Windows 11, Time to 'Stick' or 'Twist'?
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Windows 11 upgrade: Should small business owners ‘stick’ or ‘twist’?

You’ve probably heard about the recent Windows 11 launch. Maybe you’ve seen a message pop up on your PC inviting you to upgrade? You might have read their advertising slogan “Windows that brings you closer to what you love”.

If you’re a great believer in the latest and greatest, then you might want to charge in and grab this… but is upgrading from Windows 10 and Windows 11 a good idea for your small business right now?

We’ve upgraded one of our office machines and done a bit of research to help you decide.

What's New?

The new centralised taskbar and rounded corners will feel familiar to those who have used a Mac. There’s also a new start menu – but that’s about it really. (And you can reset the taskbar to the left if you prefer anyway.)

new centralised taskbar

The general opinion in our office is that it’s essentially just a new outfit, or to quote Engadget “a fresh coat of paint.”

OK, so what else is new?

There are a few slick productivity features. Small things maybe, but not insignificant. 

Snap Layouts

With Windows 11, the way snapping Windows works is simpler. Now it’s easier to put windows side-by-side, change shapes, resize, drag, and reposition how you want.

Snap Groups

Snap Groups are the set of open windows that you saved in Snap Layouts. They are found in the taskbar for easy access to call up again, so you can minimize or maximize them as a group. The great thing with this is that, if your attention gets distracted by other things, you can easily jump back into what you were doing with just a couple of clicks.

Multiple Virtual Desktops

Having multiple desktops on Windows 11 eliminates the hassle of clicking through minimized windows and tabs. It also provides a great way of keeping different facets of your digital life organised; you can now create separate desktops for work and personal use, using customised backgrounds for clear segregation.

Snap Groups

Snap Groups are the set of open windows that you saved in Snap Layouts. They are found in the taskbar for easy access to call up again, so you can minimize or maximize them as a group. The great thing with this is that, if your attention gets distracted by other things, you can easily jump back into what you were doing with just a couple of clicks.

Un-docking and Re-docking

This becomes much easier because your PC will now remember the location of app windows and replace them automatically when you dock into an external monitor.

Microsoft Teams integration

Microsoft’s video chat platform Teams is now built into the operating system, making it easier to access for regular use. Windows 11 is making it simpler to share your screen in Microsoft Teams but also potentially for other video calls like Slack or Zoom. Another improvement allows users to mute and unmute video or voice calls directly from the Taskbar’s system tray, without needing to look for an app’s specific mute function.

Availability of Android apps

Android apps are built into Windows 11 through the new Microsoft Store. However, support for Android apps is not part of the first shipping version of Windows 11 so we’re not sure they will work perfectly on PCs. It will be great when this happens, but we’re not holding our breath.

Windows Widgets

Windows 11 comes with a new widget panel with details of weather, photos, news, sports etc that pops up from the taskbar icon. We think it’s a bit pointless and, from the comments that we’ve read, we don’t seem to be alone in that.

Gaming (finally!)

As we’re writing this for business users, we’re not totally sure this is a plus point. But for gamers, the operating system is certainly better with brisker loading times, and better compatibility with the Xbox.

Timing is Everything

Windows 11 installing

For those running a small business, we’re not convinced that these new features are compelling enough to persuade you to upgrade all your machines just yet…

In our opinion, it’s more about getting the timing right than anything else. These are the four areas that typically concern a small business owner.

1. Is my hardware compatible?

In simple terms, any PCs produced before 2018 won’t be compatible with Windows 11. So, it’s important to maintain an up-to-date register of your PCs to understand if this creates a problem.

2. Is my business software 100% compatible?

Whilst cloud software (anything that you access through a website) is becoming more common, many small businesses still have software directly installed on their PC (e.g. Sage, Orderwise, Point of Rental, Blinddata, Opticabase, Dorsched, Merlin, Autocad). It’s important to be confident that these will perform as expected.

3. How much will Microsoft’s ‘Teething Troubles’ affect me?

When any new product is launched there are always a few issues to iron out. All operating systems are constantly updated to fix bugs and vulnerabilities. But for a small business, this can be a real headache and waste valuable time for a busy workforce.

4. Will we have productivity issues?

Your PCs might be compatible with Windows 11, but will a different operating system decrease productivity. To a large extent you will have to bite this bullet at some point, but delaying this until you are confident about the previous questions probably makes sense.

Our Recommendation

Time to choose

We think that for most small business owners reading this, it makes sense to bide your time for now.

Even Microsoft says Windows 10 is still the right choice for those who aren’t ready to transition to the new operating system.  To reinforce this, they are continuing with their update schedule for Windows 10 and will continue supporting the Windows 10 system until 14th October 2025.

This gives you over 3 years to plan and budget for any changes. We think this is a generous amount of time given the industry standard for the lifetime of a PC is 3 to 5 years.

We hope you found this useful. If you’d like to understand more about Windows 11 compatibility or explore how you can best plan and budget for making this change, then please get in touch for a 15 minute, no-obligation conversation with our team today.

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