Windows 11's latest endearing mess rigorously and wrongly enforces Britishisms

Windows 11 is a mess. Weirdly, I find that quite endearing. After decades of its existence as a deathly dull operating system, I'm kinda into Windows showing us its fallible side. But does it need to do it so damn often now, and in such strange ways? The latest is the way that Windows 11 will auto-translate the context menu's option to compress data into a .zip file for people in the UK to say 'postcode.'

Though only sometimes.

Because yes, Windows 11 is a mess and cannot even decide when to be consistent in its own weird foibles. 

For those of you a little confused about what a postcode is, it's effectively the same as a US zip code; a way of distilling a postal address down to but a few characters. Hence why some rogue auto-translate function in Windows 11 is occasionally switching 'zip' to 'postcode' in the UK's Windows menus.

I'm a person in the UK, and my machines have always offered up the option to 'Compress to Zip file' on my gaming PCs. Though today, my office rig now auto-corrects that to postcode for me. The AOKZOE A1 Pro handheld gaming PC I'm testing, with the exact same version of Windows 11 and the exact same language settings—all set to English UK—retains the option to compress to Zip file. It's the same deal on the test rig sat next to me. Again, it's the same version of Windows 11, the same language settings, and it's not doing the weird auto-translate.

This sounds like one of those instances where Microsoft is doing some sort of A/B testing, punting out some little feature onto a bunch of systems and not others. Though, that's kinda the point of the Insider preview builds, which I've not got running on any of my rigs at the moment.

But it's happened on my live systems before. For example, I once had a new update to Edge that made it look all lovely and rounded and I was really into it. Then it went away, and I was sad. Wish I could get that back.

It's not just UK translations Windows has problems with either. Apparently there's a whole lot of fun to be had if you're running the OS from Spain and Holland, too.

One of Windows 11's biggest issues is that it's a conglomeration of different parts, all built at different times, and by different teams of people. And they evidently don't always communicate with each other that well. That's why we've got several different options and settings screens, with different user interface styles dating all the way back to Windows 2000. In fact, with the CMD you've effectively got the DOS UI at your fingertips in 2023.

The thin veneer of functionality presented by its modern-looking UI quickly falls away as you start digging into Windows 11's myriad OS settings. And this occasional little translation quirk is yet more evidence of a whole bunch of bits of Windows 11 not knowing what the other is really doing.

Windows 11 AMD driver error

(Image credit: Future)

Want some more evidence? How about how on the odd update Windows will just install a new version of your AMD graphics drivers that's incompatible with the Adrenalin software you might already have installed for your Radeon card. Y'know, just for kicks.

It's simple to resolve, but really shouldn't happen. Could probably do with an AI co-pilot to sort all that out, eh?


Windows 11 review: What we think of the new OS
How to install Windows 11: Safe and secure install
What you need to know before upgrading: Things to note before downloading the latest OS
Windows 11 TPM requirements: Microsoft's strict security policy explained

Dave James
Managing Editor, Hardware

Dave has been gaming since the days of Zaxxon and Lady Bug on the Colecovision, and code books for the Commodore Vic 20 (Death Race 2000!). He built his first gaming PC at the tender age of 16, and finally finished bug-fixing the Cyrix-based system around a year later. When he dropped it out of the window. He first started writing for Official PlayStation Magazine and Xbox World many decades ago, then moved onto PC Format full-time, then PC Gamer, TechRadar, and T3 among others. Now he's back, writing about the nightmarish graphics card market, CPUs with more cores than sense, gaming laptops hotter than the sun, and SSDs more capacious than a Cybertruck.