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Free Windows 11 upgrade comes with some annoyances

by JOY SCHWABACH | November 27, 2021 at 1:56 a.m.

What a bummer. My Windows 10 PC can't handle the free upgrade to Windows 11.

To find out if yours can, type "PC Health Check," in the Windows search bar in the lower left of your screen. When the app comes up, click it. Though my PC sailed through every other requirement on the list, its Intel Core i7 processor didn't make it. That's odd, because there's a whole bunch of Intel Core i3 and i5 processors that do meet Microsoft's criteria, though they're much slower than my i7. The higher the number, the faster the processor.

But even if your PC qualifies for the free upgrade, you'll still have to wait until next year -- unless you sign up for the free Windows Insider program, which is easy to do. Check out the article "How to Get Windows 11 Beta," from

If you get the go-ahead, should you opt for the free upgrade? I say yes. You can always roll back to Windows 10 if you change your mind within 10 days. Windows 11 is getting kudos for its fresh new look, its more useful settings, a better Windows Store, an improved Snap View and more helpful widgets, which are apps that broadcast new information continuously.

But be prepared for a few annoyances. I'm not counting the complainers on Reddit who say that performance suffers, because it's a tiny difference. But it might bother you that the Start menu has moved from the left to the bottom center of the screen, though you can change that in settings. More seriously, you can no longer click on each individual item in the Action Center, which is the area in the bottom right of your screen with a square speech bubble. That's the icon that says "Notifications" if you hover on it. When you click on it in Windows 10, you get some some handy links, including airplane mode, screen snip, and night light, among others. It's being replaced by two buttons. You can edit the list, but you can't get everything you had before.

The calendar pop-up in Windows 10 has also deteriorated in Windows 11. To enjoy the old version while you can, click the clock in the lower right of your screen. To add an event to the calendar, click on a day and fill in the slot below the calendar with your details. Fifteen minutes before an event starts, it will automatically pop up to remind you. You can change it to 30 minutes, an hour or even a whole day's advance notice.

Another downside of Windows 11: Microsoft is pushing you out on the Edge. In other words, if you want any browser other than Microsoft Edge to launch when you click on a link, such as Chrome or Firefox, you have to set the default for each file type: HTML, WebP, XHT, HTTPS, and so on.

The good news: Microsoft is supporting Windows 10 until 2025. So you can put off deciding for a while. If Windows 10 is any indicator, the free upgrade will hang around for a long time.


Do you fancy yourself an interior decorator? Try playing Design Home, a free app for Android and iPhone that has been downloaded more than a million times. I find it rather addicting.

For my first challenge, the game let me decide which of two rooms was better decorated. I was thrilled when the rest of the community gave me nearly five out of five stars for my choice. Ho ho!

My next challenge was to design a romantic patio in a house on the Greek island of Santorini. I was asked to choose sofas, chairs, tables, rugs, plants and other decor. It's easy to do because the game shows you where to tap, and when you do, you get a variety of furniture choices and decor. But I got confused by the fact that so many objects say "buy." I bravely tapped on a $1,000 dollar Tommy Bahama chair. Just as I suspected, it cost only 1,000 points out of the 20,000 I earned right off the bat. Another time, I was afraid I was spending real money, but once again, I wasn't.

The game lets you choose furniture, wallpaper, rugs and decor from actual brands, such as Benjamin Moore paints. There are home makeover games that bring rewards, or you can enter the design challenges for prizes. The prizes give you play money to buy more stuff.


My brother asked me if I used Giphy so I asked him if he used Bitmoji. Bitmoji creates a flattering cartoon version of your photo to go with words like "Thank you," "Congratulations," or "What's up?" When you tap the app, you'll have a chance to include a message with your cartoon image in an email, text, Facebook post, etc.

The free Giphy app is similar. Tap it when you're ready to send a text message or email. Then choose a short animation and add your message. It will give you options for sharing it.


• has advice for preventing injuries, as well as free workouts. Click "body part," to get started.

• helps you sell your iPhone for top dollar. You can get $255 for an iPhone X from 2017. Old iPads, Galaxy tablets and PlayStations are worth big bucks too.

• Search on "Draw Like a Printer Level 2 Drawing Ronaldo vs Messi" to bring up a YouTube video showing a guy drawing two completely different portraits at the same time. It's astounding.

Joy Schwabach can be reached by email at

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