As with previous Windows versions, Windows 11 lets developers extend key parts of the shell with new functionality. And key among these capabilities is the ability to extend the context menus and Share dialog in the new platform, even from unpackaged Win32 desktop apps.
Microsoft describes these capabilities in a new blog post. But the more fascinating part of this discussion, I think, is how the firm improved the context menus and the Share dialog in Windows 11 in response to issues with these interfaces in Windows 10.
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According to Microsoft’s Xander Fiss, the context menus in Windows 10—which you can view by right-clicking or, with multi-touch or a smartpen, pressing and holding—are chock full of problems. The most common commands—Cut, Copy, Paste, Delete, and Rename—are buried too deep in the menu, and far from the mouse pointer (or touch/pen point). The menu is far too long, and it has been growing in the 20 years since it first appeared in its current form in Windows XP. It features rarely-used commands that take up space. And so on.
The Windows 11 context menu addresses these problems, Fiss says. Commonly-used commands are placed right where the menu is invoked. “Open” and “Open with” are grouped together. It formalizes the location of app extensions, including cloud file providers, as well as the presentation of multiple app actions, or “verbs,” which will now always appear in a flyout sub-menu to reduce clutter.
(Windows 11 also allows users to return to the Windows 10 context menu by choosing the new “Show more options” item or by typing SHIFT + F10.)
As for the Share dialog, it has also been improved in Windows 11. Nearby sharing is now easier to use. Your own email address is now the first entry in the contacts list, so you can more easily send an email to yourself. And most importantly, all apps, not just Store apps, can now participate in the Share dialog as share targets. This includes unpackaged Win32 apps and PWAs installed through Microsoft Edge.