Windows 11: ex-Microsoft executive ‘shocked’ by Start menu experience

“Shocked” by the user experience offered by the Windows 11 Start menu, a former Microsoft executive spoke 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

The Windows 11 Start menu irritates you? Obviously you are not alone. On Twitter, Jensen Harris, former director of user experience at Microsoft, rightly attacked the menu of the latest version of the OS 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 by the Bing search 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 welcomed in stride by Jensen Harris whose intervention is interesting in many respects.

An eminently perfectible Start menu

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

Jensen Harris is also not kind to the banner ad for the Bing Wallpaper app, which he says is ugly enough to make it look like it was “infected with a virus “. The person concerned also emphasizes that the latter takes over “a Windows Vista era background “, completely outdated… and strangely recycled by Microsoft to the detriment of any coherence. Again, Microsoft has corrected the problem by removing, less than 24 hours after the intervention of Jensen Harris, said banner.

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

Today I searched for “chrome” in Windows and was shocked by the user experience. pic.twitter.com/GZq386qqzK

— Jensen Harris (@jensenharris) August 29, 2022

Among the faults that still deserve to be corrected at this stage, Jensen Harris also tackles the Bing search offered by the Start menu. In some cases, Microsoft indeed requisitions a good part of the display space devoted to the results to advertise its own services (the Edge browser in the case of a search for Chrome, for example). For the former director of user experience at Microsoft, the presence of these various announcements is not justifiable in this case.

Is the amount of dollars earned by this wallpaper application worth belittling the experience 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 following section is expressly designed to introduce friction into my experience.», Believes, rightly, Jensen Harris. “This is the largest Start Menu UI, and it’s designed specifically to distract me from the task I had intended.“, he continues.

Source: Microsoft

Jensen Harris finally takes aim at the new positioning of the Start menu in the center of the taskbar on Windows 11.wrong decision”according to him, since this placement would go against the reflexes learned by the user over the years spent on Windows. Note however that this default central positioning can easily be changed from the OS settings.

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

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


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