An Interview With Author Andy Rathbone On Windows 11.

Another opportunity to interview Andy Rathbone, writer of ‘Windows 11 For Dummies’ and his thoughts on Microsoft’s latest update.

You can check out his website at:

Well, Andy, here we are again. I think we can accept from the start that Microsoft wasn’t going to keep to its promise that there would be no more Windows upgrades.

Q: I think the biggest surprise when I get into W11 was how closely it resembled W10. If it wasn’t for the change to the opening Window font, I would have thought I was looking at W10. In the main screen, if it hadn’t been for the centralised menu bar commands, I wouldn’t have been much wiser as to any differences. It does make me wonder if Microsoft thinks they’ve got the idealised version now or at least the one most favourable to users.

A: Microsoft created Windows 11 for two main reasons: To make people buy new computers, and, since Windows runs faster on new PCs, give Windows a reputation for being speedy.

Q: Well, unless MS have shares in all the other computer companies, they aren’t making money that way. I’ve got a state-of-the art Dell laptop and the speed of W11 on it is no faster than a standard desktop I have as a back-up.

A: Microsoft doesn’t make as much money from Windows as it does from the Cloud and its Office 365 subscriptions. Windows 11 pushes both quite heavily.

Q: It does look like a lot of the changes were for compatibility with Android mobile phone software. Considering the latter needs so little from W11, you would have thought it could have been done more modular.

A: That would have been nice, but it wouldn’t have forced people to buy new PCs.

Q: Do I sense a touch of cynicism here? Hope there’s a better recycling plan for old computers.

A: So do I.

Q: You point out that Windows 11 only installs on computers sold within the last 2-3 years although on my older laptop, the main stopper was not having enough RAM/memory. It needs at least 8gB. Why didn’t it point out my needing a TPM (Trusted Platform Module) 2.0 chip as well or can I assume my earlier laptop actually had one already?

A: You may be overestimating the technological savvy of the audience for “Windows 11 For Dummies”. Many of them are confused simply by terms like RAM. However, the TPM is mentioned in Windows 11 For Dummies’ index, page 15, and page 416. Plus, I ask readers to run Microsoft’s PC Health Check app before thinking about upgrading; that program will mention the TPM requirement, which people can subsequently look up in my book. Complicating matters, many PCs come with a TPM chip that’s not turned on, leading to more confusion. So, the most understandable way to explain the TPM requirement is to say that Windows 11 requires a PC sold within the past two or three years. That bypasses the confusion, yet leaves a way for people to look up the term in the book.

Q: A turned off TPM chip might explain that. I was making allowances for that with the book, although your W10 version was a lot more technical. Did you feel you might be covering old ground with this book?

A: I cover a little old ground with each book, but it’s a delicate balance between what information stays and what information must be cut to make way for the new.

Q: I’m not that impressed with W11’s search facility when it comes to searching the computer for files outside of specific documents folders. It seems to have slowed down somewhat. Putting a directory of 1000 items in age order literally does take an age.

A: Sorting only takes a long time when the files, photos, for example, are stored on the PC itself. If they’re stored on OneDrive, sorting works much more quickly. This is one more way that Microsoft is pushing people to move to the cloud, and its monthly fees.

Q: I don’t mind MS using their cloud to store basic Windows snapshot info for moving to another computer, but less inclined to use it for anything else. People with slow router speeds in rural areas aren’t likely to be that keen neither.

A: That’s true about the rural areas, but the phone market is bigger. People will like the convenience of being able to access their information from either their PC or their phone. That’s what OneDrive is selling.

Q: I’m still wondering why MS doesn’t take advantage of the capacities of each computer it is downloaded onto. It seems to take the slowest route when it comes to an order sort in File Manager and moving/copying a number of files irrespective of how big the RAM is, let alone installing updates.

A: See above. Microsoft doesn’t want people to store files on their own PC. They want those files on OneDrive.

Q: I suppose that’s one way to recuperate costs, although I think they should be more upfront about this.

A: Microsoft has never been upfront about things.

Q: It wasn’t until recently that I found the way to turn off the command in MS Edge for copying and pasting the old-fashioned way that shut down all of its windows. You would have thought MS would have made that automatic.

A: Microsoft works in odd ways.

Q: I’m glad that Windows initiates partitions itself these days although surprised its not done mandatory to stash programs and files away from the C:/ partition to keep them safe.

A: Windows has to please corporate users, as well; perhaps administrators don’t like those mandatory actions.

Q: I suspect administrators don’t really understand partitions or, as in the old days, a Windows reinstall could wipe the hard drive.

A: Microsoft sees a day when all of the user’s information lives on OneDrive by default. Windows will be a Cloud-based subscription service, with just a minimal footprint on the PC for those times when Internet coverage isn’t available.

Q: I think the scariest thing I saw when W10 was installed was the size of W7 back-up. If I had a smaller C:/ partition I might have had a space problem but it was close. These days I ensure the C:/ partition is as big as I can, more so the number of updates it and W11 go through. Is this sound advice for all PC users.

A: That’s a good idea, and it’s getting easier now that high-capacity SSDs are less expensive.

Q: I’m less inclined towards Solid State Drives because, as with the finger drives, they don’t last forever and continual updates and usage to them will soon use up the number of times they can be accessed. Speed doesn’t beat the eventual crash of such drives. I know, you’ll stay that’s what the cloud is for.

A: That’s what the Cloud is for. J

Q: With W11 updates, the length of pauses at 50, 75 and 100 tends to suggest a lot a lot more is going on. Do you think MS should show just what is going on or at least give the option than having users think something is wrong?

A: Although techies may think so, the average user doesn’t bother watching the updates take place. They push the update button, walk away, and return in a few hours – or the next day.

Q: I wasn’t so much thinking of techies, just the frustration of the W11 updates taking so long and thinking something has gone wrong. This also cross-connects to an earlier question where if you have more computer memory, you would think updating the files on the hard drive would be a lot faster.

A: That’s a question for Microsoft.

Q: Are all W11 updates security file related and do you think MS should show what it is updating and why?

A: Not all Windows 11 updates are security related. It would be nice if Microsoft was more transparent about things, but that documentation takes time and effort that Microsoft isn’t willing to expend.

Q: I know W11 is supposed to load updates in the background but it does tend to slow down the computer at the same time, so I tend to push it to update. With the back-up computer, telling it to check for updates invariably gets a message saying none the first time but a second time finds the files. Presumably this might be because MS software is dealing with a lot of computers and more a matter of finding a place in the queue. Even so, it must be rather disconcerting to some users.

A: That’s another question for Microsoft.

Q: Why do we still have ‘Backup and Restore (Windows 7) in the Control Panel? You would have thought the System Repair software would have its own place.

A: Some people still need to restore their Windows 7 backups. That said, the feature will probably disappear soon.

Q: I think the biggest problem I currently have with W11 is it not recognising my Epson scanner when I plug it in and keeps insisting it needs the drivers reinstalled or using ‘Start Scan’ in its Properties window to kickstart it.

A: I’m not sure how to answer. That may be a problem with your particular scanner model or its drivers.

Q: I only raised that question as to whether it was something you heard of and if it was a common problem. People will assume all computers are the same but so many get customised by their additional software or hardware and just assume to either get on with it or buy updates. It doesn’t feel like a commerce problem and there’s far to many ‘solutions’ that don’t seem to work on-line.

A: I haven’t heard of a particular problem with Epson scanners, but driver problems have decreased since Windows Update began dishing them out automatically. That’s better than having to track down drivers from a lot of third-parties. And, considering how many drivers are out there, it’s amazing that Windows Update works this well and keeping track of them.

Q: Considering how many PCs are continually hooked to the Internet, I’m surprised MS doesn’t have a database of viable solutions for continually recurring problems and how to solve them, let alone patch them in when doing updates.

A: That would be nice, but difficult, considering that the world’s PCs come hooked up to a huge variety of third-party hardware. Except for the corporate world, few PCs are exactly alike, and that leads to many potential problems.

Q: How do you find the two tier commands in File Manager with no option to put them into one set of tool commands? I would have liked better control than this or at least a ribbon choice or regularly used commands like Preview.

A: File Manager is missing a lot of features compared to Windows 10, probably because Microsoft prefers to drop features in order to make Windows appear easier to use and less cluttered.

Q: Considering MS Office has a ribbon for most used commands, this is one thing that could have been useful on W11 and could even be done automatically based on what commands the user picks or seen to use the most. Also, are there any commands that they shouldn’t have gotten rid of?

A: Microsoft works in odd ways. I personally liked ribbons, as well as the Windows 10 interface. That’s why I haven’t updated to Windows 11 on my main PC.

Q: How do you rate W11 compared to W10 and W7?

A: I preferred Windows 7, but eventually become accustomed to Windows 10, which I still prefer over Windows 11.

Q: Do you think it will take 4 years before W12 comes on the horizon and what changes are MS likely to do?

A: I have no idea.

Q: Is there any ‘improvement’ that you thought was a good idea as well as any that weren’t?

A: Centering the icons on the taskbar is just dumb. People have been reaching for the Start button in the lower left corner for years. Now, depending on how many programs are running, the Start button shifts its location. Bad move.

Q: Is there anything you think MS could have done better?

A: With the exception of Windows 8, Microsoft’s is pretty predictable: dumb down the interface and push people to their cloud. Those things will continue to happen.

Q: Now that sounds scary.

A: It’s not scary, but common sense in the corporate world. Microsoft is like any other corporation: It wants to make money; serving the users comes in second. The Cloud makes money, as does Microsoft’s subscription and advertising services, so they’ll always trump user needs.

Many thanks

© 2022 interview Andy Rathbone and Geoff Willmetts:

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