Windows 11 vs. Windows 10: What's the Difference?

Determining which is better depends on which features you use the most

Microsoft’s Windows 10 operating system launched in 2015 while the company’s newer OS, Windows 11, debuted in 2021. We compared both, but figuring out which is best depends on which features you like best.

Windows 11 vs Windows 10


Overall Findings

Windows 10
  • $139 to buy

  • More tablet focused

  • Good variety of apps

  • Support for Live Tiles

Windows 11
  • Potential free upgrade from Windows 10, otherwise $139

  • Voice access is a great

  • Big improvements to Narrator

  • Android apps via Microsoft Store.

The Windows 11 operating system is very similar to Windows 10 but features a host of improvements and added functionality that makes it a worthy upgrade.

Some of the design changes, such as the removal of Live Tiles and the redesigned Start Menu, might be jarring at first but running Android apps on Windows, massive improvements to accessibility, and longer support from Microsoft may make the upgrade hard to resist. Remember, your device might be able to upgrade from Windows 10 to 11 for free.

Layout: Windows 11 Takes Some Getting Used To

Windows 10
  • Unique experience when used as a tablet.

  • Easier to access Power options from Start.

  • Support for vertical taskbar.

Windows 11
  • Streamlines Start Menu will appeal to some.

  • Renewed focus on desktop experience.

  • Some options to adjust the UI.

Both the taskbar and Start Menu are now centered in Windows 11 as opposed to Windows 10’s default left alignment. This makes shutting down your device a bit frustrating as you need to swing your mouse cursor all the way to the left corner of the screen to open the Start Menu and then drag it back to the center to select the Power button. Even when using a touchscreen this is annoying.

Fortunately, Windows 11 does offer customization options that allow for the taskbar and Start Menu alignments to be moved to the left (this still doesn’t make the familiar shutdown process flow as well as it used to). There’s no option to align either feature to the right or to place the taskbar vertically along the right or left sides of the screen like on Windows 10. Other visual changes, such as the rounding of window corners, are noticeable but likely won’t affect your enjoyment of the OS one way or the other.

Start Screen and Live Tiles: Windows 11 May Have Killed Your Favorite Feature

Windows 10
  • Live Tiles to show app info within Start.

  • Fullscreen Start Screen option.

  • Good support for tablet users.

Windows 11
  • Widgets display more media than Live Tiles.

  • Streamlined Start will appeal to some.

The biggest visual and functional change to Windows 11 is the complete removal of both Live Tiles and the option to create a full-screen Start Screen with your Start Menu. No longer are you able to view updated information and media while browsing your pinned apps. Instead, all your tiles have been shrunk to Windows desktop icons and you’ll now need to open the separate Widget menu for some of that Live Tile data. Your apps will need to support Windows 11 widgets that is.

Did you enjoy swiping and tapping your fullscreen Start Screen on your Windows 10 tablet or Surface two-in-one device? The equivalent mode in Windows 11 looks just like the default desktop experience but with a slightly bigger taskbar. The Start Menu doesn’t change size at all. A small minority of users used Windows 10 for its tablet experience so this turn back to a more traditional desktop experience with Windows 11 won’t annoy many. If you’re in the minority though, initially you’ll likely feel frustrated.

App Store: Windows 11 Has More and Better Apps

Windows 10
  • Microsoft Store has a good selection of apps.

  • Can install apps from installation files.

Windows 11
  • Android apps added to Microsoft Store.

  • Can install apps from installation files.

  • New version of some apps exclusive to Windows 11.

Windows 10 is completely fine for the average computer user when it comes to apps. The operating system supports both app installations from the Microsoft Store app store in addition to apps installed via installation files from CDs or DVDs, SD cards and USB sticks, and websites.

Windows 11 supports all of the same app types that Windows 10 does and more. In addition to downloading Windows apps from the Microsoft Store app store, Windows 11 allows for the installation of select Android apps onto your Windows machine. Windows 11 also boasts newer versions of classic apps, such as the new Windows Media Player and Microsoft Paint, that simply won’t install on a device running Windows 10. If you want to use those apps, you’ll need to upgrade to Windows 11.

Accessibility Improvements: Windows 11 Is More Accessible

Windows 10
  • Basic voice controls.

  • Basic color options.

Windows 11
  • Advanced voice controls.

  • New built-in Narrator feature.

  • Extra color options.

Some of Windows 11’s more noteworthy accessibility additions and changes include the ability to enable live captions on videos, more color options, the new Voice access tool for controlling your device with your voice, as well as the revamped Narrator with natural voices.

Support: Windows 11 Will Be Safer for Longer

With the launch of Windows 11, Microsoft announced that they would be ending support for the Windows 10 operating system in October 2025. This means that after October 2025, Windows 10 will stop receiving both feature and security updates which could leave devices running that operating system vulnerable to hacks and attacks.

Windows 11, on the other hand, has yet to be given a date for its eventual end of support.

Final Verdict: Is Windows 11 Good?

Windows 11 is essentially an enhanced version of Windows 10 with more substantial accessibility features and support for considerably more apps. The new design aesthetic and adjustments to the Start Menu won’t please everyone but these deal breakers don't radically change the user experience.

However, Windows 10 users who have been taking advantage of Live Tiles and the full-screen Start Screen for the past few years will need to prepare themselves for a radical shift back to using Windows as they did with Windows 7. Get ready for a lot more mouse cursor movements and keyboard shortcuts.

  • How do I go back to Windows 10 from Windows 11?

    Within 10 days of upgrading to Windows 10, you can return to Windows 10 by going to Update History > Recovery Options > Go Back. Otherwise, you should go to Microsoft's Windows 10 download page to get an install file, and then restore your computer to install the older OS.

  • How do I make Windows 11 look like Windows 10?

    You can make several cosmetic changes to Windows 11 if you prefer how things looked and worked before. Most of the adjustments are in the Personalization section of Settings. For other changes, like the appearance of the Start menu, you'll need to use an app (e.g., Open-Shell).

Was this page helpful?