The creator of the first Start menu thinks it's 'a little disappointing' it's still used in Windows 10

Danny Oran, who holds the patent on the original Start menu and taskbar design for Windows 95, stated in a new interview that he has mixed feelings about a version of his creation being used once again in Microsoft's Windows 10. He stated, "In some ways, it's a little disappointing the same stuff is in there,"

Oran spoke to Business Insider about how he created the original Start menu but also gave his thoughts on Microsoft adding a new version of it back again in Windows 10.

"He only watches Microsoft from the outside, and he hasn't gotten his hands on Windows 10 just yet. Still, those mixed feelings remain: Windows 8 had its ups and downs, he says, but at least it tried something new besides a Start menu he invented decades prior."

Oran only worked at Microsoft from 1992 to 1994, but he arguably had a massive influence on the Windows team when he was charged with coming up with a better way to interact with the OS. His solution was to create one button that led Windows 95 users to everything.

"Originally, Oran says, it was called the "System" button, and it lived at the top of the screen. But for whatever reason, maybe because it sounded too technical, users in these Windows studies wouldn't click a System button no matter what. But once they renamed it the "Start" button, people understood it intuitively."

Source: Business Insider

219 Comments
  • Cool
  • I can honestly agree with this guy because you'd think Microsoft would do something more unique by now as far as the functionality of the start menu. Of course, Windows 8 was unique, but in a bad way.
  • I like win8.1 though, but the crowds are just to lazy to adjust to new things.
  • When apple changes things its innovation when other companies change its bullshit. People accepted the tiles in start menu but they hate start screen which shows all apps and also notofications
  • That's because by nature, people are stupid. Apple creates buggy software and people live with it. Look at Apple Watch and Apple Music. The two most buggiest products (software and hardware) and people are like "Ya this sh!t's cool yo. <3 Apple".
  • The first sentence, absolutely true- which could explain the rest of your post. Apple Watch and Music could redefine the word "fluid" compared to many other devices and softwares. BTW, it took me literally 5 minutes to type this, thanks to Windows 10 and the Edge browser on my Surface Pro 3 (which I do love though).
  • Interesting. At least you have nifty live tiles now. I can't really imagine how you can improve something like the Win10 start menu. It is the perfect amalgam of pretty and useful.
  • But the thing is, Apple doesn't change, they only take ideas that have been around for a couple years lol
  • The start screen didn't show everything.  For that you had to delve into the mess of icons for every stupid little start menu entry a program would create and it was simply a nightmare. Fine if you only had 3-4 main apps, but utterly awful for almost every other use scenario, and the masses rightly rejected it.  
  • The Start menu doesn't show everything either. Unless you bothered to rearrange the location of the icons, you could end up digging through endless folders trying to find the app you're looking for. How is that any better than the Start Screen on Windows 8.1?
  • ^THIS. The start screen was a wall of icons quite similar to a wall of icons everyone liked to keep on their desktop 10-20 years ago. It was definitely a step backwards in terms of being able to organise information in a logical manner.
  • @Zybch Duh! As a user you get to choose what you want on the Start Screen. Even in Windows 7, not EVERY program I have shows on the Desktop, I get to choose what I want on my desktop. Delve into a mess of icons... you mean the ones that are alphabetically lined up? Ok, if that was to hard to go through, then Yes, Windows 8 would be to hard to figure out.
  • In Win8 I installed a program call LabView.  Its used in engineering and test instrumentation a lot.  It literally has 100's of programs it installs and every frick'n of them ended up on my Win8 start screen.  In Win8 I had no choice in this.  Took me forever to remove them all.  The old start button handled and organized engineering tools much better and I'm glad to have it back in Win10.   Best thing I ever purchased for Win8 was Start8 from StarDock.  It gave me the start button back on the desk top.    
  • It wasn't just an adjustment, it was jarring.  I used Windows 8/8.1 more than 8 hours a day since launch, and I never got used to the the Start Screen blanking my entire desktop. Live Tiles just don't offer much of anything once you have a notification center, so it's best to relegate them to the one or two places they're actually useful (maybe a Weather tile and...well, just a weather tile, actually). Now, if MS had done something useful with Live Tiles, like made them functional widgets so that users could do things like control their music from the music-player's tile, that'd have been great.  But they never did.  And so, they were (rightfully) rejected. Furthermore, it seems unlikely to me that there will be much uptick in the use of "store" apps in Windows 10.  Why would anyone develop those when they can target the desktop and get much more functionality.  So, MS should enable desktop apps to do cool things with their tiles.
  • Are you talking about live interactive tiles? I hope MS releases them in Redstone update.
  • Sigh.
  • *Too lazy to do things less efficiently. There fixed it for you
  • Fyi, i learned it. It was nice. Still prefer the start menu. But I lived with the tiles and accepted them.
  • I like windows 8.1 and still use it. Just upgraded win 7 to 10.
  • Well that what happens when people bitched and stayed on Windows 7 And don't want to try something new.
  • They'd have tried it if it had been a positive step forwards, but it turned the whole UI into a disgusting fisher price mess that offered less utility than previous UIs and very little actual benefit other than live tiles which most apps didn't use anyway.
  • A lot of people DID try something new... and found out it sucked. It's not surprising they wanted to stay with an interface that was more functional. It wasn't about 'people just didn't learn how to use it'. When something is an improvement, even a drastic change is embraced because people try it and can quickly see how much better it is. W8 was not an improvement to anything but tablet use. A lot of people still interact with their PC using the mouse and keyboard, and in that environment Windows 7 was far superior to Windows 8. Windows 8/8.1 is nice on a tablet, but that's it. I have it, I learned to use it, and I definitely prefer it if i'm using a tablet. But when I am at a desk, I prefer the W7 interface.
  • Hopefully you'll love the Windows 10 UI.  Takes the best bits from 7 and 8 and fixes so much that was wrong with 8.
  • Nope. Windows 7 was so wrong and rubbish. 8 fixed all the stupidities of 7. 10 just messed it up again. 10 is the pile of nonsense.
  • They sort of did innovate, but only apple is allowed to these days with there "retina" (hd) screens and "digital crown" (turny knob)
  • Well w8 felt so much like 3.1
  • WTH are you even talking about? They tried something new and it almost killed the platform. As well, the current start menu is more unique than 95-7. Was 8/8.1 perfect? No, but no software is in its first iteration. That is the beauty of software, it can get better. But it can only get better if people buy it to allow it to grow.  
  • Except for the fact the Start Screen basically being a fullscreen Start Menu.
  • All the Win10 Start menu consists of is the Win8 Start menu and the "All Apps" list, crammed into a small space. At best, it is a bandage to quell the mad ramblings of those that can't handle change. There was nothing wrong with the Win8 Start screen - it worked, it was refreshing, and it made sense. The Win10 Start menu is the security blanket of the technically inept. It provides no useful change from the Win8 Start screen, it only springs forth from a button in the task bar instead of using the whole screen - apparently frivolous animation is what users value.
  • And yet its STILL less useful than windows 7's start menu.
  • How? Seriously? What are you missing?
  • it's exactly the same, just looks a little different. Instead of aero you have flat design, otherwise it's exactly the same.
  • You say that 8/8.1 were great an innovative but have you tried using Word, a pdf file, calculator and the browser to write a paper? Why would it be logical to stretch the tiny calculator on the whole screen? That has no place on a desktop/laptop
  • None of that ever went away. You have full desktop capabilities...
  • @UberToast_XBL
    ^THIS! Absolutely nailed it! Its funny how people didn't even remember or know that to look for their favorite programs/apps/system settings; all one had to do was start typing down the name of a program and Windows 8/8.1 would start finding it. No need to even select the settings charm. Though I agree that the whole "full screen" app view was jarring, almost everything else was better than Win.7 IMHO.
  • They DID try something new and people wouldn't shut up about how awful it was. It wasn't awful at all. People just didn't want it because people, overall, hate change. They added it back with a little more flair and if you really did like the start screen, you can have that too if you want.
  • Or maybe it was just shitter in almost every possible way (except only live-tiles)
  • We might agree with him, but the truth is that the public didn't react well to the absence of the start menu.  Instead they screamed that they wanted it back (not that they wanted something better even if different.) That is a really tough spot to be in when you try to give the users what they want, because they learned forcing a change won't be welcomed unless everyone (or majority) agrees that it was a good change.  I think their best option would be to create an alternative to START MENU but not make it default. Allow users to enable it (and disable the start menu) so that it starts to get traction, get feedback until they have a ready for public feature.  Live tiles have it's perks, especialy for touch environments, start menu has it's perks for keyboard/mouse users but to come up with a new system that replaces both, is intuitive and is highly functional is challenging enough that obviously if it was so easy -- they would have already done it. (/end rambling)
  • Well, thats your opinion and I respect that. However, Windows 8.1 is and will be one of the best OS Microsoft ever made. I see nothing wrong with Windows 8.1. Start screen in Windows 8.1?? :- It was just a full screen start menu for me ;) I'm on Windows 10 and missing the OneDrive Sync :(
  • I hate that OneDrive placeholders are gone.I enjoy most changes. That one is ridiculous.
  • Do you understand the reason its happening though? Each placeholder took up space, on small memory devices (read tablets) with a lot of files on OneDrive - the placeholders would fill up the memory. This is becoming more of an issue as OneDrive is going to give unlimited space (from what I have read) so you could have tens of millions of placeholders but not enough storage to store the databse holding the placeholders
  • Yes I ubderstand why, But give us the option to choose. To not be able to save to a folder makes onedrive almost worthless to me. I have to save to my machine then go to the website to upload? That is ridiculous. - Also, what is the lesser of two evils? The small placeholder or the actual file.
  • You don't need to sync photos and music, groove and the photo apps can read them online if that's help. They only changed the way onedrive works and for a lot of things it's quite smart. I hope that words will be able to read documents online too without sync.
  • I agree with him.  windows 8 was awsome.  Once you got your brian around using the corners to navigate.   It was easy, and worked great.  But people whined and complained about it being different.  Therefore we are back to the windows 95, start menu etc we have now.  And the poeple rejoice.
  • Windows 8.1 is fine but bogged down slightly by the seemingly never ending array of wannabe designers who never actually used it drumming un unsubstantiated parotting comments about things like the start button.  
  • Everyone wants change but when they get it they don't want to change. There was nothing wrong with Windows 8 except for confused idiots not willing to learn something new. Please tell me what was so bad about it?
  • But if it makes consumers happy then what's the problem?? People are never happy if they haven't got something to moan about
  • The nice thing is it doesn't say start anymore, now it's just an awesome windows logo that matches up perfectly with the one on your keyboard.
  • In fairness: It hasn't said "Start" since XP. Vista and 7 both featured Start buttons that were Windows logos.
  • Windows XP still have a Start word on it. Only starting Vista where only Windows logo became a trend.
  • But when you click on it in 8.1 and 8 it said start at the top left
  • That was start menu not start screen.
  • Coolll
  • The beauty of desktop operating systems is that the start menu's can be put on bottom, on the left, on top or on the right. It just depends on how you like it, I've seen Linux puts it on left, but in the end is the same thing. I wished this inventor was more positive about his invention, he changed the way we interact with computers.
  • He loved his original invention, he is just disappointed we still use it. Since there isnt a need anymore.
  • I agree, he definitely proud with his invention (why he can't be?). He is just disappointed that the fact after all these years, its basically the same thing, a menu. He seems like the Start screen but he also knows its issues, but like he said at least it did innovate something from his original invention. It's interesting what actually he can come up if he's in charge.
  • He was disappointed because it should have been evolved to something more advance and more modern as the technology advances, but because there more poeple who can not embrace change and want to have "START" menu for the rest of their lives, Microsoft brought it back even though it was decades old. Microsoft is just giving-in to what majority wants. I have grown out from the START menu, and I have conveniently navigated Windows 8 and 8.1 without issues. Now on Windows 10, I am more excited of the other features than the START menu.
  • Yeah, that's what I'm thinking too. Though I understand the intuitiveness of traditional Start menu, but aren't restricting ourselves not to give a chance for something more than that? Well Windows 8 Start screen innovative as it is, but I know its issues and there are some big issues. In Windows 8.1 especially with Update 1, it was getting there actually and I think (at least for me and some people I know) works perfectly. Windows 10 Start menu isn't bad, its there for people who are too comfortable with traditional menu, but even with that aside from Live Tiles and slightly improved All Apps, I think it could be more than that. This is why I'm thinking that Interactive Live Tiles should come into play, which didn't make it at launch. That's what I'm excited ever since. Start screen in Windows 10 is OK, but its disappointing that they removed some features that actually useful like: Sorting Options, Semantic Zoom (hey this works even for mouse too), Swipe to open All Apps (useful for tablets and with supported touchpad gestures), All Apps grid (Make sense for Start screen), and its multi-monitor friendly, where it stays on screen even you do something else on the other monitor. Great use of Live Tiles, unlike in Windows 10 were it closes becuase its just a freaking full-screen menu. I remember that during the first introduction of Start screen, I was thinking if it will evolve into something it replaces desktop in a sense where you pin apps and files (not actually replacing desktop where windows float). Start screen will evolve into a window management of multi-desktops and windows (similar to Task View now). That reminds me of Gnome 3 Activities screen. http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-FXohlYRiqDc/VRK-oRHFDSI/AAAAAAAAV7I/YW6JS6xICqY/s1600/gnome316-themeupdates_2.png Well good thing that we have Task View in Windows 10 now. I'm now actually thinking if Start will totally combine with Cortana cards in future updates of Windows 10. Currently they're actually seperate, make sense since Cortana isn't available for everybody yet and still needs to improve further to actually help us on our computing task deeper. Charms also may comeback in another form somtime in the future, where (I hope) Universal Apps is everywhere and Win32 shares API from Universal Apps, making it Hybrid of UAP and Win32.
  • Try doing Tha in tablet mode and see how far you get.
  • Aren't we all? (disappointed)
  • Unfortunately "we" are a small number of bright people who saw and appreciated where Microsoft was going with Windows 8, the rest 90 percent wanted a new OS but keep everything the same like Apple does.
  • This 100X over. I would love to see innovation...but people just don't like change.
  • People are fine with change if it is logical and of benefit to them.  8 was one idiot's (sinofsky) force feeding of a dreadful UI rammed down user's throats that offered a steaming pile of unwiueldy mess that had no benefits other than the few and far between live tiles which most apps still don't use. It was absolutely appropriate on phones and small tablets, but totally unsuited for pretty much everything else that was on the market up to and including now.
  • Agree, W8 was logical only for mobile devices with touch screen and it should have been what tablet mode is now for W10 and have a desktop version as well
  • Disagree. The Start screen actually works far better with mouse and keyboard than the old "put everything in a list" Start menu. It is based on the truth that a grid is more efficient to navigate than a list. Consider a list of twenty vs a grid of 4x5. To get to the bottom of the list, using a keyboard you have to navigate over nineteen items. For a grid, you have to navigate over a maximum of 8. A mouse is even worse, since you can move diagonally: five vs nineteen. Sure it's full screen, which would mean something if mice didn't have two very different modes which I call: precision and movement. The start menu required precision. It was relatively small and required precision movements to a small target. The start screen very rarely required precision. You could zoom around the screen to the large tile targets and hit them 99% of the time. It really didn't make it worse for either mouse or keyboard to have a full screen Start menu that was a grid instead of an inefficient list, but people hated it because it was different. And don't get me started on people who still navigate through the mess that is the All Programs folder list instead of just doing a quick search...
  • This is the first proper logical argument I have seen for the advantages of the tiles over the menu for selecting an application. I AM one of those people who navigate through "All Programs", in fact I would like that to be the default top level for start menu (or whatever replaces it). For some use cases the tiles may be the best answer, but for me and many professionals it is worse for the following reasons: I use the computer for work. Our company designs electronic hardware and software. We use literally hundreds of applications. This is not uncommon in technical environments. I need to find the right application quickly. My "All programs" menu is neat and has a few very commonly used programs and a few folders. In my case these folders are "Hardware Dev Tools" "Software Dev Tools" "Mechanical Dev Tools" "Utilities" "MultiMedia" Lets say I want to open a Circuit Board design. I go to "Hardware Dev Tools" where I select the CAD suite that I want to use, then the program. Menu->Submenu->App, simple quick and I have selected from a very large number of apps in a logical way. "Ah" you say, "why not just type the first letters of the app?" " Good question, there are 2 reasons. First, if I start typing LAYOUT... I get lots of hits. I still have to go down the list looking for the right one. Secondly, lets say I have created my PCB design files but I need to check if they look correct before finalizing the release. Now what's the name of the app that does that? I only use it from time to time. It not Layout... or PCB... or View.. or anything that springs to mind. Can't remember what the Icon looks like either. Well on my system its easy. Its a hardware design tool so I select "Hardware Dev Tools"-> and I see sub-menus including "MentorGraphics Layout" and "File Viewers". I select "File Viewers". In the small list of apps I see "GCPrevue". Now I remember! It is often the case that I want to select a tool for a particular job, and with a hierarchical menu system it is easy to find  for example, all the image editing software on the computer. I know you can group tiles, but that is only one level and its not a patch on the menu system for serious professional use. So why can't we have both. Microsoft seem obsessed with imposing some particular solution on users. I would not mean having two complete separate developments for different interfaces and double the effort for developers. The start menu is merely a way of launching programs. Each one has a name and could have a tile object associated with it. Why not let the user choose to have fully customizable menus, tiles or a mixture.  
  • We are indeed.
  • Yes. Very. :(
  • No Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Am I the only one who is using windows from 95' ?
  • Hope so.
  • It would at least make sense
  • You are not alone.... Some computers in my school still run in Windows 95 & 98
  • Too bad.  They're most certainly infected or compromised.
  • I did a Win98 install a couple of months ago.  The client's business software just wouldn't run reliably on anything more recent. Never connects to the net though (no wifi or LAN socket) so hopefully they're pretty safe. Brought back lots of memories, good and bad.  Mostly bad.
  • Heck no, I had windows 1.1on one of my machines side loaded to a dos. Dos good old days lol.
  • No, I used Windows since 3.10. This sums it up: DOS 6.20 + Windows 3.10 > Windows 95A > Windows 95 B (skipped the C version) > Windows 98 > Windows 98 Special Edition > Windows Millennium Edition* > Windows 2000 Professional > Never installed XP > Enjoyed and sometimes hated Windows Vista > skipped Windows 7 > Liked Windows 8 > Enjoyed Windows 8.1 > Windows 10 is awesome (I'm also an Insider).   * = (Me! was one of my favourites! Yes, we have 7 billion people on this planet and there were maybe 5 people who loved that OS and I was one of them, LOL)
  • ME ran either magically well on your machine or it destroyed your machine... There was no in-between and unfortunately most people had the destroy version. It could even change between installs on the same computer as I had a magical one for a while, reformatted and went to destroy.
  • Yep, it could be magnificent and much of the media and UI capabilities XP took and ran with were first introduced in Me.  But it was also the start of the dumbing down and cutesifying of the UI.  Using it was like walking through the inside of a jagged marshmallow that kept crashing.
  • Skipped Windows 7? Wow... that was the best OS!
  • Sorry mate. 7 was the worst right up there with 2000 and XP. Top 3 of the shit pile of OS
  • Dude, you must be seriously drunk. XP was considered the best OS since Win 98. Many people used XP for almost 8-9 years, switching from their beloved OS only to go to W7 which was the single most amazing OS we'd had for the past 15 years. Seriously, there was nothing wrong with it at all.
  • He just loves Win 8 so much, any/everything else is stupid, and anyone that likes anything else is more stupid. It's best to let him be. Some people don't realize that there are other people in the world, and not all of them will care for your opinion.
  • Yeah, you're right - his other comments show that he's quite deluded and/or naive to the world before Windows 8.
  • I loved Windows