5 subtle design annoyances in Windows 10 that we just can't unsee

I'm a huge fan of beautiful, consistent user interfaces, and love it when something looks good in software. I'm pretty good, maybe too goo, at spotting things that don't look so good in software, and was recently challenged to list five subtle UI issues found in Windows 10 today. These are design things that you might not have ever noticed or don't care about which are out of place, broken, or outright wrong when compared to the rest of the Windows 10 aesthetic.

I have a keen eye for UI, which is a blessing and a curse. When using Windows 10, it's more of a curse, because it's probably the most inconsistent an operating system's UI can be. Thanks to Microsoft's insistence on supporting legacy software, Windows today is still jam-packed with icons, programs, and other UI things from over a decade ago.

We're not looking at those things today, however. We're looking at (mostly) smaller, subtle UI issues that for the most part have been introducing during Windows 10 tenure. So, let's dig in.

Music Control UI

Let's start with an obvious one, the music control interface in Windows 10. This one isn't subtle, but it's something most people aren't aware is out of place. If you're ever listening to audio of any kind and want to change the track or adjust the volume, a UI from about seven years ago will greet you at the very top left of the screen. It's using Microsoft's Metro design language, and was first introduced with Windows 8 back in 2012.

It just doesn't fit with the rest of the Windows 10 aesthetic, which is slowly but surely moving over to the Fluent design language. Interestingly, Microsoft had started work on a new music control flyout last year that does follow the new design language, but it's nowhere to be seen in the latest preview builds. I hope Microsoft is still planning to deliver it at some point.

This ugly colored line in Chromium browsers

This is an issue that bugs me every single day. Along the top of Chromium-based browsers such as the new Microsoft Edge and Google Chrome is this colored line. It shouldn't be there if you don't have "show colored borders around windows" enabled in Windows 10 settings. As far as I'm aware, it's a bug with the Windows Shell, meaning it's Microsoft that needs to deal with it, not Google/Chromium.

Either way, it's ugly and stands out if you're using dark mode with a light accent color and dark background like I do. No other windows have it, and other windows look much cleaner as a result. A workaround, for now, is to either use a dark accent color or always use Chrome or Edge maximized. I just want it fixed.

Acrylic effect pops in after animation

This is another UI glitch that drives me crazy every time I see it. Whenever you open the Action Center (and in some cases the Start menu too,) the acrylic blur effect that's supposed to be behind it pops in after the animation is complete. So if you've got a keen eye, you'll see your background through the Action Center or Start menu before the blur effect kicks in.

It just makes using the Action Center and Start menu feel janky and laggy, even though your PC is fine. This is an issue Microsoft actually fixed a few months back, but then reintroduced in another patch a few weeks later by accident, and it hasn't been fixed since.

Broken reveal effects in light mode

If you're a light mode user, you may have noticed that in many areas of the Windows Shell, the reveal effect no longer appears around some buttons and live tiles. It actually does appear, but since the shell is using bright colors, the reveal effects which are also bright clash with the UI and are challenging to see. This is odd, because Microsoft has a version of reveal that doesn't clash with light interfaces, yet it hasn't updated some shell areas to support it when light mode is enabled.

When light mode is on, reveal effects in the Windows Shell should use a dark accented version of the reveal effect. You can see this in use in the Settings app or Action Center when light mode is enabled. It's in there, but it isn't being used in places like the Start menu. Another small thing, but something I've noticed nonetheless.

Wrong blur effect in the System Tray overflow menu

Last, but certainly not least, is a thing that I'm almost certain few have noticed and fewer still will care about, but the System Tray overflow menu uses the wrong blur effect behind it. That's right, this tiny menu popup on the taskbar is using a blur effect from before Fluent Design was a thing, and as such, doesn't match the rest of the acrylic blur surfaces found elsewhere in the Windows Shell.

Essentially, the overflow menu's blur effect isn't as strong as it is elsewhere, meaning elements that appear behind it show up more fine than areas that have the correct blur strength. Like I said, this is a totally small thing, and something I bet most people haven't ever noticed. But it's there. And now that you've seen it you'll never be able to stop seeing it.

Share your subtle UI annoyances

So those are five subtle UI annoyances that I notice in my everyday usage of Windows 10. Microsoft, if you're reading, all of these small UI issues should be top priority and fixed immediately. For real, though, at least consider updating the Music Control UI and fixing the reveal effects in light mode. And the colored line in Chromium browsers, that one really gets to me.

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Zac Bowden
Senior Editor

Zac Bowden is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. Bringing you exclusive coverage into the world of Windows 10 on PCs, tablets, phones, and more. Also an avid collector of rare Microsoft prototype devices! Keep in touch on Twitter: @zacbowden.

53 Comments
  • Biggest annoyance is opening a folder in dark mode. The folder flashes white before eventually going black. It looks amateurish and is probably the biggest reason I don't use dark mode.
  • Wha? I have never seen this...unless I'm looking in the wrong place. Do you see it on more than just your PC? Could be a glitch.
  • Happens to me too using Win 10 on a Macbook Pro (Bootcamp)
  • I've seen it on everything from my Surface Go up to my beefy Dell XPS.
  • Yup, I also abandoned dark mode because of this same problem…
  • I see it too now. Not too distracting though. Didn't really notice it...till now.
  • Now you've done it Zac. r/windows10 is going to have a field day with your piece!
  • Totally agree with you Zac about the the Music Control UI. I really do not like it. Always have. It doesn't look good. It also doesn't always know which media I am playing. So while I have one paused and start playing another (like a video), if I adjust the volume, the dumb pop-up shows the graphics for the media I have paused (playing no sound). I don't like the placing of it on the screen. Actually, I don't even need that indicator at all. Wish there was a way to turn it off altogether.
  • I turn off all that garbage. I much preferred the Windows 8 aesthetic, I hated Aero passionately, and I hate Fluent as much. Also, I run everything in full-screen, so edges/borders aren't a thing for me. The music control doesn't bother me at all. It's easily readable and it functions well. I don't get the problem. It works.
  • Nothing in this piece is about functionality, bruh. It's an opinion piece about aesthetics.
  • You really need to switch ecosystems to Apple. It will fit your needs much better than Microsoft's dwindling offerings.
  • Agree 100%... with the new commercials. Apple's "shiny" OS was designed by a 12 year old girl.
  • Same here really, animations and Fluent/transparency is all turned off, on this machine. I do not see the point, I do not see it anyway. i never see the music control, but then I never really play music on this machine.
  • The wasted space on start menu below the last line of Live Tiles. If you resize your start menu to remove that dead space then you get scroll bars...
  • This ! This ! This ! Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrgh
  • What about the utterly broken Task View animation? The windows jump around after the animation has finished and when Timeline loads, even if it is disabled. It's been there for almost a year with no fix in sight. How can they not be bothered by this?
  • YES! I logged in just to mention this. I use multiple desktops everyday and the animation just kills me every time. How is that even acceptable? And what's worse is that it was actually good until the introduces the timeline, a feature I have never had a reason to use. Fine if others do use it, but I rather have the option to disable it to make the transition smooth / non-glitchy.
  • 1) Microsoft Store showing available updates for things other than apps such as drivers. Leave that for the equally terrible Windows Update. 2) Microsoft Store not showing the total download size of the app when you start updating. 3) Microsoft Store showing version numbers of the updates. Looks ugly. Certain things should just be hidden. 4) Tablet mode for obvious reasons. 5) Inconsistent UI. 6) Windows Update. I just got the new Thinkpad X1 Yoga 4th Gen. It took at least an hour just to install all the updates. You finish updates and then more updates appear. And still have to install all my software. Good lord. 7) The Action Center not taking me to the app when I click on the notification. Or doesn't disappear when I dismiss it or have already taken action within the app.
  • The notification banner. It just blocks you from doing anything in the system tray. If you keep on getting notifications repeatedly, you are just stuck till it's done.
  • Would opening the action center stop the flyout notifications?
  • By the way, the old blur effect also appears with the language selection and the window thumbnails. And while it may not count as design per se, there's also the horribly broken window previews when hovering over taskbar thumbnails.
  • The music control flyout is annoying with how big it is, how long it stays on screen, and that it's in the upper left. Lower right would be less intrusive. I think that's where it was in older Windows versions.
  • The flyout in that form didn't exist in older Windows versions.
  • Well, the whole blur thing after the login could be a transition instead of suddenly appear blurred. It looks cheap.
  • TOTALLY AGREEING WITH EVERYTHING! The whole Fluid implementation is honestly broken. They're trying to add acrylic glass effects to everywhere except none of these are applied while an animation takes place (E.g. notification banners, right-click on any app in the taskbar flyout, action center flyout, start menu, every single flyout from tray icons - wireless, sound, battery etc.), it's truly horrible. Why implement a blurry transparent effect at all if you cannot make it work from the moment an animation/transition starts - very amateur.
    Here's a few more things:
    - UI inconsistencies: Search vs Cortana flyout, icon inconsistencies (Win7/Vista vs Metro vs Fluent weird new icons - E.g. Word, Excel, etc), lack of fluid in win32 apps, inability to choose between sidebar vs top menu vs burger UI vs File-Menu vs Windows Phone bottom menu style in "Metro" apps (e.g. Store/Photo/Video/Groove Music/Clock/Maps vs Mail/Calendar/Skype/Your Phone/MS To-Do vs News/Weather/Onenote/Calculator vs 3D Viewer vs Voice Recorder) - The UI as much of a garbage as this sentence... :D
    - Animation glitches - I get that it's hip and cool to use glitches but these do not look purposeful - Animation for Activity Feed/Timeline occasionally glitches, the windows previews flicker or simply resize after the animation/transition is done. Acrylic fluid design effect always turns on after the animation is completed. Windows Explore closing transition leave behind window borders. Cortana and Search in the taskbar display flyout transition only the first time, no animation when switching between the two, no close animation.
    - Tablet/Touch UI - this is probably the biggest mess and such a downgrade from Windows 8. For some reason, the full-screen Start menu takes forever to load, the transition is annoyingly slow. Barely any gestures support in tablet mode. The left screen and right screen touch gestures are gesture commands as opposed to native gestures to slide open the action center. The only native touch gestures that feels natural is top to bottom close gesture which actually drags the app to the bottom and closes it, every other gesture functions as just a command as opposed to interactive real touch gesture. Oh, I could go on and on, I've highlighted also a few glitches on my Twitter account, such as the spotlight effect simply stopping to work after a few seconds and quick hover motions in Start menu, the random disappearance of quick actions in actions center and so much more... Honestly, I wish they would switch back to the per-version roll-out of Windows because this consistent rolling-base release seems to introduce more clutter and inconsistencies. They change their mind every few months and simply keep adding "fun and new" UI elements that nobody cares about and that conflict with everything previously released. Please, could they just make one OS that's clean, simply and consistent and release it as opposed to this cluster-f***. I would rather use a functional, consistent, well-optimized OS with none of these "cool" AR, VR, 3D print, and gaming features than a cluster-f*** OS that's trying to stay hip and cool while implementing like at least four different user interface philosophies per year. The worst part is how they seem to be so proud of Fluid Design Language while there really doesn't seem to be any philosophy behind it, even the modern/metro apps tend to have at least four different UI implementations on top of the Vista/7/8 UI mix-match of Win32 apps...
  • "Acrylic fluid design effect always turns on after the animation is completed."
    This is not true from my experience, apart from the Action Center and the start menu in very rare cases, it always works.
  • Microsoft should really have had this polished from the start or at least all sorted in one of the big updates. When they decided on releasing Windows 10, why didn't they sift through the entire system and find all the parts that needed to be updated, rather than having this mis-match of different UI elements all over the place. I still think the Windows 8.1 UI was lovely looking, it was swish and had a bit of class about it, and it looked finished. Like the start screen, although not universally liked, was fast and responsive and had some great transitions, I always liked how started a UWP app from the start screen would spin out and then fill the screen, but they got rid of all that, for no apparent reason other than their desire to rid all similarities or parts of Windows 8. The new boxes that open up from the taskbar for Search and Cortana now look shocking, (Cortanas pop up box doesn't even rest against the left side of the screen anymore!) and I actually think the earlier builds of Windows 10 looked nicer (once they reversed that ridiculous decision from the 1507 original release to have only white title bars! Who comes up with this stuff?) Other things that need changing are old dialogs, property boxes and screens, such as Device Manager and other MMC screens, none of which work with Dark Mode. It's like they don't know where to start so they just bolt things on as they go, but what they really need to do is delay a release and spend however long it takes polishing the UI and making it consistent rather than churning out these gradual updates.
  • Those notification icon badges are hideous.
  • Maybe for about a year now, windows snapped to the left or right of the display are a pixel too small on each edge leaving a transparent line of pixels all the way around them. Not just visually distracting especially with a brighter background, it means that when you throw the pointer to the top right gadgets for closing the window etc the pointer is actually off the window and so the clicks are going through to whatever is behind instead. Hopeless attention to detail is what ruins Windows 10 but all the more annoying that these kinds of things are bugs that are introduced by supposed quality/feature updates.
  • Worse for me in the icon design consistency. You look at your average taskbar, and there's monochromatic icons in one style, full colour icons in another, then another set in yet another style. It's a complete dumpster fire of various eras and designs, dating back literally a decade or more in some cases. They need to put a team on this specifically to sort it out. If they spent less time telling people to 'we hear you, put it in feedback' etc, then it wouldn't take all that long to fix.
  • I totally agree with you!
  • OH MY GOD the nofication center one is sooo annoying, and I've been seeing this since the 2018 October Update! Unbelievable. It's not possible that ANYONE at Microsoft haven't seen this.
    Can someone tell me if this problem is still present in the 20H1 builds?
  • I am disappointed to say, but yes, and it is actually worse in 20H1, it’s not just on AC it’s also on Start and all the other flyouts.
  • The very worst, in my opinion, is the terrible screen flash that happens when Windows is alerting you to certain things plugging/unplugging a USB stick. I just made a video to share here, because I think it truly deserves to be fixed. It is such an eyesore! https://youtu.be/fy5rNOM6FXU
    -Lamely Lounges
  • That's definitely not normal.
  • I think you can fix it by going to Settings, then on Ease of Access, go to Audio, and then on Visual Alerts. There you can find a combo that allows you to change the behavior.
  • I've never thought 'who cares?! ' and meant it more than this. What a fat nothingburger you've cooked up.
  • Agreed. Some people just seem to have WAY too much time on their hands. Perhaps go outside, look at some trees and clouds. You are obviously staring at your computer screen for far too many hours each day.
  • Snapping of windows/apps doesn't work as it did earlier. Some windows will be placed with wrong offset and prevent resizing of the snapping. Some snaps will also be placed with wrong top offset as well. I hate this.
  • Yes, so much. 1. The delay on Acrylic is on the whole shell now in 20H1, Start, AC, and flyouts. 2. Icons are all from different eras, it looks like a mess. 3. They removed Background Acrylic from left navigation sidebars, UGH why? It looked great! 4. They added a thin border to the search box and it’s thick and colored when expanded, it’s so DISTRACTING! 5. They refuse to migrate Control Panel to Settings for some reason, and therefore Control Panel when in dark mode is still half light. 6. Some of the system has rounded corners and some has boxed, it should all be rounded. 7. There are borders on all windows, some different colors than others on different sides, there should be no borders, just shadows. 8. Some apps have title bars, some don’t, some are Acrylic, some are white. We should have ALL Acrylic title bars in every app. 9. Some navigation bars are thin and blue, some are thick and grey, and most don’t have Acrylic anymore (WHY?). They should all be the Fluent NavigationView layout and should use Background Acrylic. 10. File Explorer. This one explains itself. Just rebuild it please. This is all because of their stupid “journey” malarkey with Fluent and the slowness is making Windows look like an inconsistent mess designed by a rushing middle school student trying to get a design project in on time, not caring about the grade. Please Microsoft, fix your system, please. Before it’s too late. You can’t implement these design changes so slowly, you need to do it how you always do, all at once, and consistent!
  • Focus assistance menu is opened UNDER notifications! You just can't stop them showing up when you are in a call! This is really ridiculous and in best Windows Mobile traditions there you can answer a call, get screen locked and now have to unlock the phone somehow to drop a call
  • Microsoft has had their 24 months of improving the desktop. It's long overdue improve the tablet UI exprience. This is my major annoyance on all my windows tablet pcs and the surface pro devices. -Autorotating snapped apps is still not supported. In desktop mode it is choppy and jarring. The former is so weird. It is simply not possible to rotate two snapped apps in tablet mode between landscape and portrait orientation, absolutely weird and a counterintuitive in a touch/tablet UI. 5 years overdue.
    -Snapped apps side by side in tablet mode portrait orientation. For many apps too narrow. It's better to have them one above the other, just like on productivity mode on many modern smartphones. 5 years overdue.
    -In general animations in desktop mode of opening and closing apps is smoother than in tablet mode. Don't understand why this is not the same.
    -The changed positions of the minimize/maximize and delete all notifications buttons in action center. Two years ago they were the other way around. In the current setup I easily delete all notifications as I often toggle the opening and closing of the quick action toggles. It makes sense to have this button close to the Edge of the screen in tablet mode. I've lost count how many times I keep pressing "delete all notifications". A wrong change on Microsoft's part. Still can't get used to this and makes no sense from a real world usability standpoint.
    - I hardly use the side bar in the start menu in full screen tablet mode. I wish this could be hidden, just like the taskbar. Trade in the extra screenspace for more room for the live tiles.
    -coming from windows phone I sorely miss more customization options of the individual live tiles. Color and transparency and the option to have one single full screen dashboard to pin tiles instead of the more heavily second layer organization with "groups". It feels inconsitent in design. -I agree with the general conclusion that windows 10 is an inconsistent OS in terms of design and UI. I still love the metro design though. I'm not to fond yet of the fluent design. Many icons still feel loosely related to each other. I think metro is different and it looks and feels more like a consistent design package that fits together. The share button for example is something I still have to think about twice. It looks like a symbol symbolizing exporting or downloading/uploading than sharing. The metro with 3 dots and 3 lines in a circle has more meaning of sharing to me.
    -I still hate that many action buttons are at the top. I think Microsoft had it right to have the navigation of apps bar at the bottom. Even Samsung understands it now with their one UI. I think the experience is not much different in modern pcs, especially the browser.
  • 👍👍EXACTLY! Everything you wrote here I can not unsee either! Especially this action center weird bug that makes me mad. 😆 These little things really makes the experience feel unfinished, unprofessional. Details matters and MS should realize it. But I stopped believing it. They just make something always in some halfbaked state and say ,,OK, good enough". But they have so much potential. Also Reveal highlight stays in pressed state many times. Especially on folders in Start menu. And I would really like to have optionable level of the Acrylic. It's too much. With many wallpapers Start, Taskbar and Action center looks like non transparent.
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  • I don't know if this really counts as UI but can they please get rid of the auto log-in of the last user when you turn the machine on. I get that you really really want us to use microsoft id's or just a local account with a password but some people don't want them. I've got a password on my admin account but not for my kids. They are on accounts that have almost no privileges, they cant install or anything serious without my putting in my password. Please let me make it so when I turn on the computer I don't have to wait for it to log them in and then me log them back out before I can log myself in. Does it take long? No. But its an annoyance and users have been complaining about it for years with no comment from MS.
  • Last, but certainly not least, is a thing that I'm almost certain few have noticed and fewer still will care about, but the System Tray overflow