Microsoft reminds us that the Windows 11 Start menu is (supposedly) based on user feedback

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To say that the Windows 11 Start menu has caused some controversy is an understatement. Microsoft moved this critical UI component to the center of the taskbar and removed much of the functionality it had in Windows 10. Yes, you can still move it to the left, which many people did in the first ten seconds. to use the new operating system. However, many people aren’t a fan of the changes Microsoft has made to boot into Windows 11. In an effort to seemingly defuse some of the vitriol it’s getting, Microsoft has started reminding people who is ultimately responsible for its design.

According to Windows Latest, Microsoft recently emailed Windows Insiders who are on the Release, Beta, and Dev channels. The email is titled “How we built Startup” and it reads: “Windows 11 Start is all about you. We relied on your feedback to guide us forward. It includes a link to a video posted on June 28, 2021 which was apparently ignored until now. The video includes interviews with various Microsoft employees about the process they used to create the Windows 11 Start menu. It includes many quotes choices and a discussion of how user feedback guided the process.

A user researcher named Ashley kicks things off by stating the obvious: “It’s really easy to design something you like, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it will work well for everyone.” Then, a Start button designer named Christian proclaims, “For us, we need to listen more than just do.” The manager of the Start button program, a young man named Eric, notes that they were asking users a lot of questions. These included crucial queries such as “Should the Start button be left-aligned or center-aligned?” He goes on to mention a variety of questions they asked people. This all leads to the point of the video: Microsoft decided to just ask people what they wanted.

In the video, the designers say they gave users pieces of paper representing items that could be included in the Start menu. These include a search box, weather, documents, apps, and more. Users were then asked to organize them as they saw best. The designers admit that although the results varied, they observed a trend. “We’ve always seen search, files, and apps together,” says design lead Ryan. They conclude that it reinforced what they were already thinking, giving them confidence that they were going in the right direction.

The Star Menu Research Project allowed users to rearrange “tiles” of items in the start menu; a new concept. (Picture: Microsoft)

According to Windows Latest, this is not going well with Windows Insiders. The majority of comments on the Insider site are negative. People just want to be able to customize the Start menu, like they could in Windows 10 and 8. Indeed, the majority of YouTube comments are nasty too. What’s so infuriating about this finding is that it’s so fundamental to UI design. Everyone has their own preference for what they want to organize things, so why not let users customize it to their liking? You know, like what people said in your research? How did each have a different idea of ​​how it should look and be organized?

I can’t even pin a game to my start menu. The only thing I see when I open it is a totally random assortment of apps I’ve never used. I will never use them either. It includes apps that aren’t even installed, like Facebook, Instagram, and Tik Tok. I guess Microsoft got paid to have them there. Nothing against these applications, but I would like to be able to customize the start menu and the taskbar.

What is really infuriating is the fact that Microsoft emphasizes that its raison d’etre is listening to its customers. These are the same customers who have been complaining about the Start menu and taskbar since the OS launched last year. Microsoft clearly heard the complaints, because otherwise why would it resurrect this video all of a sudden? It’s over a year old and they just remind customers? Microsoft couldn’t be more deaf if it tried.

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