Windows 11: Former Microsoft exec ‘shocked’ by Start menu experience

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“Shocked” by the user experience offered by the Windows 11 Start menu, a former Microsoft executive spoke out on Twitter. His speech highlights the shortcomings of the new menu…and suggests great avenues for improvement.

Windows 11 Start Menu on the Specter x360 16, for illustration // Source: HP

Does the Windows 11 Start menu irritate you? You are obviously not alone. On Twitter, Jensen Harris, former director of user experience at Microsoft, rightly attacked the menu of the latest version of the operating system and some of its features. Through a series of tweets, the interested party details point by point what bothers him about the user experience currently offered by the Windows 11 Start menu, and the Bing search engine that it offers.

This speech, which made noise on Twitter at the end of August, has already led Microsoft to correct some of the problems pointed out by its former executive. A first step calmly welcomed by Jensen Harris whose intervention is interesting in many aspects.

An eminently perfectible Start menu

The Start menu is Microsoft’s flagship user experience. It should represent the best user interface design the company is capable of. begins by explaining Jensen Harris before detailing the many specific sources of disappointment, according to him, of the Windows 11 menu and especially in regards to the corners of the different elements of the interface: some corners are well rounded, others poorly rounded and others completely square. A point that Microsoft has since corrected, but which was in fact obvious a few weeks ago.

Jensen Harris is also not kind to the Bing Wallpaper app banner ad saying it’s ugly enough to make it look like it is”infected with a virus “. The interested party also highlights that the latter takes over”a background from the Windows Vista era “, completely out of date… and strangely recycled by Microsoft to the detriment of any consistency. Again, Microsoft has corrected the problem by removing, less than 24 hours after Jensen Harris’s intervention, said banner.

The Start menu is Microsoft’s flagship user experience. It should represent the best user interface design the company is capable of.

Today I searched Windows for “chrome” and was amazed at the user experience.

—Jensen Harris (@jensenharris) August 29, 2022

Among the flaws that still deserve to be fixed at this point, Jensen Harris also addresses the Bing search offered by the Start menu. In fact, in some cases, Microsoft commandeers much of the display space devoted to results to advertise its own services (the Edge browser in the case of a Chrome search, for example). For the former director of user experience at Microsoft, the presence of these various ads is not justified in this case.

Is the amount of dollars that this wallpaper app earns worth belittling the experience that people have in this very tactile part of the interface? A good user interface should help people accomplish a task with a minimum of friction. But the next section is expressly designed to introduce friction into my experience.», Jensen Harris rightly believes. “This is the largest start menu UI and is specifically designed to distract me from the task I intended.“, he continues.

Source: Microsoft

Jensen Harris finally points to the new positioning of the Start menu in the center of the taskbar in Windows 11.bad decision”according to him, since this placement would go against the reflexes learned by the user over the years spent on Windows. However, he does note that this default center positioning can be easily changed from the operating system settings.

Despite his many criticisms of the Windows Start menu, the former Microsoft executive wants to be clear: his attacks are aimed at Microsoft’s choices and not at the work of developers anddesignersrunning on Windows 11.

Microsoft has many brilliant designers who care deeply about the work they do. I have worked with several of them that are still around! »explains in particular Harris. “It’s just about knowing what you prioritize. The user experience should be designed as intensely as your technology investments“.

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