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  • The Windows Start menu: Trials and tribulations

    Home Forums AskWoody blog The Windows Start menu: Trials and tribulations

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      • #2389382
        Lance Whitney
        AskWoody_MVP

        WINDOWS By Lance Whitney Don’t get me started: Windows 11 saddles us with yet another major change to the always vital but never quite right Start men
        [See the full post at: The Windows Start menu: Trials and tribulations]

        6 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2389392
        doriel
        AskWoody Lounger

        Windows 11 looks like previously announced Windows 10X, that were actually canceled. They just made a Windows 11 instead, didnt they? What else to do, if your code was already written 🙂

        Have a look on this, for example. Do they look the same?

        Dell Latitude E6530, Intel Core i5 @ 2.6 GHz, 4GB RAM, W10 20H2 Enterprise

        HAL3000, AMD Athlon 200GE @ 3,4 GHz, 8GB RAM, Fedora 29

        PRUSA i3 MK3S+

        1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2389463
        bmeacham
        AskWoody Plus

        I like the Windows 10 start menu. Is anybody making a way to run a Win10-style start menu on Win11?

        1 user thanked author for this post.
        • #2389501
          BillH
          AskWoody Plus

          I have the same question as bmeacham.  I don’t want to go back to the Win 7 start menu.  I like the Win 10 start menu.  Is there an app that will allow us to use a Win 10 style start menu on Win 11?

          Bill

      • #2389493
        chasrome
        AskWoody Plus

        No problem.  Open Shell is all I have ever needed and it works well.  No Start Menu problems with any of the three Win10 machines I work with ever since I found it years ago.  And even more good news, two of my machines do not qualify for Win11!  Thanksgiving is coming early this year.

        2025 coming soon you say?  On the off chance that any of us are still here and functioning, I will plan to upgrade my remaining (qualified)  machine in January, 2026. Might even buy a new laptop then too.

         

        1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2389548
        berniec
        AskWoody Plus

        I’m delighted to read about start11!!  But I’ve been using open-shell — any word on whether open-shell will come out with a win11 compatible version?

      • #2389574
        glnz
        AskWoody Plus

        I don’t have Win 11 (yet), but on my Win 7s and 10s, I have been using Start Menu X, at

        https://www.startmenux.com/index.html

        It has been very good, and there’s a very good free version.

        2 users thanked author for this post.
        • #2389993
          SueW
          AskWoody Plus

          Indeed. I really liked Win XP’s cascading Start menu. After finding out about Start Menu X in 2015, I’ve been using it ever since.

          Win 7 SP1 Home Premium 64-bit; Office 2010; Group B (SaS); Former 'Tech Weenie'
      • #2389598
        AKHandyman
        AskWoody Plus

        I’ve used Classic Shell for years … anyword on a version for Win11?

        • #2389607
          Steve S.
          AskWoody Plus

          Classic Shell has not been in active development since 2017.

          It was “revived” by a different group of volunteers into a program that’s now called Open-Shell (which is what I’ve been using on Win 10).

          At this time, the Open-Shell goup haven’t made any firm or formal announcements about supporting Win 11. The following is the only thing I’ve found so far – though it doesn’t really clarify Open-Shell’s future regards to Win 11: https://github.com/Open-Shell/Open-Shell-Menu/discussions/745

          Win10 Pro x64 20H2, Win10 Home 20H2, Linux Mint + a cat with 'tortitude'.

          1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2389709
        Alex5723
        AskWoody Plus

        Start11™
        Now in Beta
        Restore the Classic Start Menu in Windows 10/11.

      • #2389713
        Ascaris
        AskWoody MVP

        Though Microsoft keeps changing the Start menu with every new version of Windows, the company has yet to get it right.

        They had it (mostly) right in Windows 95 to 2k, IMO, and optionally in XP and Vista. In Vista and XP, one could select the classic start menu from the UI, but for Windows 7, MS blocked access to the classic start menu (the resources were still visible in explorer.exe with a resource editor, but there was no entry point) because, in their words, the classic start menu was 13 years old, and it was time to move on (because the fitness for purpose for user interfaces is apparently based on time elapsed, not on any usability concerns).

        Thankfully, MS didn’t have any say in the design of the car, where the same user interface paradigm has been in place for approaching a century now. When you get something right, there’s no need to completely change it just because 13 years have elapsed. If you have a better way, by all means, offer it as an option, but don’t change things just because you want to make a fashion statement!

        There were refinements possible with the cascading start menu (like the search field in the bottom of the start menu that is automatically focused on menu open, which was how I had it in Classic Shell when I used 8.1), and the default system of letting each software publisher define their own program categories (which evolved from 3.x’s program groups) wasn’t the best way of organizing things, but MS didn’t attempt to polish something that worked into something that worked really well. They threw it out, and continued to do so with each new Windows version, with no option to use any of the previous versions in 8.x, 10, or now 11.

        The menu I use (in KDE Plasma) is what I consider to be the evolution of the MS cascading start menu if MS had kept at it rather than throwing it out. The top level menu has program categories that are not the name of the software company, but are instead things like System, Settings, Utilities, Games, Office, and so on. In Linux, there are a number of predefined categories like this that work cross-desktop, so there’s no need to for a software publisher to create its own unless the existing categories really don’t fit at all.

        It works very well, and IMO it should be the default in Plasma (instead of the Win 7-like one they now use). There are three options for “start” menus included with Plasma, and several more user-created start menu styles offered in the KDE addon library, accessible through the UI itself.

        MS could have done all of this, of course, if they wanted to. It’s a shame they don’t.

        And the latest version in Windows 11 shows that Microsoft hasn’t learned from its past mistakes (witness Windows 8).

        It wasn’t really a mistake, per se. It was an effort to use Microsoft’s dominance in the desktop market to make up lost ground with Apple and Google in the mobile market. It didn’t please desktop Windows users because it was not written for their benefit… it was written for Microsoft’s benefit, and while that gambit failed to make them a credible third player in the mobile market, it didn’t stop them from trying again with Windows 10. They tried again to use desktop Windows users as a stepping stone to mobile credibility, but it failed again, and MS left the mobile market as a result.

        MS gave up on mobile, but they haven’t given up on releasing operating systems meant to serve their own interests rather than those of the Windows user.

        This lack of user choice reveals a certain arrogance that has often tarnished the company.

        Indeed, but sadly, this arrogance is not confined to Microsoft. Apple’s “you’re holding it wrong” mentality has spread across the software landscape. Options used to be regarded as a good thing, but now ]the belief is that options are mainly used for working around bugs or problems with the software, so offering options is an admission of the devs’ own inability to get it right. No software dev wants to admit their own lack of software development prowess, so they offer it one way, declare that to be the right one, and they refuse to entertain any requests for options. If you ask, it’s an insult, and they will react poorly.

        One really good example of this is Mozilla. They’ve been removing options for years, and every time someone asks them not to remove something they’d planned to, they react with hostility and weak excuses about how removing people’s choice is the right way to go. They’re not about options at Mozilla anymore… they’re about “getting it right,” which they defined well over a decade ago as “just like Chrome.” If you don’t agree that Chrome defines perfection, then you’ve run into my philosophy: One size does not fit all.

        The idea that there is any one way of doing things that is objectively “the right way,” and that any given company or developer will be able to find and implement this one true way, requires a hefty bit of hubris. There’s nothing inherently and objectively “right” about what any developers consider to be the right way, whatever that may be.

        Even my archetypal example of getting something right, the cascading start menu, is not liked by all… and that’s fine! I think they got that one right, but that’s a subjective opinion, and I make no claims otherwise. It’s no skin off my nose if someone else uses a different menu! If MS had offered the 7, 8, 10, and 11 start menus in addition to the classic menu, I’d be fine with that, even if my own choice isn’t the default.

        MS, however, is not in the user-pleasing business these days. They’re in the user-monetizing business, and the older menu designs didn’t include Microsoft’s monetization desires as part of the original design, and to offer these older designs with monetization tacked on would be too obvious a departure from the older designs as they once were.

        Dell XPS 13/9310, i5-1135G7/16GB, KDE Neon
        Dell G3 15/3579, i7-8750H/16GB, KDE Neon
        Asus P8P67 Deluxe, i5-2500k/16GB, KDE Neon

        5 users thanked author for this post.
        • #2389720
          doriel
          AskWoody Lounger

          The menu I use (in KDE Plasma) is what I consider to be the evolution of the MS cascading start menu if MS had kept at it rather than throwing it out. The top level menu has program categories that are not the name of the software company, but are instead things like System, Settings, Utilities, Games, Office, and so on. In Linux, there are a number of predefined categories like this that work cross-desktop, so there’s no need to for a software publisher to create its own unless the existing categories really don’t fit at all.

          I dont know when exactly it began, but this is how menu in GNU/Linux works for decade or more. Im pretty used to this. Maybe its benefit of the software center, that SW is divided into groups. With MS copied the store principle, it can be done in Windows in the future too. But this will never happen.
          Only groups in start menu sort by type, were native Windows applications. All others were by vendor, which was quite fine. Todays fiddlin with start is literally bothering users. But hey, you should expect that if you joined beta or dev channel, or whatever betatesting you are performing.
          The worst part is changing those fundaments for enterprises and performance orientated machines. There is no need to constantly improve start menu. Whats the point of this? For me, there are far more important parts of the “operating system”/service that need adjustment. Like two control panels, from which the older one is sadly still the better one. The new one is absolute mess, that is confusing. Also, visual design is really poor, and navigation is awfull. Sometimes I have no clue, if the link will take me to the web through Edge (disrespecting my def browser setting), old control panel, or some different branch of new control panel (ms-settings: app).
          This is just my opinion, obviousy, I expect different things from operating system, than Microsoft PR department does (or is it really head of development department, that WANTS those changes). Or maybe does MS feedback center produce those outputs, making MS change these looks so often?

          MS gave up on mobile, but they haven’t given up on releasing operating systems meant to serve their own interests rather than those of the Windows user.

          Words of wisdom. There is nothing else but money on MS management mind. Users are just portable wallets, that are available for sucking.

          Dell Latitude E6530, Intel Core i5 @ 2.6 GHz, 4GB RAM, W10 20H2 Enterprise

          HAL3000, AMD Athlon 200GE @ 3,4 GHz, 8GB RAM, Fedora 29

          PRUSA i3 MK3S+

          2 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2389732
        BillH
        AskWoody Plus

        Start11™
        Now in Beta
        Restore the Classic Start Menu in Windows 10/11.

        This appears to offer a “classic” start menu, but not the Windows 10 start menu with a list of programs and program folders on the left and a list of group-able live tiles on the right.  Am I missing something?

        Bill

        1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2389758
        Curt Miller
        AskWoody Plus

        You missed the worst part. The pinned icons don’t support the recently used file list so you can’t just right click and open a file. It is really the worst of all worlds and I don’t usually complain about the “change for change sake” that most of the UI improvements have provided.

        1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2389810
        rc primak
        AskWoody_MVP

        Early days for Start Menu alternatives for Windows 11.  We still don’t know what will be possible, let alone how to accomplish things. But I do know one thing for sure — I will not pay money to fix whatever Microsoft breaks. Worst case scenario is I stop using Windows entirely and rely on Linux, which I can configure and adjust however I want, at no additional charge. In Linux, if we fork something, we don’t charge people money just to take advantage of the new fork.

        -- rc primak

        1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2389932
        oldfry
        AskWoody Plus

        Your article on the Windows start button conundrum is very much appreciated. If someone has a solution to make narrow vertical scroll bars fat and always visible in Windows 10, I would be pleased to know.

        With Windows 10, you can impact the desktop presentation UI in various ways according to how you prefer to work, some examples:

        Another alternative to the Windows Start button is to never click on it in everyday use. Each new PC gets a standard set of desktop icons. All useful links from the start menu are extracted to the desktop. This includes using multiple shortcuts to shutdown.exe, control.exe, cmd.exe scripts, etc. Less used icons end up in desktop folders. So no need for a Start10 program. The only time I click on Start is to grab the icon(s) of a new program install.

        Then the next problem is Windows 7 sometimes auto rearranges your desktop icons and you have to go hunting again for an icon. Stardock has another improved Windows user interface program called Fences, which you pay $6 for. With that program and the Lock Fences menu item, that problem of “spontaneous” icon position rearrangement is solved. And you neatly sort your icon farm into named groups on the desktop.

        Then the next Windows UI change is to replace the Windows builtin Sticky Notes with the more full featured freeware program Stickies, from Zhorn Software, with multiple skins.

        While my multi-monitor desktop may appear cluttered to the Microsoft UI gods, at least my well ordered arrangement is at my finger tips with plenty of desktop real estate to spare.

        Since I have been running a vertical right side task bar in Windows 7 then 10, please let me know when someone has figured out how to get that back in Windows 11. So I guess Windows 11 will need a task bar enhancement program too.

        • #2389940
          PKCano
          Manager

          If someone has a solution to make narrow vertical scroll bars fat and always visible in Windows 10, I would be pleased to know.

          Settings App\Accessibility – uncheck “hide scroll bars” (I think it’s near the top of the first page).

          3 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2390152
        MHCLV941
        AskWoody Plus

        hide scroll bars

        It’s easiest (I think) to open settings and search for “hide scroll bars”.

        The actual sequence is Settings –> Ease Of Access –> Display.  “Automatically hide scroll bars in Windows” is in the “Simply and personalize Windows” section.

        Nevertheless, I never knew this was an option so thank you very much for the tip!

        1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2390154
        MHCLV941
        AskWoody Plus

        In the bad old days, i.e., Windows 8, a law student working in my wife’s office purchased a new laptop shortly before she had to take the bar exam because the one she’d used all through law school was pretty rickety. A computer was more or less required to take the exam and she did not want to risk failing because it died in the midst of the exam (one can take the bar exam more than once, but preparing for it take a lot of very intense study and the exam itself is expensive).

        She started up her brand new machine and Windows 8 reduced her to tears. She had absolutely no idea how it worked and was convinced she would fail the exam due to Windows 8’s UNusability. MY wife had her bring the machine to the house and I put Start 8 on it. She passed the exam the next week.

        3 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2390233
        dtl6156
        AskWoody Plus

        About the start menu in Windows 11, what about an absolutely free and very useful alternative. Make a ‘New Toolbar’ then add whatever programs you choose. I have 3 additional ‘Toolbars’ that I have only 3 letters as the name and they are pinned to the main taskbar. With a quick click on the ‘caret’ icon I have access to programs directly without ever going to the Start Menu. Not extremely pretty, but then again, it works on every version of Windows and will most likely work in Windows 11.

      • #2390287
        wavy
        AskWoody Plus

        Settings App\Accessibility – uncheck “hide scroll bars” (I think it’s near the top of the first page).

        thats ease of access>>display for me

        🍻

        Just because you don't know where you are going doesn't mean any road will get you there.
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