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

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To say that the Windows 11 Start Menu has caused some controversy, put it in moderation. Microsoft moved this important user interface component to the center of the taskbar, and removed a lot of the functionality that was in Windows 10. Yes, you can move it to the left, which a lot of people did in the first 10 seconds of using the new operating system. However, not many people are impressed with the changes Microsoft made to launch in Windows 11. In an effort to defuse some of the harsh criticism it receives, Microsoft has begun reminding the people who are ultimately responsible for its design.

According to Windows Latest, Microsoft recently sent out an email to Windows Insiders on the release, Beta and Dev channels. The email address, “How We Build Start,” reads, “Windows 11 Start is all about you. We’ve relied on your feedback to guide us forward.” It includes a link to a video posted on June 28, 2021 that appears to have been ignored so far. The video includes interviews with several Microsoft employees about the process they used to create the Start Menu in Windows 11. It includes several choice quotes and a discussion about how user feedback guided the process.

A user researcher named Ashley starts things off by stating the obvious, “It’s really easy to design something you love, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to work well for everyone.” Next, a start button designer named Christian declares, “For us, we need to listen more than just listen.” The manager of the start button program, a young guy named Eric, notes that they were asking a lot of questions to users. Those included pivot queries like, “Should the start button be aligned left or center?” 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. This includes a search box, weather, documents, apps, etc. Users were then told to rank them in the best way they saw fit. The designers admit that while the results varied, they saw a pattern. “We’ve always seen searches, files, and apps together,” says design lead Ryan. They concluded that this reinforced what they were already thinking, giving them confidence that they were heading in the right direction.

The Star List Search project allows users to rearrange the “boxes” of items in the start menu; New concept. (Photo: Microsoft)

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

I can’t even pin a game to the start menu. The only thing I see when I open it is a completely random set of apps I’ve never used. I will never use it again. It includes apps that are not even installed, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Tik Tok. I suppose Microsoft got paid for them to be there. Nothing against these apps but I wish I could customize the start menu and taskbar.

But what’s really annoying is the fact that Microsoft states that its raison d’être is Listen to their customers. These are the same customers who have complained about the Start menu and taskbar since the operating system was launched last year. Microsoft has clearly listened to the complaints, so why would it suddenly revive this video? It’s over a year old and now they just remind customers of it? Microsoft couldn’t be more deaf if you tried.

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