I called Windows 11 an unnecessary upgrade. My reasoning was that it had compatibility issues and didn’t really add anything to Windows 10. Sure, it includes better security. But, spoiler alert, most of these improvements were already in the Windows 10 20H2 release (the October 2020 Update). You just have to turn them on.
So what’s the point of Windows 11? I think it’s to slowly get used to the idea of Windows as a Service (WaaS).
Microsoft has been moving users to this Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) model for years now. You can subscribe to the easy-to-use Windows 365 Cloud PC today. Or, if you want more control and functionality, there’s Windows 365 Enterprise or Azure Virtual Desktop. But these are all more business than consumer games. And, while Microsoft loves its enterprise customers, it still loves its home sales, too. (Of course, the difference between home and work is blurring more than ever thanks to the growing work-from-home movement.)
With all of this in mind, when I look at recent Windows 11 changes, I see clear signs that Windows 11 is the Trojan horse that brings WaaS to everyone whether you want it to or not.
First, Microsoft slipped a Microsoft subscription manager into the Windows 11 February 2022 Update. Check it out: Look into Windows 11 Settings menu > Accounts and you will find a new section called “Your Microsoft account”. There you’ll find the status of your Microsoft 365 subscription, how full your OneDrive cloud storage is, and other details.
Trust me, he says: Having a subscription to our cloud services is a normal part of Windows. Relax, accept that Windows is now part of a cloud-based Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) world.
Wait? Didn’t Microsoft say it would only add features to Windows 11 once a year? Um, yes, it did. But Microsoft lied. Windows 11 will receive Feature Packs, Web and Online Service Experience Packs whenever Microsoft wants to update them. That moan you hear in the distance? It’s the Windows 11 sysadmins who care about the harm hidden features will bring with them.
Leaving that aside, there is one subscription missing from this new feature: Remember what I just said about mischief? – and that’s Xbox Game Pass. It’s almost as if Microsoft is thinking about business first with this update and about enjoying your Xbox games second.
Then, a few weeks later, Windows 11 Insider Preview Build 22567 arrived for the Dev Channel. And what should we find inside? Why, Windows 11 now requests your credit card information from within Windows. Of course, Microsoft has been asking for your credit card information for years for transactions through the Your Microsoft Account web page. So what’s the big deal?
Well, it makes Windows a little easier to use for shopping. What I think is important is that, in combination with the subscription feature, this makes it easier for you to pay not only for Microsoft 365, but also for Windows itself. Windows will no longer be a one-time purchase. It will forever be a subscription service with one foot in the PC and the other ever more firmly in the cloud.
While I like the DaaS model instead, I also like having my operating system under my control and mostly on my PC. So, I will continue to use the Linux desktop as my primary operating system. As for everyone else, I hope you’re okay with trusting Microsoft with all of your IT work, because now more than ever, Microsoft, not you, will decide.
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