You will need to download many of Windows 11's 'pre-installed' apps in order to use them

Windows 11

Here's an odd one: when Windows 11 launches in a couple of weeks, it will include a number of pre-installed apps... except they won't really be pre-installed. Eh?

This slightly strange state of affair comes as a result of Microsoft taking steps to reduce the size of Windows 11's footprint to help improve performance. What it means in practice is that in order to use apps such as Microsoft To-Do, you'll click the shortcut -- which is really just a placeholder -- and the app will then be downloaded for you.

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Another app that pretends to be preinstalled is Sticky Notes. Anyone attempting to launch the app from the Start menu will be greeted by a message informing them that "Sticky Notes needs an update". But rather than Windows 11 "getting the update ready for you" as the message continues, what is actually happening is that the Sticky Notes app is being downloaded in the background.

It is an approach that Microsoft is only taking with some of its smaller, less significant built-in apps, and while Microsoft's claims that "this reduces size on disk, and you’ll also see less background update activity and download traffic" clearly holds water to some extent, this is not the end of the story.

Savings on disk usage are extremely limited, but what Microsoft's new approach means is that everyone has the very latest version of an app installed from the first time they launch it. There is no chance of seeing an older version of the app and skipping an update as the very latest version is automatically installed on first launch.

As Windows Latest notes, Microsoft is referring to this approach as features-on-demand (FOD), and it also allows manufacturers to remove any pre-installed Wi-Fi and Ethernet drivers that don't apply to a device's hardware.

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