A Follow-up on Switching to Windows

About six months ago, I went back to Windows as my daily driver OS. I hadn’t really used Windows since 2011 except for the Christmas family tech support. Here’s a little recap after half a year of usage. I have been updated to Windows 11 meanwhile. That’s what you get for being on the dev channel of the Windows Insider Program.

Infrequent crashes

It sure does not crash as often as my old Arch installation did after updates, but it still occasionally happens. Nothing serious so far, and I was always able to get the system back up within an hour or so.

File History

This is a total fail, for the second time now the built-in File History failed with a meaningless error: “File History doesn’t recognize this drive.” and the only option given is “Select another drive”. The “solutions” offered are to delete your backup and start anew… The worst possible solution for a backup software. I had used timeshift for the system partition and a simple rsync-based incremental backup system for my files, neither has ever failed me. That the built-in Windows solution doesn’t work, feels so much like a “Windows-thing” to me.

UI Inconsistencies

This was a glaring flaw I saw in Windows 10, and it’s even worse in Windows 11: The settings are spread all over different user interfaces and dialogs. The above-mentioned File History is in a control panel windows that kind of looks like the Windows Explorer and has probably been around since Windows XP. If you open up “Settings”, however, you get the new Windows interface. Often clicking a link in this interface will open up the old settings. I’m pretty good with computers (sic!) but I get lost all the time, how is anyone supposed to find their way through this mess. Don’t forget: compared to most Linux distros, the settings GUIs are built by Microsoft. Why aren’t they able to unify the UI/UX here?

Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL2)

Overall, I’m pretty happy with the Linux integration. Moving from Linux to WSL wasn’t too big of a change in terms of development work. I have since dumped the Arch WSL distribution and installed the official Debian distro from the Microsoft store. Using software in Windows that accesses the Linux file system (and vice-versa, I guess) is often slow or even fails. I mostly noticed this with Git GUIs; the official GitHub GUI is unusable, and the Git integration with IntelliJ software is also not great and fails to update changes in the file system often.

Mixed DPI Displays

As I wrote in my initial post, I was surprised how bad support for mixed DPI monitors was in Windows 10. I have since upgraded to 4K monitors to match my laptops resolution and thus this is not an issue anymore.

Overall performance

Often the Windows GUI feels sluggish. This is especially noticeable on the login screen. My graphics card/chip should easily handle this, so I think it’s a software problem. It annoys me several times a day, but I guess I’ll just have to live with this for now.

So, was the change worth it? I’m not 100% convinced. Having such an unreliable file backup and system image solution should really worry me more than it does at the moment. I should know better!