Microsoft kills Start menu
Microsoft recently killed the Start Menu, and their explanation for it seems fairly straightforward: no one used it. This may be a bit of an exaggeration, but Microsoft explains that use of the Start menu dipped by 11 percent between Windows Vista and Windows 7, with many specialized Start functions — such as exploring pictures — declining as much as 61 percent.
When you can’t figure out the easy way to launch stuff, look in the Start Menu. This is change for change’s sake. How is someone suppose to use this? You can’t, without much anguish. Why?..because they didn’t like the look of the big, floor-to-ceiling look of the old XP system, they shrunk it all down so that it only shows 5-6 items at a time and has a scroll-bar. In short, they made it harder to use and less functional than the XP Start Menu, and to everyone’s amazement, people stopped using it, and then they claimed it was some sort of UX triumph.
Ditto with the control panel – rather than one big screen with 100+ tiny icons on it, they reworded a few things (“Display” becaome “Personalization”, and there are 2-3 different UIs rather than the tabs on the old-fashioned XP display.cpl) and made them all look like web-apps. Now that it’s unnavigable with words or icons, everyone uses “search” and it “feels faster”. You can’t write documentation that says Start-Settings-ControlPanel-Display-Screensaver, you have to say “search for ‘screen saver’ and clicky on whatever pops up”… *sigh*
Much like Firefox, most UX innovation is precisely that. If you don’t get the results that match your pet UI design philosophy, move the feature around, and while your users are trying to find the feature you don’t want, accumulate enough telemetry to claim your users aren’t using it as often, then take it away. (Status bar, full URL in the URLbar, etc.)
And the problem fundamentally isn’t that the Start Menu is too complicated. It’s that they’ve never provided a good tool for *managing* it. So the average person, being unaware that it’s just a bunch of directories and shortcut files, suffered with the floor-to-ceiling scrolling menu from hell. M$, on noting their complaints, responded by taking away most of the menu. This led to a different set of complaints, since now no one can find anything and the reaction is to give up on the start menu entirely.
But it still didn’t solve the real problem, which as I said is still that there’s no good tool that average non-savvy users can turn to for *managing* the Start Menu. How hard could it be to make a nice little interface (not relying on drag-and-drop in the live menu, which in my observation is usually a disaster) geared toward letting average folks sort out their programs into reasonable hierarchies, so the Start Menu isn’t always One Huge Mess??
Me being an avid user of Linux Mint , I much prefer using Cairo Dock and Mint Menu, both of which are configurable. I have to chuckle over this, and just shake my head.
It would be fine if I never changed computer, or never needed to re-install the OS, however, any time you used a different computer / OS, you would need to re-organize things, go against the defaults. The other problem I had was that sometimes it was hard to perfectly categorize things. Googles Chrome browser and it’s ChromeOS is working to conquer this aspect.
Without the Start Menu, how do I shutdown? Hold the power button down for ten seconds, just like always.
So in Windows 8 (for those that tried the demo, yes I downloaded the ISO and setup a VM to try it) they replaced the simple little menu in the start button with a whole screen monstrosity that takes the entire desktop. Taking over my whole desktop because I pushed the start button isn’t the answer to this problem. IMO people don’t use the start menu much because they put icons of their most used programs in the quick launch tool bar and on the desktop itself. Instead they take a simple menu, blow it up full screen and if you decide you don’t want to pick a program and go back to what you have running, there is no logical way to do it (there isn’t a close button that’s obvious, ESC doesn’t work, right click doesn’t work).
Gnome3 and Ubuntu’s Unity solution to doing away with the start button is far better than what Microsoft has cooked up and I don’t really like those either but I can see them working better). If I fail that badly using their “NEW AND IMPROVED” start menu I can’t even comprehend how disastrous this will be for the less computer literate. The best part is, you cannot bring back the old start menu that I could find. It’s not in the control panel, the options are gone from the right click menu, etc.
Microsoft is making a huge mistake overlaying their Windows Phone 7 Metro interface on windows. This is a huge mistake that’s obviously being done to use the windows monopoly against the phone competition. It’s going to backfire and damage windows just like Vista did.
Microsoft killed the Start menu because they want to force everyone to use Windows Phone, even if they aren’t (initially) buying a Windows Phone. They failed for years to sell phones that look like a Windows desktop, so instead they’re changing the Windows desktop to look like their phones, and hoping that iOS and Android end up looking “foreign” to phone users as a result.
People click on the Start menu when they want to find something to Start. Imagine that. The bottom line is that the Windows 95 UI (which is to say, Microsoft’s ripoff of the RiscOS UI [guidebookgallery.org]) was the pinnacle of personal computer desktop UI design. Everything that’s happened since then has been change for change’s sake and has only served to annoy users and get in their way.
There is really nothing wrong with a start menu. Microsoft however never enforced a good practice with their start menu, the signal to noise ratio is VERY low. It’s cluttered with company names, uninstallers and readme files. Why should I have to know the name of the company if I want to use a program, looks very much like advertisement to me. Instead of enforcing a good practice they have extended the start menu with “most used programs” which really doesn’t cure the underlying problem, and to me it’s even more cluttered. They should get rid of everything but the program starters in correct folders, Games in games folder and so on, one program has one menu entry, this was probably how it was meant to be by the original designer but never enforced. Look at Gnome, very simple, and very effective. And now Microsoft have come to the conclusion that nobody uses their cluttered mess of a start menu, and are killing it. I say it could be fixed, but Microsoft doesn’t seem to know what’s wrong with it.