Windows 11: What has changed?

Feb 3, 2022 | Windows 10 Hints and Tips

Despite Microsoft saying that Windows 10 was the last version of Windows there would be you may now be deliberating at what point to make the leap into the unknown with their new offering of Windows 11.  Before making that decision it would be useful to know how different it really is. 


Aesthetics don’t affect the functionality of the product but they can make it look more appealing.  In Windows 11 the square edges of many of the dialog boxes have been replaced by a more rounded option and menus have generally been tidied up. 

File explorer

The toolbar at the top of File Explorer has been simplified with extra options now being hidden behind the ellipses at the end of the ribbon and a View icon drop down.  Also, the icons are simpler without the text explaining what they do visible.  For those familiar with Microsoft products this shouldn’t be a major problem and provides a cleaner interface but for new or infrequent users this is less user friendly. 

File explorer

Similarly the menu that appears when you right click on a file or folder has only the icons for Cut, Copy, Paste, Rename and Delete without the corresponding name.  This alteration can be disconcerting at first. 

File explorer menu

Start button 

The Start menu button is very different with a much simplified list of apps and recommended files initially available.  The full list of apps is now accessed by clicking on the All Apps button or the Type Here to Search box can be used to access any of the items previously found in the Start menu.  If Search is used the list of suggestions can be filtered to show only Apps, Documents, Web Results or more. 

Start menu

Live tiles showing things like the weather are no longer available however there is a new Widgets icon on the taskbar that has much of the same functionality and can be customised as required. 

The Start menu bar is now centralised instead of being aligned to the right. 

Search button 

The search box on the task bar has been replaced with a search icon.  The search feature accessed from here is identical to the one mentioned from the Start button. 


Snap Layouts 

We often work with multiple applications at the same time.  Snap layout gives 4 layout options for the windows we have open.  By hovering over the maximise button for any open Window the layout options are displayed.  You select the one you require and the window you are currently in gets resized for the first box and a list of all the other open windows is shown.  The required one is selected and that takes the second position and so on until all the boxes available in the snap layout have been filled. 

The layouts have 2, 3 or 4 boxes depending on the choice made. 

Snap layouts

Teams Chat 

As the use of Microsoft Teams gathers pace many companies are now using Teams Chat to communicate internally and possibly also externally.  In Windows 11 a Chat icon is automatically available on the Taskbar. 

Teams Chat

Drag and Drop to Taskbar 

Apps used to be able to darg and dropped to be accessible from the task bar.  This is no longer the case.  This is a strange change. 

Open and Active Applications on Taskbar 

Open applications now show with a short dash under them on the taskbar.  The active application has a much longer line visible. 


Windows Settings 

There are some additional settings but also the layout has been amended to look much cleaner like much of the other interface options in Windows 11. 


Task Switcher 

If you haven’t come across the keyboard shortcut for changing from one active window to another this one is great.  Although this isn’t new it’s another place where the interface is improved. 

ALT + TAB – Switch active windows 

NOTE:  When the list is displayed the TAB key can be used to toggle through the windows until the correct one is selected. 

So there are quite a few changes, many of which are subtle, most of which won’t take a lot of getting used to once you are up and running.  I hope these snippets will make the upgrade process just that little bit easier. 

Further Reading

If you’ve enjoyed reading about the updates to the Quick Access toolbar, there’s some other blogs below that you might find useful:

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