I have to prefix this post with an apology – my aim was to get it up last week but I ended up losing track of time, lots of stuff happening at work, wanting to get into a good routine by going to bed early – I find that with the earlier starts due to taking public transport rather than using my 50cc scooter I have to get up earlier but funny enough if I were to start work at 11:30 am (getting out of bed at 10:00 am) then I’m fine with 8 hours sleep but if I start at 9:30 am (getting out of bed at 8:00 am) with the same amount of sleep then I am even more tired. I have to admit, I’m more of a night owl – in my previous life working in hospitality I worked the night shifts such as 4:00 pm to 1:00 am meaning I wouldn’t get home until maybe 2:00 am so my body was used to such a schedule. Ideally I’d love to go back to at least to being able to get up at 10:00 am but oh well, at least I have a job which is the important thing.
The much proposed reaction to the launch of Windows 11 – both the mainstream ‘livestream’ followed by the more developer centric live stream (the Microsoft equivalent of the WWDC keynote followed by the platform state of the union) – although they had problems streaming it (according to one of Brad Sams recent videos on YouTube the streaming platform crashed), the event eventually got off the ground and the public was rewarded with an optimistic vision of the future being offered by Microsoft while still remaining familiar.
There was a strong emphasis by Panos Panay (chief product officer) of moving the platform forward while still keeping it familiar. The emphasis being made to arrest concerns that this was going to bet a disruptive change, that there were going to be changes to the UI that would anger long time users, that compatibility will be broken etc. After Windows 8 I get the feeling that Microsoft want to reassure its user base, particularly the enthusiast community who are very much influencers (of friends and family) where they’re commonly referred to as ‘the one whose good with computers’) who can have an impact on whether there is wide spread adoption – fail to win them over and feel the consequences (see Windows Vista and Windows 8).
Part of what has been shown off is the new UI language which is very much inline with where I think Microsoft is wanting to take WinUi 3.0 (Project Reunion being the large project which WinUI 3.0 fits under) in the future. It still very much has the legacy UI visible given that the transition from Control Panel to Settings is still very much underway, the gradual componentisation of the Windows Shell (the Windows start menu is in its own process which has improved performance) so we could eventually see (based on the promotional material) a new shell using WinUI 3.0 but in the mean time Microsoft is wanting to make the UI a lot more visually pleasing.
The system specifications have increased since Windows 10, WDDM 2.0 is the minimum required thus making DirectX 12 the minimum supported, TPM 2.0, a relatively modern 64bit CPU etc. is an indicator to me that Windows 11 is a starting point by Microsoft to start pushing Windows 11 in a direction where future releases will take advantage of those higher specifications (Microsoft also have probably modelled future sales on Windows 11 being primarily through it being distributed through OEM channel as people upgrade their computers with a small number upgrading their their existing devices). For example, if you have a look at project unity, the work that was taking place with Windows 10X, I wouldn’t be surprised if we end up seeing win32 support pushed into a virtual machine (hence needing CPUs that support virtualisation) and the new native API becomes not necessarily a ground up clean room replacement to win32 but rather, taking the various components to give Microsoft developers the freedom to break compatibility in the process of modernise the frameworks so then eventually Project Reunion comes a modern framework that can span various version of Windows as well as various devices (see Xbox).
What I am happy to see is Microsoft’s willingness to get rid of complexity and features from the operating system such as removing Cortana, simplifying search so it is no longer the glorified mess where even the most basic searches turn into a disaster (see the many years of complaints regarding search in Windows 10) – I hope that it is a trend in the long run to eventually strip non-core features out of the system, push them into the store and upgrade them gradually over to a modern look and feel (with he benefit of users saving storage space by not having to install features they don’t need).
The developer preview that Microsoft has made available is still missing features such as Android application support along with Teams integration plus a few other features but there has been a cleaned up Explorer which I love:
Improvements like this along with rumours regarding the Pixel 6 and Android 12 make the idea of ‘jumping ship’ a lot more tempting given that the gap between Windows and macOS are closing the combine that with the great hardware being put out by Microsoft (the surface range of devices) along with the improved integration between Windows and Android devices via the Phone Companion application which enable one to send/receive text messages as well as make/answer phone calls in much the same way that one can do on macOS with an iOS device. There is a great video from Zac Bowden from Windows Central where he goes into detail showing off the visual changes.
To get a good incite into where Windows 11 is heading then check out ‘Windows App SDK’ over on github (link) where you’ll find a lot of the future development taking place when it comes to the frameworks Microsoft is working on for app developers. There is also plenty of discussion over on the Chromium developer mailing lists as well as the checking out the ‘What’s next with Microsoft Edge’ page (link) which covers Microsoft only features that Microsoft is working on, when they’ll come available – many of the features linking back to the Microsoft cloud or what they’re working on which will require new hardware such as ‘Control-flow Enforcement Technology (CET)’ which is an important feature for Windows 11 which is why the minimum specifications have been increased.
There has been some backlash regarding the increase in minimum specifications but in my not so humble opinion I think that Microsoft just needs to weather the storm and ignroe the noisy ‘enthusuasts’ – if Windows was designed by the incoherent demands of enthusiasts it would en up resembling something like the car Homer designed when he bet his long lost half brother. When you have a look at the security reasoning (link) along with reports of up to a 40% performance hit if you enable said features in Windows 10 on devices that don’t support said features in hardware mode then you quickly that Microsoft is doing it for the good of the customer as to avoid a fiasco like Vista again where those who had ‘Vista Basic’ badged devices had a horrible experience.
It’ll be interesting to see how the two competing platforms perform because at the moment I can’t help but find that the whole WWDC 21 this year was pretty depressing – and this is coming from a long time Mac user (20+ years) with a modest set of things that I would have loved to see Apple deliver on but haven’t done so for many years. For me what I would have loved to see is Apple implement the Webextension API so that at the very least it has feature parity and compatibility with Firefox (which would open up a huge market for developers to target Safari), to improve HTML5 compatibility so the I can use Amazon Connect (Amazon’s cloud based PBX solution) if I have to work from home because right now I have to go out of my way to install Chrome when ordinarily I prefer using Safari due to it being light weight.
When I mean depressing, what I saw was time and energy being spent on what I’d consider gimmicky features given that there are a laundry list of issues that Apple should be focusing on. I’ll give you that they have finally bought custom domain support as part of their Cloud+ platform which is good because truth be known I was expecting Apple implementing the Webextension API to feature parity with Firefox before they would ever get interested in adding more sophisticated features to their iCloud service (given that no one is directly paying for it I was never expecting it to get to the level of sophistication as what Microsoft or Google provides) but I tolerated it because it was ‘good enough’ to get the job done.
As for my hardware, at the moment I think I can squeeze another 2-3 years out of it which would make them 5-6 years old by the time I get around to replacing them and when I do it’ll be interesting to see but assuming that Microsoft use Windows 11 as a springboard to advance Windows forward and AMD/Intel keep fighting the good fight on improving their product line (and Microsoft making great Surface) it appears that Apple has some much needed competition. Oh, and Samsung offering 4 years of long term support for their Galaxy S line? *chief’s kiss* particularly when you consider that next year the next Galaxy will use an SoC which makes use of an AMD GPU. I have to admit – I’d be tempted to build my own rig but for a laptop I’d go with Surface.
But that being said, Apple has joined a consortium called ‘Webextensions Community Group’ (link) that will hopefully move the API set forward resulting in Apple a set of APIs that all the in-dusty agree with which will ensure that developers can ‘write once, deploy everywhere’ rather than the current situation of having to deal with browser quirks and API differences – this matrix is a good way to keep track of those differences (link) which can range from something that is implemented but differently all the way through to a feature not being implanted at all with no intention by the browser vendor of ever implementing it.