Care About Windows? Do Not Watch This Video

Posted on April 28, 2022 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 11 with 90 Comments

If you have any hope at all that Microsoft put any thought into the design of the Windows 11 Start Menu, do not watch this video. If on the other hand, you hate yourself and everything you care about, this is a fantastic way to develop a drinking problem.

I cannot believe they published this video. It makes what was bad even worse.

I am lost for words.

Join the discussion!

BECOME A THURROTT MEMBER:

Don't have a login but want to join the conversation? Become a Thurrott Premium or Basic User to participate

Register
Comments (90)

90 responses to “Care About Windows? Do Not Watch This Video”

  1. SherlockHolmes

    LOL. Makes sense :-P

  2. sonichedgehog360

    Jeb Bush "please clap" - Microsoft remix

  3. geoff

    I think we're massively over-reacting to this video.


    A large company holds focus group feedback sessions to help them design something.

    Nothing new here.

    That company seemingly ignored at least half of what they heard, thereby offending those very people who gave feedback.

    Nothing new here.

    IT people show how change-adverse they really are by resisting some new thing.

    Nothing new here.

    Everyone has an opinion about Windows.

    Nothing new here.

    Everyone has some particular frustration with Windows which they assume others share - not realizing that those others all have their *own*, different, frustrations.

    Nothing new here.


    Why did Microsoft have to inflame the mob by making a video about it? I, personally, have no idea.

    Nothing new here.

    • feek

      My thoughts as well

    • hrlngrv

      | IT people show how change-adverse they really are by resisting some new thing.


      Not everything new is progress. The Windows 11 taskbar prime case in point.


      | Why did Microsoft have to inflame the mob by making a video about it?


      MSFT has few if any stupid employees, responses to this video should certainly have been predictable, so Occam's razor suggests MSFT enjoys inflaming the mob. Nothing new here.

    • abiyoya

      Perfectly said @Geoff!


      How about adding:

      Mob mentality spends more of its time and "wisdom" to feel better about themselves and opinions.

      Nothing new here.

    • navarac

      It doesn't help that MSFT doesn't listen to people aka focus groups, or Feedback - they just rely on telemetry, which a lot of sensible people turn off anyway.

      • Greg Green

        Sinofsky regularly justified every bit of ridiculousness in Win 8 with his telemetry. Made me wonder where he got his telemetry.

  4. brettscoast

    Seriously what were they thinking

  5. vladimir

    it’s incredible how much at Microsoft is driven by Apple envy. The problem is that they will never beat Apple at their own game and always look inferior

    • Andi

      It's not Apple envy. I think it is worse. The dominance of Apple among interface designers as a symbol of good design; the fact that probably most of the persons in the video are all ios/ipados/macos users at home and have been Apple users through out their schooling. Microsoft is being changed by the cultural impact of Apple on their own employees.

    • winner

      You're never going to be a leader when you are always following, Microsoft.

    • johnnych

      Yeah, you know it's crazy when you have to make a video to try and explain the task bar design. Just make something that Windows users like and enjoy and try to stick with and improve upon it. But if you're gonna copy/steal designs from someone else, the last thing you need to do is waste more time making design decision videos about it lol! ohh Microsoft... (:

      • dftf

        Microsoft aren't alone in creating media post-a-change to justify it.


        Google also did this for one of the changes that most-irritated users in Android 12, where they removed the separate "Wi-Fi" and "Mobile-Data" icons, and merged it into one "Internet" tile.


        You can view there justification-post here, along with all the "please revert it" comments here:

        support.google.com/pixelphone/thread/132446941/behind-the-scenes-looks-at-the-new-internet-tile

  6. kawaidon

    Thank you Brad Sams for 'Start 11' !!!

    Everyone who hates the Windows 11 start menu should download and try this wonderful answer. It makes the Windows 11 overall design functional and customizable.


    And, well, why doesn't Microsoft just buy Brad's creation for a few million $$ and fire the people who worked on the Windows 11 design.


  7. david.thunderbird

    They look like they just got their BA's. No life experience.

  8. proftheory

    Did you get that from the college humor website?

    It's not a good sign when Windows 11 is compared to 8.0 - I went through that.

  9. ronmcmahon

    Perhaps the wisest action would be to introduce a fully integrated skin capability like has existed in the Linux realm for decades. This would enable users and corporations to finally have full control over the look and feel of the Windows UI/UX and eliminate all of this nonsense, distraction and idiocy over worries if a toolbar should be centred or left justified.

    • hrlngrv

      I agree 99%. The remaining 1% is due to the look of MATE panels on left/right sides of the screen, ugly as sin.


      I used LiteStep under XP, and I know there's LOTS of ways the Windows desktop UI could be configured which MSFT has no interest in providing.


      And to repeat something I've mentioned elsewhere, if only it were possible to log directly into WSL with an X Server and use Linux desktop environments in Windows. As long as it's possible to launch Windows applications from WSL, should be NBD to set the Exec lines in .desktop files to do so.

  10. hrlngrv

    > If you have any hope at all that Microsoft put any thought into the design of <insert product here>


    Metaphysical first: there are such things as evil thoughts. Prosaic second: for years MSFT has been throwing different UI concepts against the wall to see what sticks; how much does methodology matter?


    Having used Classic Shell then Open Shell for most of a decade by now, I have no particular feelings about what MSFT provides. Unlike most other, er, seasoned Windows users I never liked the Windows 7 Start menu, never used Vista, and used Classic theme and Classic Start menu in XP. Classic/Open Shell gave me a Classic Start menu with a search box without the cruft.


    To me Windows 11's taskbar+menu looks closer to the Chrome OS Shelf than what macOS provides. FWIW, Chrome OS lets users place the Shelf on any side of the screen, and I put mine on the left side in order to maximize vertical space in maximized windows.

  11. thalter

    The Start Menu is a vast wasteland and has been for some time (since at least Windows 8). Since the capability was introduced in Windows Vista, I basically pin all my apps to the task bar (making it effectively a macOS Dock), and seldom use the Start menu.

    • hrlngrv

      If one's concerned about launching programs as quickly as possible, Windows 95 to Windows 7 Start menus provided context menus for .LNK shortcuts which allowed one to assign keyboard shortcuts to launch them. There's nothing faster.


      One of Windows's bigger missteps is that the Start menu (and all of its subdirectories) aren't implicitly in %PATH% so that they could be run from the Run dialog either with .EXE basenames or substring matching against shortcut name. An alternative would be disk indexing also ensuring that everything under the Start menu had an App Paths registry subkey. Instead, we need Search. Or maybe something like doskey aliases incorporated into the Run dialog, e.g., w for Word, x for Excel, o for Outlook, killmenow for PowerPoint.

      • VMax

        > If one's concerned about launching programs as quickly as possible, Windows 95 to Windows 7 Start menus provided context menus for .LNK shortcuts which allowed one to assign keyboard shortcuts to launch them. There's nothing faster.


        Win+n for the first, second, [...], tenth icon on the taskbar provides an equally sppedy, though numerically limited, alternative.

    • alsorun

      My taskbar only shows the apps that are currently running.

  12. ernie

    I keep a select set of apps which I use nearly every day on my taskbar. I keep another select set of apps that I want fairly easy access to, on the Start menu. I rarely access the 'All Apps' menu, so other than moving the Settings icon from the Start Menu to the Folders bar at the bottom of the Start Menu alongside of the Power button, and occasionally using one of the Apps I keep there (in the Start Menu), I rarely open Start Menu. The only thing I miss from the Windows 10 Start menu is the ability to organize the apps I keep on it into named groupings.


    As for the question "Which is better", in my opinion, the main difference is the new paint/Chrome job that comes with Windows 11. I think that MSFT would have done better to have put in a bit more time and effort into getting the 'new' version of Windows ready for general distribution and getting everything working correctly before releasing it. Failing that, under-the-hood fixes should have been their top priority after the release. Instead, all I can see is them adding more spit and polish to apps like Notepad and (soon) the Task Manager.


    The biggest thing I dislike in Windows 11, is the apparently increased focus on 'targeted advertisements', much of which I know can be disabled, but for how long? If they get too carried away with the in-OS advertising, I may find that I'm happier and able to get more done using my GNU/Linux distribution of choice. My main excuse for sticking with Windows used to be 'muscle memory' because I was familiar with the UI. Windows 11 has removed that excuse, and I am re-evaluating my decisions. I'm not one to make radical or impulsive changes, they are usually evolutionary, occurring in incremental stages, and taking a considerable amount of time for consideration and research, but this is the first time, since Windows 3.1 that I have seriously considered jumping ship and switching full time to using GNU/Linux as my desktop of choice, and that is no small thing. I truly wish that I had MSFTs ear so I could let them know what a disasterous set of errors in judgment they have made regarding Windows 11, but I don't, and I am only a single voice, and I know that my opinions may not reflect those of the majority of users.


    My2Cents,


    Ernie

  13. Pierre Masse

    I don't have much to say here, and I believe there is nothing much to say about this. I's not that bad. I'm furious when Microsoft kills a product, but not when they try to improve the UI, even poorly. As for the ad, It's just an ad. Since when an ad should move your sensitivity? Of course they lie, of course it's stupid : it's an ad!

  14. Greg Green

    One fellow looked younger than my mouse. Maybe that’s the problem. There’s few replacements for experience.

  15. ruivo

    I'm not a fan of piling up on people, but this video looks EXACLY like one of those spoofs where they will talk those buzzwords and then present a terrible, mangled product that leaks and smells.

    The inane background, the jiggly camera, the sideway takes, even the way they talk sound like an SNL skit mocking corporate culture. And Microsoft fell squarely on the pattern.

  16. Travelrobert

    I don't get it? What is it that's so bad?


    They tried it on people? Let people do some "Start-menu puzzles"? It's a way to get data and I don't see any major problem with it. I also assume it's not like two people of the street and that's all they rely on. I'm guessing they used it as part of their feedback, along with other sources.


    Seriously, aren't we searching a little hard for things to bash around Windows?


    I don't have a single issue with the Start Menu. None of my colleagues have a single issue. Nor my wife and friends. I don't even get what it is I'm supposed to be upset about!?

    • Greg Green

      The video has 46,000 views and 1k likes. It’s obvious they missed most people. You’re one of the few they hit. The 2.1% target they apparently were aiming for.

  17. Daekar

    I'm confused. Why are people acting like we just found evidence that Microsoft runs concentration camps?

    I'm just as sad as everyone else to see the more flexible Win10 Start Menu go away (I like tiles, Sue me), but it's not like a kitten dies every time you open Start on Win11.

    If I get hate it when I finally build a new PC and get Win11, I will give Brad some money and change it

  18. mdlynam

    What's crazy for me is my muscle memory want to throw my mouse down/left when getting to the Start menu. It's getting easier to not do that, but jeez.

  19. waethorn

    It’s not even a menu.

  20. johndehope3

    I'd pay money if the windows chrome were common across all apps. Let's not even get started on the start menu. I run 10+ apps at a time, half from MS, and every single one seems to have slightly different chrome. It's driving me nuts.

    • hrlngrv

      All Office programs are fairly similar these days. Which other MSFT programs with inconsistent UIs? Applets bundled with Windows like File Explorer, Notepad, Paint? To be fair, there's so little in Notepad's menus that it should be possible to fit it all in a miniribbon.

  21. Cardch

    So that's why they put weather where the Start button used to be. Because some people liked it and, err, others didn't.

    • hrlngrv

      A real cynic would posit that MSFT put the weather (Widgets) where the Start button used to be in order to be able to claim a big increase in Widgets users.

  22. lindhartsen

    Saw this in their Insider newsletter this week but that brought up a question - why are they re-sharing this video like it’s new. This is marketing nonsense from about a year ago. ?‍♂️

  23. JustDavid

    A WTF!? moment, for sure!

  24. alsorun

    I realized that these are much, much younger people who are in charge at Microsoft. They surely think differently.

    I am also an older man but I have learned to accept or even learn from how my kids are doing things.

  25. dftf

    Maybe they could try, oh I dunno... NOT changing it with every new Windows release?


    If you look for screenshots online of the initial macOS releases (10.0, 10.1, 10.2) then modern-day macOS still looks incredibly similar: still has the Dock at the bottom; still has the Menu Bar at the top; System Preferences is like the old Control Panel in Windows (a grid of icons); Finder gained a search-box and a side-panel, but I'd imagine otherwise still offers the same feature-set. Now sure, the visual look of the window chrome and widget-set (buttons, scrollbars, etc) has changed: but if you do side-by-side comparisons, things are all still almost the same and in the same places.


    Within that same timeframe, Windows XP was the last one to use the "Windows 9x" and 2000 style; Windows Vista and 7 then did their own thing; Windows 8 suddenly thought everyone using a non-touch device would surely love to pretend as though they were; Windows 10 itself has changed a lot since the initial 1507 release; and now we have Windows 11.


    Maybe they could consider just adding new features, rather than constantly changing the look?

    • hrlngrv

      And give the overpaid redundancies in the video nothing to do?!

      • johnnych

        It seems like you don't quite get what Microsoft employees do with their time every day, let me just make a quick video trying to explain it all to you... one minute!

  26. harmjr

    So where was the part that people wanted more advertising in the Start menu. I think I missed that part.

  27. dougkinzinger

    Heaven forbid they actually listen to their customers instead of being engineers who just want to change things.

    • hrlngrv

      There are possibly a few billion Windows users worldwide, most of them outside the US.


      The users mentioned in this video who mocked up what they wanted came from where? Any from outside northwest Washington state? Any who weren't at least acquaintances of MSFT employees? Were they a representative sample of all Windows users?


      Even a half-assed engineer should be able to assemble a user group which could validate that engineer's preconceived biases.

      • yaddamaster

        that's not how UX research happens at Microsoft or anywhere else. The engineers and designers have no clue who their subjects are and every attempt is made to make sure they have a broad set of users. And yes - they do user research online now as well. It's not just people who can drive to building 18.

        • Greg Green

          And ever since Win8 their results have been embarrassing and frustrating. They’re not doing it right.

    • dftf

      If they want to start listening to their customers, I'd suggest they create an app, built-into Windows, where users could offer such feedback. If it were me, I'd suggest calling it "Feedback Hub" ;)

  28. jdawgnoonan

    I just want to know who's feedback made them believe that users wanted a recommended area on the Start Experience at all.

  29. jrjr

    Good to know that some jobs are even more irrelevant than mine.

  30. SherlockHolmes

    So they still use pen and paper to design Windows. That explains a lot ;-)

    • ggolcher

      Using pen and paper for early design iterations is a UX best practice. Low fidelity iterations are cheaper and faster to evolve and get feedback at the conceptual rather than structural level.


      For card sorting research studies like this one, it's the best way to go as well.

      • ianbetteridge

        I think it's quite extraordinary the reaction here about this. This is just standard professional user experience work, with some basic user card sorting. I would be seriously worried if Microsoft wasn't working like this.

        • dftf

          Yeah, it's no-coincidence that if you look for websites online that let you create Windows or Mac dummy UIs (in a Visio-like drag-and-drop style), they often have a "pencil-sketch" style to them.


          Plus, many 2D tile-based video games of the past, such as Mario, Sonic, Donkey Kong, Commander Keen, Zelda, or 3D games that use a grid-based layout, such as Wolfenstein3D or Tomb Raider (and many-more in both categories), had levels sketched-out by hand on grid-lined paper, or by using Post-Its to create a part of a level, which the level-designers could then re-order to see what worked best.

    • alsorun

      What is wrong with using pen and papers? I always derive my equations using pen and paper before I typeset it on a computer.

  31. jwpear

    I connect with others on the lack of customization with the Start menu. However, I get lots of work done every day on Windows 11 despite all the noise about how bad it is. I think we've reached that point where people use "Windows 11 sucks" comment to show how cool they are.


    I'm not cool. I just roll with it and get [email protected]*t done.

    • jlmerrill

      I guess I'm not cool either.

    • alsorun

      jwpear, you are spot on. I have 4 computers running Windows 11 and I am happy. Compared to Win 10, there are two major benefits. One is the snap feature. The second is Win 11 is less distraction for its static star menu.


      Please do not have such a condemning attitude just because you disagree.

      • hrlngrv

        In Windows 10 you could unpin all tiles and narrow the Start menu to show only All Apps and the icons on the left side. Wouldn't that be sufficiently nondynamic?

      • Greg Green

        The video has 46,000 views with 1k likes. That’s underwhelming support.

      • dftf

        The snap-feature is likely useful on touch-devices, but I really can't see why with a mouse you couldn't just drag them. I bet most-users will only use two main layouts: two windows each taking half the screen, or on higher-resolutions, four windows, each snapped to a corner. But regardless, there are third-party apps that can replicate this in Windows 10 if you really like it.


        As for a less-distracting Start Menu, I'd assume you mean you don't like the animated tiles. In which case, either remove those you don't use, or right-click on some of the live ones (e.g. Weather), go to "More" and then "Turn Live Tile off" and it'll just be a static app icon.


    • Paul Thurrott

      First of all, sure. Generally speaking, I do like Windows 11. And I use it all day every day, and I can obviously be productive using it.


      I can't just mention that caveat every time I complain. But ... Yeah. We should remember that.


      But I also don't even use the Start menu. And for people who do, this is a radical change, with many functional regressions. It's also a horrifying simple/unsophisticated interface that never should have made it into a shipping product. For example, if you remove all of the icons from, say, the Pinned section, the Recommended section doesn't resize to fit. There's just a huge blank space there.


      Point being, the complaints about the Start menu are valid. That doesn't negate the positive stuff in Windows 11, I guess. But it still deserves to be pointed out. And when Microsoft pats itself on the back for designing such a half-baked UI, it's perfectly reasonable to complain about that as well. This UI is terrible and something to fix and be ashamed of. Not something to celebrate.


      • jwpear

        I absolutely agree that Microsoft has gone too far with the Start menu. I typically only use it for less frequently accessed apps. It bothers me that I can't get a full menu full of the things I want on it. It's a terrible design, but I don't think that makes Windows 11 worthless overall, which kind of seems like the sentiment that's starting to build because that's what all the cool kids are saying. That was the point I was trying to make. Perhaps not so well.


        There are other things I dislike about Windows 11 as a dev. For example, why can't I right-click anywhere on the taskbar and access Task Manager? Was that really making the OS too complex for all users? I doubt it. Normal users probably didn't even know that existed. It's terribly useful for devs. Anyway, I've adjusted to right-clicking on the start button.

    • jdawgnoonan

      Windows 11 isn't bad at all. It is certainly better looking than 10 by a long shot too. However, other than the new start menu most of it is new paint on old stuff.

    • red.radar

      I was surprised that they enabled comments on the YouTube video… but then I realized its the Windows Insiders team…they know how to ignore feedback.

      • hrlngrv

        None so deaf as those who will not hear.

      • dftf

        The Edge Insider, Windows Insider and Feedback Hub teams thesedays are likely all one-and-the-same ;)

    • hrlngrv

      I also get stuff done with Windows 11 . . . by hiding the Windows 11 taskbar and using a 3rd party dock along with Open Shell. Credit to MSFT: they still make it easier to use 3rd party desktop UI component replacements than Apple does in macOS.


      Also, this may be a message MSFT really doesn't want to hear or comprehend: Windows users use Windows application software for orders of magnitude more cumulative time than the Windows desktop UI. For most Windows users, the launcher doesn't much matter: at best it's an irrelevance, sadly more often an annoyance. As for the taskbar, on 16:9 or wider monitors, there are damned good reasons to want it on left or right sides of the screen.

    • red.radar

      Well… I got things done with Windows 8 too. Doesn’t mean I liked it.


      Windows is a very very mature platform, feature regressions are not tolerated.

      • hrlngrv

        | Doesn’t mean I liked it.


        Taking this to its logical extreme, people live with cancer . . .

    • vernonlvincent

      I feel this sentiment too. I use Windows 11 at home on two machines and neither I (the techy) nor my wife (the non-techy) have any issues getting stuff done at all. I get the frustration about removing functionality that was previously there, but there are always ways to add it back. That's always been the beauty of Windows - someone can always write a utility to add or put back what might be missing.

      • dftf

        "... someone can always write a utility to add or put back what might be missing."


        Yes, but it still annoying when you have to get third-party apps just to restore what you'd think would be basic features that code-wise surely cannot cost that much time to maintain?


        I can understand some stuff justifiably getting removed: few people I'd imagine cried when MS said they'd no-longer ship the floppy-disk driver as part of the base image. Or with the modern alternatives we have now, that things like NetMeeting are no-longer a thing.


        But it both irritating and presents a security-risk to have to regain basic functionality by downloading third-party apps from random sites or users. It's the same with Firefox: sure, I could download various extensions to gain functionality many browsers now have as-standard, but who are the people who make them and can I trust them, given some of them need "access to data on all websites".

        • hrlngrv

          | Yes, but it still annoying when you have to get third-party apps just to restore what you'd think

          | would be basic features


          Who decides which features are basic or expendable? Well, MSFT owns Windows, you just license it.


          While it may suck to lose functionality, take solace in the fact that MSFT has left it relatively easy for those interested 3rd parties to add that functionality back because it's becoming as sure as death and taxes that MSFT has no intention of doing so.

  32. abrarey

    They've should release this video on April 1st.

  33. erichk

    Sometimes it seems like they're OVER-thinking it just a tad.

    • hrlngrv

      Can one ever expend too much effort at ass-covering?

      • erichk

        At least the DOS command line didn't need to be over researched with focus groups. I miss those days!

        • sonichedgehog360

          The last good, mean and lean Windows was Windows 2000. No UI bloat or overthinking, and it was and is faster than Linux at booting even decades later.

  34. zeromus2003

    This video proves how tone-deaf Microsoft are about their signature product. The only reason for changing the Start menu was because they wanted to salvage the failed work of Windows 10X... its really that simple. Windows 10X got scraped and they salvaged what they could thinking it would work for everyone. I know it sounds like crapping on Windows 11's issues all the time, but we only complain because we genuinely care about this product. Clearly new leadership is needed or someone needs to get Panos Panay back in reality. I mean "details matter", eh?

  35. crunchyfrog

    What did they say about the camel? It's a horse designed by a committee...