Microsoft’s next major operating system update, Windows 11, is set to be announced this month, and while we have a general idea of what to expect, some details remain a mystery. It all comes down to Sun Valley when it comes to everything we know about Windows 11. That’s the codename for the new OS’s major visual overhaul. You’ll notice rounded corners and other details, but until the event on June 24th, we can only speculate. So now appears to be the ideal time to discuss the features we’d like to see in Windows 11.
We’d like to see the following features in Windows 11:
- Live wallpaper
- PowerToys integration
- Free Microsoft Office
- Smart home controls
- Built-in screen recording
- Better inbuilt apps
- Seamless updates
- Xbox games
- The death of Live Tiles
- One-click uninstallation
- No more ads
- Better touch controls
- For it to work
I’m fine with us stealing some of these features from iOS and Android. A large portion of this wish list is devoted to making Windows a more modern operating system capable of competing with Android and iOS. Both Android and Apple are looking to occupy spaces in the consumer PC market, with foldable in the Android space and the emergence of M1 in the Apple space. If Windows is to survive another decade in the consumer market, it must adapt.
So, let’s take a look at some native Windows 11 live wallpaper support. It’s been available on Android for more than a decade, so if a single-core smartphone can do it, so can a Windows PC. It’s even supported by Microsoft on Xbox consoles. We have methods for getting third-party alternatives to work on Windows, but official support is long overdue.
Installing the feature on a modern laptop running Windows 11 should be simple. It’s easy to say it’s possible on Android because of ARM processors, but ARM is now available on Windows as well. Intel chips are also much more efficient today than they were a decade ago.
Okay, I’m not interested in PowerToys as a feature in Windows 11. I simply want to see some of the PowerToys features integrated into the OS so that all users can benefit from them. This has happened before. PowerToys was designed for power users when it was first released all those years ago, and some of its features were eventually integrated into the OS.
Here are a few illustrations. Window layouts can be created with Fancy Zones. In fact, I considered adding proper support for ultra-wide monitors, but Fancy Zones should suffice. You can only run two apps at a time on Windows. Split-screen works well on a regular 16:9 monitor, but not so well on an ultra-wide monitor.
Other features in Windows 11 would be useful, such as Image Resizer for quickly resizing images and PowerRename for bulk file renaming. Isn’t the goal to help people become more productive?
Free Microsoft Office
Is it true that I just said Microsoft Office is free? I know it sounds insane, but bear with me. I’m a Microsoft 365 Home subscriber who has no plans to stop anytime soon.
For one thing, Microsoft already offers a free web-based version of Office. It’s actually quite good and will suit the needs of the vast majority of people. On Windows 11, Microsoft could simply instal them as PWAs.
Most PCs currently offer a free trial of Microsoft 365, which Microsoft ultimately wants you to purchase. Allow people to begin with PWAs and then upgrade if necessary. It can be used in conjunction with Windows 11’s removal of ads and bloatware.
Smart Home Controls
This one is both easy and difficult at the same time. As an integrated feature in Windows 11, you should be able to control your smart home devices. One of the main ideas I had for this wish list was that I never wanted to suggest that people use their phones for specific tasks. No, the device I’m using right now, any device, should be able to do everything I need right now.
But this is where things get complicated. You’d need something like Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, or even Apple’s Siri for a powerful centralised hub of smart home controls. For reasons that are far beyond the scope of this article, Microsoft Cortana will not suffice.
The most important reason, however, is that Microsoft lacks smart home vendor partnerships. Google and Amazon do, but Microsoft isn’t about to give them top billing in its operating system.
Microsoft is unconcerned about your operating system as long as you use its services. However, there are some strange differences between what’s available on Windows and what’s available on iOS or Android. This is exemplified by Outlook.
Another example is the keyboard. The touch keyboard in Windows 10 is adequate. The team has put in a lot of effort, and it continues to add new features. But here’s a thought: use SwiftKey.
SwiftKey is a popular keyboard app for iOS and Android, and Microsoft now owns it. It’s fantastic, and I’d love to see it on Windows. It would also bring much-needed consistency between Windows and its mobile products. However, we’ll return to consistency later.
Built-in screen recording
Yes, Windows 10 allows you to record your screen. You can, but only in a roundabout way. You can choose to record games using the Xbox Game Bar, and you can also tell it that certain apps are games and have them recorded as well. However, this workaround does not work with all apps.
You’ll need a third-party app right now if you just want to record your entire screen and everything that happens on it. Screen recorders are built-in on Android and iOS, and it’s time for Windows 11 to follow suit. Microsoft must be aware of the demand for screen recording on Windows, and it would be ideal if this occurred in a timely manner.
Better pre-installed apps
Groove Music appears to be a holdover from Microsoft’s previous subscription music service. It’s now merely a default music player, but it still appears to be something that isn’t quite right for what it is. Movies & TV is another example of this problem, as no one in their right mind would buy movies or shows from Microsoft. Because the service is only available on Xbox and Windows, the Movies & TV app effectively becomes a default video player, and the product, like Groove, feels out of place.
Let’s just hope that Windows 11 comes with better built-in apps. There was a time when Microsoft put a lot of effort into doing this right. Let’s try it again.
Outside of the enthusiast community, it’s clear that everyone despises Windows updates. Most people just want to turn on their computer, get to work, and turn it off when they’re done, whether it’s a big feature update or a quality update.
However, when it comes to a modern operating system, Microsoft should prioritize seamless updates. It’s something we’ve seen on Android and Chromebooks already. Android is an even better example, because when your phone updates, there’s a lot going on in the background, and then there’s a lot going on after it reboots.
Let’s get rid of the time between when you restart your computer to install and update Windows 11 and when it boots up. That reboot time should be the same as any other reboot time. Allow for more seamless updates that do not divert customers’ attention away from what they need to do and when they need to do it. It’s not a good way to start the day by staring at a blue “Windows is updating” screen for several minutes.
Microsoft has placed a renewed emphasis on gaming throughout the life of Windows 10. Gaming chief Phil Spencer is now a member of Microsoft’s senior leadership team, which isn’t the case for Windows and Devices chief Panos Panay. However, it makes sense. Windows is without a doubt the most viable PC gaming platform, and Microsoft also has a console. That’s not all; the most important feature is that it uses a cloud-based back-end.
Xbox Play Anywhere is a feature offered by Microsoft. These games are compatible with both Windows 10 and Xbox consoles, allowing you to buy once and play anywhere. With more games in the Microsoft Store and Xbox Game Pass, there’s also a renewed focus on PC gaming.
But please, just let me play Xbox games. You can play Halo: The Master Chief Collection on your PC in preparation for Halo: Infinite, but you won’t be able to play Halo 5 because it’s only available on Xbox. This would be a one-of-a-kind feature in Windows 11.
While it may appear straightforward because Microsoft owns both platforms and could theoretically bring them together, this is not the case. Because video game licencing is complicated, there could be other issues with porting actual Xbox games to the PC. In the meantime, we’ll have to rely on Xbox Game Streaming to keep us entertained.
The death of Live Tiles
Live Tiles have been slowly fading away, but I’d like to go all-in and say that all tiles must be removed. They’re an out-of-date relic from the Windows Phone era.
If you’re not familiar with Live Tiles, they’re square or rectangular shortcuts to apps that display dynamically changing information. You might have an email app with a Live Tile that shows a preview of your most recent email, for example. It was similar to a notification center on your home screen on Windows Phone 8.
This was brought to the desktop with Windows 10, where they were even more useless. They’re located in the Start Menu, so you’ll have to open it to read them. Live Tiles have gradually faded away, and Tiles have evolved to be more stylish, transparent, and consistent with the theme.
However, get rid of them. In Windows 11, anything with sharp edges must be removed. Simply provide us with simpler icons to click on, as with any other operating system.
This one is pretty straightforward. There are two methods for uninstalling apps in Windows 10. If the app was downloaded from the Microsoft Store, you can uninstall it by right-clicking it in the Start Menu and selecting ‘uninstall’. For everything else, and this includes most apps, go to the Control Panel, find the list of apps, double-click on the one you want to uninstall, and follow the software vendor’s uninstall instructions.
Please start with the first option for all apps. Allow me to uninstall with a right-click. Let’s make it a Windows 11 feature.
Store apps, whether Win32 or UWP, are more modern because they’re packaged. It makes them as simple to remove as they are on modern operating systems such as Android and iOS. Unpackaged Win32 apps downloaded from the internet simply scatter files throughout your system, altering registries and other settings in the process.
There are several options for dealing with this. One option is to ensure that all apps are packaged, which can be done during the installation process. Another option is for Windows 11 to be smarter about cleaning up uninstalled apps. However, if it does the latter, my second request is that the OS double-check that everything is gone.
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Windows 8 was the first version of the operating system to include an app store, but it was a flop. Few companies developed apps for it, and those that did wouldn’t update them. When Windows 10 was released, Microsoft announced a major victory by announcing that Candy Crush Saga would be coming to the operating system.
The second half of the announcement was that Candy Crush Saga would be pre-installed on every Windows 10 installation. That was the start of advertising in Windows. There was a slew of other apps that followed suit, and it was often dependent on the PC being used. Bloatware used to come from OEMs, but with Windows 10 and OEMs building Signature PCs, bloatware now comes directly from Microsoft.
With Windows 11, this should be resolved. Only inbuilt apps such as Mail, Calendar, OneNote, Photos, and others should be pre-installed.
Aside from that, we require fewer advertisements. I get a notification in Windows every time I set up a new PC to activate a Microsoft 365 trial. Even though I’m signed in with my Microsoft account and am already a subscriber, this happens. Let’s also bring back Solitaire and Minesweeper, which are currently available in the Microsoft Store but are cluttered with advertisements.
Let’s go back to the days of Windows 7, when the operating system was just that: the operating system. It serves as a link between the user and the apps they want to use. Stop trying to sell me things and stop bombarding me with pop-ups urging me to try out new features; just let me open Edge and get on with my work.
Let’s keep things simple. I don’t want the feature in Windows 11 if it has a call to action or if it’s a pop-up that I have to clear in order to return to my workflow.
Better touch controls
Windows 8 was an operating system that appeared to be made specifically for touchscreen devices. When Windows 10 was released, the goal was to combine the best features of Windows 7 and Windows 8 into a single product. However, if you use a tablet, you may have noticed that Microsoft took a step backwards.
Touch-enabled PCs should be a good fit for Windows 11, and that’s one feature we already know is coming. If you don’t believe me when I say that a Surface Pro 7 doesn’t have the same level of touch sensitivity as an iPad, you haven’t tried one. However, this is the issue with Windows. iPadOS was designed from the ground up to be a touch-first platform. This wasn’t the case with Windows.
Consistency always seems to be the Achilles’ heel of Windows. This is a problem that stretches back to the Windows 8 era, where we had separate desktop and Metro environments. Even though Windows 10 cleaned some things up, the consistency issue got worse.
With Windows 10, we still had the legacy Win32 apps, and we had the Windows 8 Metro apps, but we also got new UWP apps. They all looked pretty clearly different. And then it got even worse.
A couple of years after Windows 10 came out, Microsoft announced the Fluent Design System. Fluent was set to arrive in phases, and that basically meant that it was going to evolve over time. It had elements like Acrylic transparency, and the whole idea was that it was one design system that would work well between 2D and 3D environments. After all, UWP apps were supposed to work on anything between a traditional computer and a mixed reality headset.
For it to work
Just toss the rest in the trash. Make it happen. Every time I get a BSOD on my computer, it sends a message to Microsoft. Examine each and every bug report in Windows 11 and fix them all. That is all there is to it. That is a Windows 11 feature, and it is the best there is.
Please don’t make me reinstall drivers. In fact, I don’t want to think about the Device Manager for the rest of my life. When I first started using the new iMac, that was one of the first things I noticed. My printer was right there when I went to print. On a Windows PC, I go to print, then choose the option to add a new printer, then it launches Settings, then I choose the option to add a printer again, then it searches for printers on my network, then I instal the printer, and finally, I have to restart the print dialogue on the document that I was trying to print because Windows isn’t smart enough to add it for me.
Please don’t get me wrong. It’s a near-miracle that Windows functions at all. Windows 10 is currently installed on over 1.3 billion devices, with thousands of different configurations, CPUs, GPUs, RAM, storage, manufacturers, peripherals, and so on. Apple obviously only needs to work with a few different operating systems. And, yes, Windows is 99 percent reliable. When it doesn’t, however, it’s incredibly aggravating.