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Hands-on with the new Start menu in Windows 10 build 18947

Microsoft accidentally outed an internal Windows 10 build via the Insider program today, and it came with quite the surprise. The Start menu experience in the leaked build has been completely revamped, offering an early look at a feature not quite meant for the public just yet.

The biggest change here is that Live Tiles are gone from the Start menu. In their place, there's now a grid of app icons and labels. It looks a little rough, but that's to be expected with something not necessarily meant for public eyes. It's also unclear if this experience will make its way to Windows 10 in general.

In any case, you can take a quick walkthrough the new Start menu experience in our hands-on video above. And let us know what you think of it in the comments.

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Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the Editor in Chief for Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl. Got a hot tip? Send it to daniel.thorp-lancaster@futurenet.com.

57 Comments
  • Without live tiles we might as well be using Windows 7 again
  • Nobody was using Live Tiles in the first place. There was an article recently about how user engagement was extremely low for Live Tiles on W10.
  • I'm so sick of people using "nobody" and "everyone". Neither are typically accurate. Many, many of us use and prefer the tiles. I have very specific opinions of people who don't...that don't bear sharing in polite company.
  • I'm with Scuba. To say nobody uses them is crap and doesn't speak for the whole community of people using windows 10. I personally use tiles and I like it a lot. :) So the person that say no one uses them is incorrect. Perhaps he doesn't use live tiles. Does not mean nobody does not.
  • I don't even use the start menu dude lmao
  • Honestly, Im even to the point of not caring anymore. I really only hit the windows button to type my app. WP dying killed Live Tiles. How about give us the option, hell turn them off by default.
  • I've seen the numbers, and "not enough people" is the correct terminology to use when referring to how many people actually use live tiles on Windows 10.
  • How to they determine who uses them? Is it by who clicks on them? Part of the allure of the Live Tiles is that I can see the weather at a glance, without ever opening the app? Other apps are very similar. Sports scores, top news, calendar events, etc. This was especially true on Windows 10 Mobile. It allowed me to "use" my phone and apps less because I got the information I needed at a glance.
  • Time with the start menu open and not being clicked?
  • But you don't click a live tile; that's the whole point with them!?!
  • Exactly! I love the live tiles precisely because they are glanceble.
  • Trotting out the argument that secret telemetry figures justify the removal of a feature that some people clearly are still using is the very epitome of the phrase "lies, damn lies, and statistics."
  • Why would they lie about that? What do they have to gain by removing a popular feature?
  • Well, that's just the problem isn't it. They claim live tiles aren't popular (enough), but since they won't publish the numbers they use to justify this claim, it can't be independently verified. They could decide to get rid of a feature for whatever reason they like (regardless of how popular it is) and invent any old numbers to "justify" the decision.
  • Again, why would they do that for a popular feature? If I get your argument right, you think Microsoft is actively trying to upset it's user base? That makes no sense!
  • Who knows why Microsoft has decided to hate on Live Tiles because, AFAIK, they have refused to publicly explain their thinking on this matter. For all I know, TPTB inside Microsoft hate live tiles because they are too great a reminder of one of their biggest failures. If they're going to use telemetry to backup their arguments then show us the numbers and explain the methodology (e.g. what the hell does "use live tiles" mean when you say not enough people do).
  • Zac, that's because clicking on a start menu button to see glanceable information is counter intuitive. How many people do you know that press let alone use the windows key? If they had a setting in the out box wizard that had to be switched on to go straight to desktop, you would see a larger spike in the telemetry numbers for live tile usage. My point is that many users don't really change or fiddle around with the settings at all other than to install a few applications + several dozen toolbars here and there lol. I do use live tiles, admittedly it's sparingly on the desktop as I use my L950 XL to look at the live tiles of my email accounts which is quicker - as I can be mobile, work and make phone calls at the same time. If I could pin some live tiles to the side of my screen, that would make a huge difference as on a 40 inch tv, many websites have an A4 paper sized width of white space on both sides. Therefore if Microsoft added an ability to have live tiles overlay and a static place for those who want that option, this would make use of the wasted screen space whilst boosting live tile usage.
  • If they made Live Tiles useful, that would increase useage. Instead, they haven't been updated since WP7. Widgets are far more useful, and even they aren't very popular. Microsoft at least needs to allow them to have buttons and some interactivity. At least let music apps (if there are any left) put music controls on them. That is basically the only thing widgets are used for. Your tablet mode as default idea is exactly what people hated about Windows 8.
  • totally agree, add me, +1
  • I referenced the data Microsoft claims to have. Live Tiles are just not popular, and I think it is obvious why. They are nearly useless. Small bits of random information with no interactivity has very little reason to exist in the vast majority of work flows, and Microsoft has the data to back that claim up.
  • Clearly I'm not nobody then
  • Excuse me, that is false. I use Live Tiles.
  • I referenced the data Microsoft collected. You know what I mean and Microsoft agrees.
  • I was not using livetiles. i AM using livetiles. So does everyone who is not stuck in the past. AND i do love livetiles, and i even have fake livetiles on my phone. Just icons is just a big waste of space.
  • Low and nobody are two different things.
  • Basically I agree. I LOVE Live Tiles!
  • I've been on Windows 10 since day 1 on desktop and tablet, and to be honest I've never seriously used Live Tiles for anything other than the weather app. First thing I usually do when I (re)install Windows 10 on any device is I turn off Live Tiles for all the apps. I've found that having content on the tile itself makes it difficult to find apps. For example if the Netflix app or the Spotify app are displaying a movie poster or album cover, it's difficult to tell what apps those tiles are for because my brain is looking for the iconography.
  • I'm with you. I remember what the tile looked like and the next time I am looking for that tile I can not find it because it has changed, and keeps changing. I like the tiles, but when the entire content changes, I have trouble finding them.
  • Your tiles are always in the same place (unless you move them).
  • I agree. I'm not opposed to this change... BUT... would like to see widgets return. They're in Android, heck they're in iPad OS now, so why not return to Windows. They can keep it simple. Just a few widgets are needed... Weather (obviously)... Calendar... To Do... and Photos. With those 4 desktop widgets I could care less what they did with Live Tiles in the start menu.
  • I hope they leave the classic view. For me, Live Tiles are very important.
  • I think it's possible they may be trying to mimic or recreate the MS Launcher experience from Android as a Start Menu interface. That's not necessarily a bad thing, especially when you consider the target form factor and use cases for hardware running Windows Lite.
  • They should do the other way arround. I love some of the launcher features like the timeline, but still on the home screen there is a serious lack of information provided on the start screen - or you make it look very messy with the different designs of widgets.
  • I just hope the "Classic" option stays. XE.com and Crypto Chart (and somewhat MSN News) are the only live tiles I find really useful.
  • My bank has something similar with all my balance infos - very useful. The applications we built show for examle the next order information, without opening it ... Anthing moving photos arround is not good, but showing real information instead of just a counter with there are 5 new items" are priceless.
  • This is beyond disgusting.
  • I wouldn't say its disgusting. Not like it farts at you and it smells..... It's just different... Thankfully its not going to be like the standard new start menu.
  • Wow, that's a huge step back.
    Start menu with tiles (even if half of them aren't Live) and W10M UI with transparent tiles have best aestetic than any onter OS for me.
    Year with MS Launcher, whicons still far from tiled start.
    I'd hope that they will leave tiles as they are now- with groups and folders, but if they shift to PWA then live tiles are doomed and we will have same dull icons with ugly looking overflowing titles.
  • Microsoft is going in reverse with Windows since Nadella took over. Hopefully their cloud business keeps doing well, his leadership is going to drive Windows into the ground.
  • I don't mind the current Live Tile Start Menu but I do know it's very difficult for basic computer users to organize it. Hell, sometimes I go to move something and it ends up in a folder I didn't mean to create, and then undoing that mistake is... challenging. As a former Apple-only user of 29 years, and only ever having used Windows 10, I have to say how appallingly lethargic Microsoft is at polishing this OS. It seems they live in a bubble, unaware of MacOS, Chrome, and better Linux distros... all of which are better polished thru and thru. They don't seem to grasp that, considering their marketshare, they should be the OS leader in the sense of polish. Instead it's this snail pace of a little something here maybe, a little something there eventually. I wonder if they even use Windows 10. If they did they might notice the MESS that is Windows Explorer.
  • They did a grand job with Windows 8 which felt polished as all hell and then Windows 10 came around and it all went down the drain.
    Even reorganizing Start, like you said as the beginning, is tedious as hell compared to its predecessors. It was NOT this much of a nuisance on WP7 when Tiles first released. Their interface has just been getting worse and worse, and shows no signs of stopping.
  • As a Windows user, I'm completely lost every time I'm forced to use a Mac; so many actions are "hidden" behind obscure gestures, and customization is a city in Russia. Not to mention the general aesthetics, which are pure 1990's...
  • When using a mouse, it's quite ok on MacOS. But it fails with the lack of touch - while iOS lacks the mouse in some cases. Linux lacks all input methods except terminal. Windows might not be the best in each of the areas Mouse - Touch - Terminal, but it does all 3 in an (mostly) consistent way well enough to outweight the advantages the different systems have.
  • People, this is specifically for windows lite. Stop catastrophizing please.
  • I don't think Live Tiles are "gone" exactly. Look at the three icons in the top left. The middle one looks like the Live Tiles icon that's currently in use when you turn off the app list in the start menu. Live tiles are probably just one toggle away. edit: nvm. It's shown in the video
  • To me live tiles are best used for Tablet mode for Windows 10- 2 in 1 devices like the beloved
    Surface Tablets & Surface books especially because you could easily read the changing data
    within them on these devices Tablet mode screens. I felt Microsoft should have by default have
    all tiles that have no data changing within them as small tiles and have the live tiles at the head
    of the columns when you look at the start menu in desktop or tablet mode but you can move
    them around if you set up the Start menu or Tablet mode screen for "User Custom mode" Also
    live tiles should be enabled to be on the Desktop. imagine have a weather live tile on your
    Desktop to give you info about weather condition especially floods, Tornadoes, or storms, A
    live tile, could be on your desktop to show you the condtions of the roads you use to get home.
    live tiles can show you if your home is on fire or being robbed and show you video from your
    home security cameras. live tiles can give info on national emergencies like big Earthquakes,
    Terrorists attacks ect It's sad Microsoft live tiles have not been used to do the wonderful things
    I just mentioned & more. I suggest that Microsoft keep them for Tablets and 2 in 1 devices &
    enable only live tiles on the New Windows "Lite" operating system devices" that really have
    data that changes inside them every other applications would be icons
  • I like it.
  • That looks hideous. Ill keep using Open-Shell-Menu until the team working on the start menu gets some sense.
  • I don't mind the tiles in the current Start Menu; I've worked along with it just fine, I was happy with the new Start Menu in Windows10, although I was not completely upset with the Start Menu in Windows 8.0. As for the new Start Menu, it's alright, seems like Microsoft is taking cues from the Windows95 Start Menu.
  • As long as it's optional, great!
  • This is all just a sneak peak at Windows Lite. In Windows 10 you will most likely still have the Live Tiles "classic" view for another decade or more. No worries. And actually... for Windows Lite I'm okay with just static tiles. Would like some widgets, for Weather, Clock, Calendar, To Do, and Photos, but static start tiles will be easier to maintain for MS, and work better with "Install this site as an app" in Edgium.
  • Microsoft eventually gets synonymity between mobile and PC by bringing Microsoft Launcher to the desktop...
  • Microsoft comes with a phone and make it works with tiles system or loose
    Anything else of Windows Version Update for correcting bugs with bugs
  • It's hard not be critical of this OS. So many questions. I don't think it's good Microsoft is building a new start menu experience, if this is their future vision.
  • I blame Apple for the dumbification of modern device use; Live Tiles are an incredible feature which save time, offer customisation to both the user and developer, and all round lead to more efficiency. Diverting to a wall of app icon I consider an insult to people's intelligence because who is saying we need to simplify things? What confuses me is the rationale for removing choice; if Live Tiles are too... much for you turn them off - would that not be enough or are developers really complaining at how 'difficult' they are to develop?
  • That is such a visual mess. Live tiles were clean and SO useful. The whole glanceable feature is gone replaced with a 'grid of icons' (which in my opinion is a terrible UI including on phones). And that ugly huge centrally placed user icon (I don't need to know who's logged in thanks, because I logged in!). Then a massive ugly search box at the top, I don't need the search box, it's something I remove from the taskbar, just hit Start and start typing. The Metro/Modern UI was so nice, so clean, so different to other tech companies. This is just a sheep following the herd and copying everyone else. Massive step backwards. Just staggering.
  • The other thing that Live Tiles enabled you to do was group and cluster tiles together with different sizes so visually they prioritised different apps. So I have a communication group which has large tiles for apps I use often then apps I use less frequently are smaller tiles. Grouping and sizing tiles makes visually navigating the start menu very fast. A scrolling grid of icons has none of these advantages, making you have to play 'hunt the icon'.