Windows 11 22H2 is almost here. Is it business-ready? • The registry

The second release of Windows 11 is imminent. Is it worth risking an upgrade? We took a look at the latest 2022 release preview of Microsoft’s flagship operating system.

Windows 11 launched in October 2021 with some controversial changes. The first was a significantly reduced list of compatible hardware (compared to its predecessor, Windows 10). The second was a redesigned user interface that was pretty much guaranteed to piss off customers still plagued by the Windows 8 and 8.1 Start Menu fiasco.

But hey, the window corners were rounded (sometimes) and you didn’t really care that right-clicking on the taskbar left no task manager options, did you?

It’s fair to say that the operating system wasn’t a resounding success for Microsoft (as evidenced by the operating system’s usage statistics – although the company valiantly insisted the reception was excellent), but it’s still early days and companies probably always have hands off until the first major update (even without the draconian hardware requirements that rendered large parts of companies’ existing hardware fleets obsolete).

Windows 11 is now released

Windows 11 in detail: Incremental upgrade spoiled by annoying system requirements and usability missteps

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With the code moving to the Windows Insider Program Release Preview channel and its arrival on Windows Update for Business, a release is on the horizon. With Microsoft’s drip-feeding of minor updates since release, the question is: what’s new this time?

The good news, at least for businesses, is that the answer isn’t that much. At least not much to startle the horses. However, that also means there isn’t much to lure for the holdouts.

start menu

While the hardware requirements (for an up-to-date CPU and TPM hardware) remain, despite a somewhat embarrassing emission earlier this month where it seems someone at Redmond HQ forgot to turn on the CPU check, the controversial new start menu has been updated . Apps can now be pinned into folders and it’s possible to either see more apps or stick with the recommendation view.

Windows 11 start menu folder

`Folder in Start menu (click to enlarge)

Unfortunately, it lacks features that Windows 10 fans take for granted: drag-and-drop remains severely limited, and third-party options (like Stardock’s Start11) are required to recreate some of what Microsoft decided you wanted to do in Windows 11 do not need.

The result for businesses is that users still need retraining before venturing anywhere near the UI for reasons known only to Microsoft.

Along with updates to the Start menu itself, Microsoft has also added some gestures for touchscreen users – swipe up to view the Start menu, swipe left to view all apps, and swipe right to return to pinned apps. It’s an improvement, but it all feels like window dressing compared to the complaints from users who missed the days of Windows 10.

Other UI changes include improvements to window snapping and something decidedly cosmetic in the form of a volume control to forego some of the last vestiges of the Windows 8 era.

energy efficiency

The Windows team has already overhauled the tried and tested task manager application (the changes are mainly cosmetic), although the efficiency mode that can be activated for processes will be of interest to administrators looking for ways to save energy without actually stopping background processes.

Similarly, Windows 11 22H2 will also attempt to install its updates if local power is from renewable sources, provided it has access to data feeds with that information. From a business perspective, one would hope that an administrator would have sufficient control over an organization’s fleet.

security

One of Microsoft’s justifications for its hardware compatibility list was security, and Windows 11 has Smart App Control lurking to prevent users from running untrusted or unsigned applications (although you’ll need a clean install of Windows 11 to use it – after all, an existing installation might already be compromised) and an improved Windows Sandbox with ARM64 support.

Perhaps more important on the security front is the permanent removal of SMB1 support (the Home edition is the last to have the protocol removed). Sure, admins can add support back into the platform, but that’s probably as good an excuse as any to finally rid an organization of devices that still rely on it.

A little more worrying for consumers, however, is that users need a Microsoft account to set up a Windows 11 system. Businesses and schools aren’t affected (since users already have an account with their organizations), but the change might come as a shock to users who are used to working locally.

Other useful security administration improvements include some new Mobile Device Management (MDM) policies to further control devices, and support for Discovery of Designated Resolvers (DDR).

Accessibility

Finally, there are improvements in both Narrator (with new voices for text-to-speech) and Live Captions to caption audio from PC; handy not only for the hearing impaired, but also for anyone who has trouble focusing on audio (although the functionality is only available in English for now).

Microsoft has not confirmed the arrival date for the second release of Windows 11. The release isn’t the big bang of some versions, a reflection of the update mechanism for Windows 11, but still irons out some of the rough edges.

Administrators have been given more control over the operating system, but some training is still needed for organizations anticipating the imminent end of support for Windows 10 — as well as an explanation of why what might have worked in Windows 10 isn’t working not on Windows 11.

And the Redmond team may not be ready yet. An updated file explorer — crammed with tabs — recently surfaced on the Windows Insider Beta Channel (although it hasn’t made it to Release Preview yet).

Windows 11 File Explorer Tabs

Coming soon to Windows 11? (click to enlarge)

Ultimately, Windows 11 22H2 will likely be the version that will be adopted by companies clinging to the Windows world. The OS has had a year to stabilize, and pretty much any new device will be able to run it without failing Microsoft’s hardware hurdles. And, perhaps most importantly, there’s little to worry about (at least not since the initial release).

Which, let’s face it, is exactly how admins like it. ®

https://www.theregister.com/2022/06/23/windows_11_22h2_is_almost/ Windows 11 22H2 is almost here. Is it business-ready? • The registry

Chrissy Callahan

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