Home Latest News Former Microsoft employee slams Windows 11's Start Menu design – Ghacks

Former Microsoft employee slams Windows 11's Start Menu design – Ghacks

The Windows 11 Start Menu is once again drawing flak from users, this time from a former Microsoft employee. Jensen Harris, who worked at the company for 16 years, slammed the Redmond company for ruining the Windows 11 Start Menu’s design.
Former Microsoft employee slams Windows 11's Start Menu designFormer Microsoft employee slams Windows 11's Start Menu design
He posted a series of tweets to share his opinions about his experience with Windows 11.  He termed the Start Menu as the flagship user experience, and says that he was shocked by its design in the latest OS.
Image courtesy: Jensen Harris
Microsoft recommends Edge as the default browser wherever possible, even going as far as to changing the default browser a bit complicated. This is something that has been widely criticized among users, the tech community, and even other browser makers.  These ads extend to the Start Menu of the operating system. Harris compared the Edge recommendation in the right panel of the Start Menu’s Search interface to the Internet Explorer toolbars from the 2000s.
He said that the Bing Wallpaper app ad at the top of the search result looks like banner ads from the Geocities-era. The ex-Microsoft employee seemed to have been equally appalled by the inconsistent design principles in the UI, particularly mentioning the corners of the ads and buttons, one of which was rounded, another one has a square edge, while a third has a squircle design. That’s kind of ironic considering that the rounded corner design was touted by Microsoft as one of Windows 11‘s design standards.
Harris also questioned the company’s intentions about placing ads in the Start Menu, asking whether the amount of money that the wallpaper app makes is worth “cheapening” the user experience. The former Microsoft engineer also criticized the migration of the Start button to the center of the taskbar.
Harris was the Director of Program Management for the Windows User Experience.  So one can imagine he has a lot of insight about the GUI. He recalled the time when Microsoft once prioritized the design of the Start Menu, explaining how his team had created a special ligature for the font used in Windows (Segoe UI). They had to work on aligning the S and t in Start together. But that is no longer the case. Harris highlighted the importance of the UI, while mentioning that many designers whom he worked with are still at Microsoft. The talent is there, but it doesn’t seem to be utilized correctly.
I think he is spot on with his arguments, the Start Menu is after all one of the most used features in the OS. But it is barely recognizable if you’re coming from an older version of Windows, which in turn ruins the user experience. There are of course other issues in Windows 11, such as the lack of an option to move the Taskbar to the top or the sides of the screen, Taskbar right-click menu, etc.
Users have complained about the Start Menu in Windows 11 ever since the first preview version of the OS was released, but when a person who was formerly in charge of software design at Microsoft gives their opinion about the UI, it hits on a different level. It clearly shows that the company is not focusing on the user experience.
Sadly, most companies see their customers as being more property than customer, nowadays.
The W11’s start menu is such a kind of combined crap that nodoby really understands. Furthermore I wonder when another employee will tell us his truth about the nonsense of the new “dock” taskbar and the new menu options and so forth. Anyway I would prefer that the employee was still working in MS, because it’s really easy to talk being a former one, please guys, be more valiant! It’s ok that you work for the money, but please do stop releasing such this monthly crap. Hopefully, it’s probably that someone else will also explain so many other silly things that are currently making W11 the worst unusable amount of garbage ever done by a billionare company, no respect for the users at all. W10 beats W11 in so much senses that it’s barely a clearly act of BDSM to install it at your computer. Thanks for the article. :]
In terms of usefulness and design, Windows 11 is a total failure. It appears adorable to kindergarteners but is completely unusable for work and productivity in the real world. It appears as they employed a group of inexperienced college students to work on Windows. One year later, the most basic features, like expanding the start menu, navigating straight to the all apps section, or turning off the recommended area are all still missing. Let’s not even start a discussion on Windows 11’s two worst features, the new taskbar and right-click menus. They are not worth your time. These inexperienced developers are too busy adding MSN, dumb webized widgets, and other scattered advertisement throughout the UI, that makes the operating system feel malicious.
Windows 11 is the outcome of Microsoft’s terrible decision to put a snake oil salesman in control of software. Starting with Panos Panay, every single Microsoft employee who worked on Windows 11 needs to be fired.
I understand it. “Give us simple” we said. Microsoft went a few steps too far. I still prefer it to anything with ****** live tiles.
Okay, I’m asking this question in good faith: Can anyone point to *anything* in the native UIs of Windows 8, 8.1., 10, or 11 that’s actually more functional, more consistent, more attractive, or easier to use than the native UI of Windows 7?
I only tried 8 very briefly while casually checking out new laptops in stores, and that’s in fact what prompted me to start switching to cross-platform apps to the extent possible and to begin trialing different Linux distros in earnest (a very worthwhile endeavor for anyone who’s alarmed at the direction Microsoft has been taking in recent versions of Windows). Windows 10 came bundled with my new laptop (whose hardware doesn’t support a “downgrade” to Windows 7), and though I tried using the native Start Menu for a good three months, I couldn’t *stand* it and ended up installing Open-Shell, which I use to this day.
So again, can anyone point to *anything* in the native UIs of Windows 8, 8.1., 10, or 11 that’s actually more functional, more consistent, more attractive, or easier to use than the native UI of Windows 7? (The only things I can think of are “Task View” and, if you group Taskbar buttons, the ability to cycle through a given program’s open windows by repeatedly clicking on their grouped button.)
Glad to help. Obviously telemetry and the recording of your activity for Microsoft’s use is a lot more functional. And you can certainly view many more advertisements (err..I mean suggestions) from Microsoft. And you get to have Bing and Edge forced/pushed on you. Not to mention Office 365. And you are kept more safe via forced updates even if you might not really want them for a year or so until the user-based beta testing is complete. And oh yes, there is a beautifully curated news feed, specially censored by freshly minted and woke graduates from the finest universities to make sure you don’t get any exposure to the wrong kinds of viewpoints. Sure you might have to live with an awful start menu and some of the other downgrades that have taken place in Windows 11. But aren’t all these improvements worth the tradeoff?
@Herman Cost: You’re preaching to the converted! You know, Microsoft should really offer a choice between a Woke news feed and a Deplorable news feed, to get both camps to hate and fight each other instead of focusing on the fact that they’re *all* being profiled and data-mined to an extent that would have made Stasi *green with envy*. You read it here first!
When you right mouse click on the Start button, Windows 8 through 11 bring up a power user menu. Windows 7 is quite scant in comparison. Otherwise, I agree that 7 is more user friendly than its descendants.
@Seeprime: That power-user menu actually looks *pretty damn useful* to me, as I’ve been accessing Event Viewer, Device Manager, Disk Management, and Command Prompt (Admin) moderately often lately and the power-user menu is a very easy way of getting to them. I’m just going to have to remember to use Winkey+x to invoke it. Really appreciate the tip!
@ Peterc
I couldn’t really help here, since I’m still on Windows 7… I’ve never ventured further.
The problem is there is none. After Windows 7, everything Microsoft touched turned into trash. We can only restore a functional UI by installing third party tools. Microsoft needs be split up seriously. I would be better if Microsoft open-source Windows that way they can focus on their azure cloud crap, while the community fixes Windows the way it should be.
As mentioned in article, having talented people won’t help if the higher ups are crap.
I wonder why many crap people ends up on high position.
the UI remind me with some configuration my linux installed on my home. its looks like gnome 42 with arc menu extension
I could even stand the new start menu in the sense that I don’t even open it having fully configured FreeCommander (along with XnView and Everything), but the taskbar…
Aside from the fact that for a couple of programs I still don’t see compatibility to Win11, if I am going to waste time behind updates where I have to be a guinea pig and where the same programs to patch these embarrassing innovations risks don’t keep up with constant changes, hell no.
A quick exploration and immediately the downgrade and OpenShell. Let alone if everything goes smoothly, I don’t remember Firefox in dark mode starting with a white flash that gives you a headache and then with the recent updates Internet Explorer wasn’t supposed to get out of the way?
Microsoft seems to have fallen foul of what most big companies seem to suffer from at some point in time, upper management, marketing, and PR thinking they better know what the customer wants than the actual people working on and designing the product even though most of the time the people working on the product do so because they have a real passion for it.
This is nothing new and reminds me of the situation at Mozilla. The devs are no doubt talented but the management is trash.
The start menu has been garbage since windows 8 upwards. Do yourselves a favour and install open-shell or pay for software such as StartIsBack/StartAllBack. The problem is that the issues run far deeper than the start menu. The entire UI is shambles and don’t get me started on the control panel and Settings page.
Here is another example of convoluted trash. Once upon a time you could right click on the system tray and edit the visible icons efficiently with a few three or four clicks tops now you have to go through and entire ordeal just to achieve such a feat.
People have to deploy privacy tweaking applications to null the general garbage from Microsoft, control the updater, edit the taskbar further beyond just the start menu, fix explorer, the context menu, default application, etc etc.
Windows is a perpetual alpha/beta project that is more of a service than and OS that one can trust and depend on.
I totally agree that Microsoft should open the source for the OS and let the community build the OS. I am relatively sure that the build that the community could come up with would be wildly better than anything Microsoft could come up with on their own.
Tabbed explorer is something they are just now starting to add and its light years behind something like QTTabBar. Could you imagine what the developer of such third party applications could come up with if they were given access to the source code of windows and possibly even paid to work on their product.
I will also say that System Explorer (no longer developed and seemingly abandonware) is vastly superior to the built in windows task manager and has been for several years.
It’s as if Microsoft sees these third party products and says… Hey I think we can copy some of these ideas but make a worse version of them and tout it as a revolution.
Employees don’t care what the public wants. They just want to stay employed. If this means ruining a good OS or a formerly good search engine (Google), they run with it.
The Windows 10 start menu was the best version of it
That’s not always entirely true.
I work for a company that I am often at odds at but also take it upon myself to be make positive changes and influence the culture in a more positive manner. Often at times its also about leaving things as they were because some changes are not for the best.
I can imagine designers created many concepts that were vastly better and it seems that this engineer obviously felt strongly about certain things. being a former employee may be an indicator of his displeasure, having said that 16 years isn’t as long as many imagine and is in line with the decline of windows if you will.

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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.


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