Here's what you're losing if you upgrade to Windows 11

Man annoyed at laptop
(Image credit: Marjan Apostolovic / Shutterstock)

Microsoft finally unveiled the official Windows 11 operating system at its event on June 24, 2021 after a partial build was leaked a few weeks ago, accompanied by the news that it'll be a free upgrade for current Windows 10 users.

While this is certainly fantastic news, it does come with a few small caveats – for one, you'll be losing a few features if you're lucky enough to fit the requirements for the free OS upgrade. A few of these you'll likely be happy to see the back of, but there are a few changes that might be a little more divisive.

The system requirements are a little confusing, with the Windows PC Health Check informing folk using even a Ryzen 9 5900X CPU and 32GB of RAM that they're unable to upgrade, though this is seemingly an issue that mostly self-built PC users are finding. With Microsoft supporting the Windows 10 OS until October 14, 2025, it's likely this might change, allowing DIY builds to upgrade without needing to jump through hoops.

A little good, a little bad

Speaking of the specifications, that's where this list of Windows 10 features destined for the bin in Windows 11 was discovered – in a misleading document titled 'Windows 11 specifications' that makes no mention of what system you need to be running to make the upgrade.

A huge one for us here at TechRadar (given the number of laptops we review) is that Cortana will no longer be included in the initial boot experience, nor will she be pinned to the taskbar. You'll still have access to Cortana should you want it, but it's nice to know she isn't going to be up in your face when trying to set up your new device.

We will also see the departure of Internet Explorer, which shouldn't come as a huge surprise given support for the web browser will end on August 17 2021 after 25 years of service. Instead, Edge is the recommended replacement but this will include an IE Mode should you need it.

There are also a few changes rather than removals, with the Taskbar functionality being restricted to the bottom of the display. Apps also won't be able to customize areas of the Taskbar, which is odd given it was mentioned that Android apps can be pinned to it if you use them frequently.

The Start Menu is getting some significant changes too, with Live Tiles no longer available and existing pinned apps and websites being unable to migrate when you make the upgrade. Named groups and folders of apps will also be axed and the layout is not currently resizable so you're stuck with what Microsoft gives you.

What else is being removed?

  • Desktop wallpaper cannot be roamed to or from device when signed in with a Microsoft account.
  • Math Input Panel is removed. Math Recognizer will install on demand and includes the math input control and recognizer. Math inking in apps like OneNote are not impacted by this change.
  • News & Interests has evolved. New functionality has been added which can be found by clicking the Widgets icon on the Taskbar.
  • Quick Status from the Lockscreen and associated settings are removed.
  • S Mode is only available now for Windows 11 Home edition.
  • Snipping Tool will still be available but the old design and functionality in the Windows 10 version has been replaced with those of the app previously known as Snip & Sketch.
  • Tablet Mode is removed and new functionality and capability is included for keyboard attach and detach postures.
  • Touch Keyboard will no longer dock and undock keyboard layouts on screen sizes 18 inches and larger.
  • Wallet is being removed.

The following apps won't be removed if you upgrade an existing device, but they'll no longer be installed on new devices or when clean-installing Windows 11. If you still want to use them then you're free to do so, but you'll need to manually download them from the Windows store.

  • 3D Viewer
  • OneNote for Windows 10
  • Paint 3D
  • Skype

Microsoft mentioned during its keynote that Windows 11 will be out "this holiday season", likely sometime between late November and Christmas, so we won't have long to wait to get our hands on the official version of this OS.

Jess Weatherbed

Jess is a former TechRadar Computing writer, where she covered all aspects of Mac and PC hardware, including PC gaming and peripherals. She has been interviewed as an industry expert for the BBC, and while her educational background was in prosthetics and model-making, her true love is in tech and she has built numerous desktop computers over the last 10 years for gaming and content creation. Jess is now a journalist at The Verge.