We have previously explained that Windows 11 is little more than a skin on Windows 10. However that does not mean that there are not some big changes which actually make Windows 11 better than Windows 10. What it means is that there was and is no reason these changes could not have been made to Windows 10.
Windows 11 Real Performance Improvements:
What Is Virtualization-Based Security?
We want to start off at the other end of the spectrum with an potentially serious decrease in performance that gamers should be aware of. Virtualization-Based Security (VBS) has been reported to to cause up to a 20% decrease in gaming frame rates. VBS has been available in Windows 10 for years but it was disabled by default. Under Windows 11, beta testers (aka Windows Insiders) like us and those with bare metal installs installs and new PC’s have VBS turned on.
Virtualization-Based Security is just a highly protected block of memory locked down by HyperV that contains critical Windows settings. VBS provides yet another really tough security layer that hackers have to get around if they want to see what is happening inside your Windows OS.
When you see HyperV you might think you can disable it because you are not using any virtual machines but VM’s are not the driver here, Windows 11 itself is using it.
How to Check if Virtualization-Based Security is On or Off?
You can easily check to see if VBS in on or off by looking at your SYSTEM INFORMATION.
How to Disable Virtualization-Based Security?
You can easily disable VBS by turning off CORE ISOLATION > MEMORY INTEGRITY which is in your Windows Security Center.
We think VBS is a good thing and suggest you leave it enabled. Unless you are a gamer, you are unlikely to see any performance degradation.
Ok, enough bad… on with the good stuff.
1 – Foreground Prioritization
Microsoft reworked their app priority algorithm to strongly favor:
- The application you are using right now
- Any app that is starting up
They get more RAM and more CPU
2 – Resume From Sleep
Resume from Sleep now 25% faster because
- RAM stays running so you don’t loose anything
- hardware power management improvements on the SSD, WiFi & CPU
- Thread prioritization – which threads are most important to come back first
3 – Login Speed
Windows Hello is Microsoft’s biometrics authentication system. Think face recognition and finger scanning. Microsoft reworked some of the code so it is 20% faster
4 – Direct Storage
For their latest generation of Xbox gaming consoles, Microsoft pushed some new hardware designs and branded them the “Velocity Architecture“. One of the four feature of VA is called Direct Storage (aka DirectStorage) and what that does is compress data sitting on your drive and then move it directly to the graphics chip. This provides two HUGE benefits:
- Because it is twice compressed it takes half as the time to move though the motherboard
- Because GPU RAM (vRAM) is much faster than regular RAM is much faster to skip the CPU decompression altogether.
5 – Sampler Feedback Streaming (SFS):
Sampler Feedback Streaming is also part of the Velocity Architecture first seen in the Xbox Series X. SFS has the video card figure out in advance what it thinks a human eye can see on the screen and then only request those PARTS of texture files that are needed. For example, if there are mountains off in the distance, there is no point in having the video card take the entire mountain texture file when it just very low resolution distant background. This can improve the I/O throughput and memory usage by 250%.
Again you will need brand new compatible hardware to make SFS actually work so 99.999% of Windows 11 users today, SFS does not work.
6 – New Driver Model
One of the many reasons Microsoft requires and 8th Generation Intel CPU or a 2000 Series AMD Rizen CPU (or newer) is because they support DCH drivers. DCH is a model you can read more about HERE if you want, but it boils down to update the base driver and any customizations separately. That means the functions you may see in a GUI or even at command line can be upgraded without actually changing the base driver.
This makes the upgrade process cleaner which makes it more stable and requires fewer reboots.
7 – Update Engine inside Windows
Previous versions of Windows were smart enough to only download the updates they did not already have, but the update engine in Windows 11will only download the PARTS of a updates it does not already have. For example, an update might have a new driver and 6 registry changes but if your Win11 PC already has the driver, it will only pull down the registry changes. Microsoft claims this makes updates 40% smaller.
And while we are on the topic of updates, Microsoft wants everyone to know that Intelligent Active Hours is now on by default. It uses AI (needless buzzword for algorithm) to figure out when you are not using the machine to install and reboot.
This exists in Windows 10, but is turned off by default.
8 – Sleeping tabs in Edge Browser
By now you probably know that the Microsoft Edge Browser is just an improved version of Chrome, but did you know there are two new features in Edge on Windows 11 that make it perform better?
- Sleeping Tabs removes nearly all of the resources being used by a browser tab that has not been touched in more than a few minutes?
- Because one of the first things you likely do with your computer is start the browser, Microsoft added Startup Boost. All this does is launch Edge in the background when you log in so it is uber fast when you launch it.
So on the one hand Sleeping Tabs apparently saves 33% less CPU and RAM which equals less electricity use which equals a longer battery life. But on the other hand having Edge run all the time is going to add resources… unless Microsoft is correct and you are like 98% of the world that runs their browser very soon after login.
Pro Tip.: Both of the settings can be set manually in Edge by users or can be set by an Admin using Group Policy.
Fun Fact: Both of these settings exist on MS Edge running on Windows 10 so we have no idea why Microsoft is promoting these as Windows 11 features.
9 – UEFI Only
If you don’t know the difference between UEFI and BIOS or you don’t understand the different between Secure Boot, Measured Boot and Trusted Boot, we have the easy explanation HERE.
Suffice it to say the Windows 11 requires UEFI and UEFI is faster and safer
The Ugly Truth
Windows 11 is just a skin on Windows 10. There are few improvements in Windows 11 that are not readily available in Windows 10 today and there is no technical reason Microsoft needed replace Windows 10. The few performance features that are in Windows 11 only could have easily been written into Windows 10. There is a reason:
- Windows 10 apps are 100% compatible with Windows 11 (ok, 99.999999%)
- Microsoft has an easy way to get around hardware limitations to allow unsupported hardware to install Windows 11
- IT Pro’s see all of the GPO’s and management tools renamed from “Windows 10 Only” to the ever so clever “Windows 10 and later”
We really like Windows 11 with two exceptions:
- We hate (not too strong a word) having a floating START bar and we move it back to the bottom left so icons are always in the same place and our muscle memory has value
- We hate (not too strong a word) having apps COMBINEd on the START bar. We want to be able to un-combine apps so they are always in the same place and do not require us to hover our mouse over the stack and then guess at which thumbnail looks like the right one. This is a performance killer and if MS does not fix it soon, we will go back to Windows 10, hack the registry (already tried it BTW), or get a third party utility to fix it.
In summary, we have found Windows 11 to be faster and to be an improvement on Windows 10, but that is mostly because it is really just Windows 10.1.