history of rolling out the right product at the wrong time. Windows Vista was an excellent product that rebuilt a lot of processes in ways that are still used today. But it flopped because the hardware wasn’t ready for it. Windows 8 brought a new aesthetic that might be welcomed in today’s world of Surface-branded laptops. But in the desktop-driven world of 2011, it was a flop. After each revolutionary release there’s been another release that’s fallen back, given users something comfortable, and failed to move the world of computing forward.

It’s beginning to look like Windows 11 is another right product at the wrong time. If Microsoft had waited until five full years worth of computers could use it, it might have succeeded like gangbusters. But by limiting its availability to only 2-3 years’ worth of users, it’s got limited appeal.

Yeah but does anyone care about any desktop OS? Or any OS for that matter?

You can argue that today’s OS designs are pretty set in stone. Apple’s iOS really doesn’t look or act much differently than it did half a decade ago, and neither does Android. People like not having to learn a completely new process just to send a text.

And I’ve argued before that people use their PCs mostly for work and to do things like pay bills. They don’t want to explore the weird and wonderful things that PCs can do. That’s not untrue either and it’s a big reason why people are buying Chromebooks. But I think you can also say that Mac OS is still innovating. They make changes that their users largely embrace, and when they make a mistake in beta they change things back before the thing goes live.

I think it is very possible for people to regain the love and passion they once had for PCs, by giving them a beautifully designed operating system. In a lot of ways that’s what Microsoft did with Windows 11. It’s really finely crafted, and even if I don’t agree with some of the design choices I’ll admit they thought it all through.

But Windows 11, like Windows RT, Windows 8, Vista, Windows ME, and even Windows 2, risks being marked as a misstep from Microsoft. I foresee a very long adoption process for it, and it’s pretty clear Microsoft does too, since they’re still actively developing fixes for Windows 10. And if Windows 11 gets the stink of failure on it, Microsoft will probably do another “makeup” version of Windows that reverts everyone back to familiar territory.

What can you do now?

I think that Microsoft probably should have shelved Windows 11 for another year or opened it up to an older generation of computers. Then, they could have had a more robust user base. They should have listened to people who just wanted a few harmless user interface features restored, instead of fomenting bitterness and giving rise to another cottage industry of software designed to fix Microsoft’s shortsightedness.

But what can you do now? I think the easiest thing is for Microsoft to look at the top five requested features for Windows 11 and let people have those options. I don’t know for sure what they are, but whatever they are just put them out there. And then keep developing Windows 11 as a beautiful and functional operating system. Take away the top complaints and be patient. People will come around. It’s just going to take time.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.