Official Windows 11 media creation tool, ISOs available, reviews in

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Although the All About sites have always focussed on 'mobile', the official availability of Windows 11 is worth noting. See some of the links and comments below. Windows 11 itself was launched back in July with significant cynicism that this was just a 'new coat of paint' and it seems that this is somewhat justified. But for brand new hardware that meets all its requirements, it's at least a step into the future.

Screenshot, Windows 11

From Microsoft, we have the official ways to get Windows 11 without waiting for Microsoft telemetry and an official 'push' to your PC:

Windows 11 Installation Assistant

This is the best option for installing Windows 11 on the device you’re currently using. Click Download Now to get started.

Create Windows 11 Installation Media

If you want to perform a reinstall or clean install of Windows 11 on a new or used PC, use this option to download the media creation tool to make a bootable USB or DVD.
This option is for users that want to create a bootable installation media (USB flash drive, DVD) or create a virtual machine (.ISO file) to install Windows 11. This download is a multi-edition ISO which uses your product key to unlock the correct edition.

I'd warn readers that I did try all this a few weeks ago with a preview edition on an older (2015) PC and it all went horribly wrong, with Windows 11 failing to install because the hardware wasn't fully supported, and then still trying to download over and over again. I'm sure that such glitches won't apply here because this is an official release, but I'd say that it's only worth even thinking of downloading Windows 11 using the routes above if you're 100% sure that your PC meets all the requirements (so a machine built since the start of 2019, I'd say). Helpfully, there's a Microsoft compatibility tool to advise you here.

We also have some reviews of Windows 11 in. Most pertinently of all, perhaps Zac Bowden's, since he's been covering Windows 11 since way before it was even announced:

Windows 11 is what you'd call a "version 1.0" product, which means it's just getting started, and while there's lots of great things here, there's also a lot missing (especially around the Taskbar) that long-time Windows users may struggle with. Microsoft has achieved its goal of trying to simplify the top-level Windows UX, but at the cost of functionality which many consider essential to their workflows.

If you've read this review and not considered any of the problems mentioned to be a deal-breaker, I think Windows 11 is going to be great for you. It's not slow, unstable, or buggy in my usage. It feels ready for production use, and I've enjoyed every minute of using this OS. I'm never going back to Windows 10.

However, if you usually have your Taskbar at the top of your display, or don't like the sound of having to click a few extra times to access a function that was previously available in a single click, then Windows 11 is not going to be for you at this moment. Windows 11 prioritizes simplicity, sometimes at the cost of burying functionality behind menus or inside the Settings app.

I really like Windows 11. It's a breath of fresh air for Windows that attempts to throw out much of the old UX in favor of a more modern, fluid, and simplistic interface. I think it does a good job at achieving this goal, though it's not perfect. Power users and long-time Windows users will need to relearn some habits and get used to missing functionality in some areas.

I'm sure Microsoft will add back some of the missing features and behaviors in future releases, but I don't think it'll add back everything. I have a feeling that the vision for Windows 11 going forward is simplicity and ease of use, catering more to the average user who is more familiar with how things are done on their phone, and less to the die-hard Windows power users who want everything to be accessible in a single-click.

If you are okay with that, Windows 11 is great. If you aren't, then hanging onto Windows 10 for another year is going to be your best bet. Windows 10 is supported until 2025, so there's no immediate rush to upgrade. In a year, or even two years, Windows 11 will be in a much more "complete" state, and that's when it might be worth giving another try.

Windows 11 has the potential to be the best version of Windows yet, but some of the choices Microsoft has made around Teams Chat, Widgets, setting browser defaults, the incomplete dark mode, and functionality of the taskbar really hold it back from being that. Hopefully the next release of Windows 11 fixes these issues.

Mark Hachman at PC World says:

Essentially, Microsoft places the most disconcerting aspects of Windows 11 front and center, while its best features are hidden deeper within. That puts Windows 11 at a marked disadvantage out of the gate.

We can applaud Microsoft’s efforts for trying to visually refresh Windows while acknowledging that, functionally, it isn’t entirely successful. Defending Windows 11 means trying to explain why Windows 11 robs certain functionality from the Start menu and Taskbar, while adding frankly extraneous apps like Widgets and Teams Chat. Of the features that we do think make Windows 11 worthwhile, such as Android apps, DirectStorage, and AutoHDR, too many are specific to certain hardware, or simply aren’t yet available. And, of course, the hardware support controversy and issues with local accounts in Windows 11 Home muddy the waters further.

Windows 11 is absolutely usable in its current state, and, like Windows 10, will improve over time. There’s already some evidence that Microsoft may be backtracking on certain aspects, such as dragging and dropping icons onto the Taskbar.

With Windows 10, Microsoft discarded the troubled tiled interface of Windows 8 and strode boldly forward into an optimistic future of biometric logins and virtual assistants. Windows 11 feels practical and productive, but less so than its predecessor in many aspects. Microsoft lost some of its magic along the way.

In short, most long-time readers will want to wait until (at least) this time in 2022, for a fixed-up version with more complete functionality. Or, quite likely, you'll acquire a new PC and it will 'just come' with Windows 11. After all, that's been the tradition way to get new versions of Windows in the past. And, as Zac says, there really is no hurry, you've got another four years (at least) of full Windows 10 support.