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Windows 11 full review: what we learned from the first build

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Milan Stanojevic

by Milan Stanojevic

Deputy Editor




Milan has been enthusiastic about PCs ever since his childhood days, and this led him to take interest in all PC-related technologies. Before joining WindowsReport, he worked as a front-end web developer. Read more






  • Windows Insiders finally got their hands on Windows 11, so join us for first look at Windows 11 build 22000.51.

  • Windows 11 brings many new features most notably a new user interface with rounded corners.

  • Start Menu has been redesigned as well, and it’s now positioned on the center of the screen.

  • If you want to know more about Windows 11 Insider preview bugs, be sure to keep reading.



Windows 11 was announced recently, and now Windows Insiders got the chance to finally take a look at Windows 11 on their own.


Unfortunately, many users reported getting a PC can’t run Windows 11 message that prevented them from installing Windows 11, but we managed to install and try out the latest build on an ASUS TUF 15 gaming laptop.





We understand how eager everybody is to find out more details about the first released build of Windows 11, and because not everybody is participating in the Windows Insider program, we decided to help.


Thus, we created a hands-on and in-depth review of this build to keep you updated with the way Windows 11 looks and feels now, and update you about how it will evolve across time in other similar articles.


So what does Windows 11 build 22000.51 offer to its users? Join us for this first look while we examine all the new features.


But first, let’s take a look at some unexpected elements found interesting in Windows 11:



  • The Start button in a central position






  • The Refresh button is gone






  • File Explorer still looks like in Windows 10






  • Folder thumbnail previews are gone






  • The Show Desktop button is gone






  • Settings app is completely revamped






  • Microsoft Store is completely redesigned





Let’s have a look at the first version of Windows 11


Redesigned user interface


We’ve all been waiting for a while now to get a fresh feel of a new Windows OS, and Microsoft didn’t disappoint in this department.


Windows 11 comes with a fresh and sleek user interface that impressed us with great-looking rounded corners for windows as well as new animations, but the surprises don’t end here.


Here are more details about what is actually changed from the good old Windows 10 OS:



  • Start Menu and Taskbar


The element that drew our attention from the first second is the changes of the Taskbar and the Start Menu which are now centered in Windows 11.


Many users might not like this change, but luckily there’s an option to move the taskbar back to the left side.


We liked how this element now makes the screen look cleaner and the icons from the taskbar take a centered position. In our view, this change makes perfect sense, as there is a very specific reason for having the icons in the taskbar in the first place – quick access.





Unfortunately, the taskbar is now static, and on Windows 11 you can only pin the Taskbar to the bottom of your screen. This means that you can’t move it to any other side, like in previous versions of Windows.


In our opinion, not being able to pin the taskbar on other sides of the screen doesn’t affect the workflow and usability of the new Windows 11, as we preferred the taskbar at the bottom of the screen anyway.


This, of course, doesn’t mean that some users might not be affected badly by this detail. We are almost sure that this is easily fixable with further updates and other customization options that will be released in the future, both by Microsoft, and other Windows 11 enthusiasts.


Start Menu has been streamlined, and it now shows pinned applications as well as recommended apps and files. The search feature is still there, and it works almost identically to its Windows 10 counterpart.


Having the Start Menu so central on the taskbar, while the taskbar icons are close to it makes it even easier for us to access the important applications in our opinion.






  • Redesigned Action Center


The notification center, previously known as Action Center now looks a lot more professional and comprehensive than the Action Center from Windows 10.


The full redesign not only makes it easier to use but the information is presented in a more easily observable way, the colors also helping.


Because of the way the information is presented, the size is considerably smaller, thus making it look a lot slicker. We absolutely love the changes brought to this element.





Settings are no longer available in the Action Center, and now you can find them in a separate Quick Settings section that you access by clicking the volume/network icon in the Taskbar.





Speaking of settings, the Settings app went through some massive changes, and now it comes with a sidebar allowing you to quickly access any section with just a single click.





Besides the new layout, there are new and colorful icons, as well as breadcrumbs for easier navigation.


File Explorer has been redesigned as well, and this is one of the most anticipated design changes. The default icons have been updated with a fresh and new look that matches the new user interface.





The context menu has been revamped so it blends perfectly with the new interface. There are new themes and sounds available, allowing you to customize your Windows 11 experience any way you want.





Last on the list of redesigned components is the Microsoft Store, and now it comes with a sidebar allowing you to easily switch between different categories, such as Games, Apps, and Entertainment.





Widgets


Widgets are back, but not as you remember them from the earlier versions of Windows. Instead, Widgets have a panel in which you can add, customize and disable widgets in Windows 11.



Windows Tiles are gone, and you won’t see them anymore in Start Menu, and instead, we got Widgets that feel almost identical to Windows Tiles but in their separate pane.


Multitasking improvements


Multitasking is a big part of the Windows experience, and if you’re a fan of multitasking, you’ll be pleased to know that virtual desktops are still available in Windows 11.





Window snapping has been improved as well and now you can choose between six different snap layouts simply by hovering over the maximize button. Sadly, this feature didn’t work for us in this build.


It seems that we’re not the only ones, and many users reported that Windows 11 Snap doesn’t work on older monitors properly, but we expect that to be fixed in near future.


Snap groups are a new feature in Windows 11, and if you’re snapping applications, you can now quickly go back to the applications that you have snapped.





To do that, you just need to hover over those apps on the Taskbar and select the snap group to go back to it. This is a simple but powerful feature that will surely make multitasking much more effective.


Docking also went through some changes, and now when you undock your laptop, all the windows on your external monitor will be minimized.


Once the laptop is connected to an external display, the windows on the external monitors will be restored, and you can continue where you left off.


Input improvements


Windows 11 Build 22000.51 brings various improvements in terms of input, and there’s a brand new voice typing feature available.





This version brings new and improved touch gestures so you can now easily switch back to the last used app, to your desktop, or open the Task View. There is also a new four-finger gesture, allowing you to switch easily between desktops.


The Pen menu is another great feature that lets you pin up to four different applications and access them quickly when using a pen.


Another feature that deserves a mention is the Dynamic Refresh Rate, and with it you can automatically boot the refresh rate when scrolling for example, to get a smoother scrolling experience.


Sadly, this feature is available only on selected laptops for the time being. The last feature that needs mentioning is the Wi-Fi 6E support that should provide you with 3x more Wi-Fi bandwidth, as long as you have the compatible hardware.


Known issues in Windows 11 Build 22000.51


General:



  • Certain features may be removed when upgrading to Windows 11 from Windows 10


Taskbar:



  • The Taskbar isn’t shown across multiple monitors

  • The preview window may not display the whole window when hovering over the Task View button


Settings:



  • Settings app fails to launch after upgrading the device with multiple user accounts to Windows 11

  • A small set of Settings legacy pages is still available

  • Power mode setting doesn’t appear on Power & batter page

  • Green flash when launching the Settings app for some users

  • When modifying Accessibility settings from Quick Settings, the settings UI might not save the selected setting


Start:



  • Some users were unable to enter text when using the Search feature from the Start or the Taskbar. You can fix that by pressing Windows Key + R and closing the Run dialog

  • There’s a known issue that is preventing users from unpinning apps from the Start Menu. This can make the command bar disappear in File Explorer or cause the snap to hide. To fix this, you need to restart your PC.


Search:



  • App icons in the Search panel may not load properly

  • When hovering over the Search icon on the Taskbar, the third recent search doesn’t load

  • The search panel might not open after clicking the Search icon on the Taskbar. You can fix this by restarting the Windows Explorer process

  • Recent searches might not get displayed when hovering over the Search icon. You can fix that by restarting your device

  • The search panel might appear black and not display any content below the input field


Widgets:



  • System text scaling will scale all widgets and it can result in cropped widgets

  • Opening links from the widgets pane may not invoke apps to the foreground

  • The content inside of widgets may not be properly announced when using Narrator

  • Widgets pane may appear empty. To fix that sign out and sign back in

  • When using Outlook client with Microsoft account, Calendar, and To Do, the changes might not sync to widgets in real-time

  • Widgets can be displayed in the wrong size on external monitors. To fix that, launch Widgets on your actual monitor and then on secondary monitors

  • After adding multiple widgets quickly from the widgets settings, some widgets may not be visible on the board


Store:



  • The install button might not work for some apps

  • Rating and reviews aren’t available for certain apps


This is the first look of Windows 11 build 22000.51, and so far, it looks pretty promising. The new user interface is a breath of fresh air and a welcome change.


This Build has a few issues, but that’s to be expected. Have you tried Windows 11 yet? If you haven’t, we have a great guide on how to download Windows 11, so be sure not to miss it.




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