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Hands-on with Windows 10 build 20161 showcasing the new Start menu

W10 Start
W10 Start (Image credit: Windows Central)

Yesterday, Microsoft released a new build of Windows 10 that includes an updated Start menu design with translucent Live Tiles, improvements to Notifications, and behavior changes to things like Tablet Mode and the Taskbar. It's been a while since Microsoft released a build with any surface-level changes, but now it's finally happened, we're back showcasing all the changes on video.

The new Start menu is just the beginning of some of the UI changes Microsoft is planning to make to Windows 10. It's not a huge change, but it makes all the difference. In the past, the Start menu was a messy looking UI, but with these changes, the Start menu Live Tile interface looks uniform and minimalist.

Now, not every app abides by these new translucent designs, but most of Microsoft's in-box apps do. Over time, this will improve. It's pre-release right now, and honestly a great first look at the work Microsoft is doing to Start. Notifications are also receiving a minor UI update, with an X for dismissing notifications instead of an arrow.

Microsoft is also experimenting with different Taskbar layouts when settings up a PC for the first time, depending on whether your Microsoft Account has an Android phone or Xbox LIVE account linked to it. If it does, you might see the Your Phone or Xbox app pinned to the taskbar by default.

Make sure you check the video out for all the biggest changes and let us know in the comments what you think!

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.

41 Comments
  • Curiously, notifications did originally have an X before they changed it to an arrow.
    Also, the new 2-in-1 mode was backported to 19041.329. Not sure why I've never seen a mention of that anywhere.
    Everything regarding the start menu looks much better now. Hopefully they will finally update the few remaining app icons now (Store and Sticky Notes).
  • Thanks. Good to know some are already available in v2004.
  • One desktop has the translucent tiles, this one does not.
  • for the "live tiles are dead" crowd, this is a nice solution that still allows app to utilize them where they see fit, but those that don't won't look out of place.
  • I can't express how relieved I am that they seem to be continuing with Live tiles. I was quite worried they would abandon it just like any other thing that does not immediately achieve instant massive 'success' at MS these days. I hope they just keep iterating on the Live tiles concept, all aesthetic improvements are welcome of course.
  • Live Tiles are a decade old and 5 years old in Windows 10. You're expecting after 10 years them to achieve 'instant massive 'success'' are you? How many people out of the niche use them, not many. Good idea but in reality they just make the Start Menu look a mess because few customise it.
  • But live tiles can be removed. I don't understand why people complain all the time about this. You can simply REMOVE ALL the live tiles, and have your start list with the speed dial letters. The point is, it can accommodate BOTH use cases - those that find it really useful like myself, and those that find it 'offensive'/messy. Just remove the tiles if you don't want them, why deny the others a feature they find useful? My point about 'instant massive success' is the fact that live tiles never gained the traction/popularity MS probably hoped for, which may be a major metric of success. Obviously, it can easily be placed on the chopping block because of this, and rumors have been circulating that it was the case. But I find it useful everyday (and probably 'few' others), so I'm just relieved they are at least keeping them around for now.
  • Years ago I had direct conversations with Microsoft and warned them about their tiles. Squares simply aren't attractive, we aren't wired that way as humans to like that specific shape. If you had a choice, would you choose the square girl or the girl with normal shape? There are some very basic reasons why the tile approach fails, but MS ignored human sexuality in their designs!
  • I don't know what you're talking about. I've always found squares extremely sexy. Curves are nice but I love some pointy edges too. But then I guess I swing both ways.
  • 'Squares simply aren't attractive. We aren't wired that way ' Actually, squares ARE attractive, especially compared to those squirkle abominations, and yes, we ARE wired to seek the square shape. Look around your home. Look AT your home. Right angles are the norm!
  • They aren't just squares. You can resize them. Which, depending on the tile, makes the much more useful. Sadly, they nor third party devs are doing enough to exploit what Live Tiles COULD do. Some of you whine about widgets. Live Tiles SHOULD become what widgets do, while maintaining a much more consistent and, in my opinion, more attractive aesthetic in the process.
  • I hope that we're still able to create custom tiles.
  • iOS14 is the best thing that could ever have happened to Windows 10.
  • how can I turn it on?, I've still old icons
  • Nice video Zac, it's good to finally see much-needed some UI improvements to the OS. As someone who doesn't like live tiles (except on the very early small-screened Windows Phones), I still see issues with wasted space on the start menu because there's a lot of padding in tiles that are just launch icons, but even so this is a huge improvement visually and I like it a lot. I haven't been this tempted to run a non-release build in a while. Has anyone tried this build on latest Microsoft devices like the SP7 and SL3. They can't run 2004 because of a critical bug which has been fixed, wondering if the fix is in this build too.
  • why are they going back to an X for the notification? The whole point of switching to the arrow (from the X originally) is that Microsoft won't put an option to completely dismiss the notification, and the arrow tells you it's going to the notification center. They changed it because people thought the X got rid of the notification (like it logically should, and like you can do on every other OS). So why would they go back? Since it clearly says that it doesn't dismiss the notification, it just pushes it to the notification panel.
  • Agreed. I wish I could dismiss them, it's a waste of time having to clear them from Action Centre too.
  • I agree, why not simply have both an arrow and an X?
  • Exactly. The notification should display for a few seconds then hide move itself to the notification center. But if the user clicks X before that, it's clear that they've read the notification and don't want to keep it. The icon was correct all along but the behaviour is incorrect. And in typical Windows 10 UI style, they tried to fix it by working around the problem with a different icon. There seems to be a constant fight inside Microsoft between people who know what they're doing with UI and another group that don't.
  • Its a start... Needs more customization features.
  • The start menu change must be an A/B test or something because like a few others in these comments, I'm definitely on the right build but I still have the old jumbled version.
  • Same here. Only reason I updated so quickly is for the start menu. Live tiles are played out for me. I personally think they should go to icons that match 10x and get rid of the tiles, but this change does look cleaner and moreoden than tiles do normally right now
  • I still don't get the A/B test is for. Because the other group of people who didn't get it will not provide any feedback since it didn't change any experience from them. The only point I see here is to reduce the amount of people giving feedbacks.
  • I'm not happy with the progress Microsoft is making. The live tiles is a step in the right direction and conforms more to what the start menu should have been 5 years ago. We already know this design from 10 mobile, and it's great. Would be even better if the end user had control over control of transparency and image inside or outside the live tiles just like 10 mobile.
    I disagree we will likely to see other apps conform to transparency. Microsoft never managed this on 10 mobile, unless they hardcode this in software as standard for all developers. The traction globally is too small to sail on faith in developers on this matter. Frankly outside enthousiast I think most developers have no idea what we're talking about with regard to consistency in app live tiles in windows. Many, I think, will be familiar with the desktop. To make this truly matter Microsoft will have to decide on a higher level to prioritise the start menu and live tiles as a differentiating relevant feature in windows 10. I've used the start menu and tiles for years and have found the the task bar and desktop to be redundant in windows 10. Live tiles makes sense but feature and personalization needs a serious update. I've tried expanded functionality with live tile launchers on android, and it's shockingly miles ahead of where Microsoft should really be with the start menu and tiles. But I don't see it happening on Windows. I think modern will be the way on Windows and remain a messy hybrid of legacy and modern in an identity crisis.
  • They should simply implement Android's Launcher 10 and problem solved for everyone.
  • "I've used the start menu and tiles for years and have found the the task bar and desktop to be redundant in windows 10." Hmm. I am exactly the opposite. I have used the Quick Launch toolbar for 20 years (since Windows 2000) and never use the start menu. I find the start menu and dead tiles to be redundant and totally useless. So, whatever is "new and improved" in the start menu, I don't care. I never use it.
  • Why isn't my PC Settings Home Page showing my name/user picture/My Microsoft account info at the top, like Zach's was, in this video? I just sold an Alienware laptop, which was on Windows version 1909, and it showed that info on my PC Settings Home Page. But, my new Lenovo ThinkPad P71, which is on the same 1909 build of Windows, doesn't show that stuff (I like the way that looks). The only difference I can think of is the ThinkPad came with Windows Professional, and the Alienware had originally come with Home, which I had upgraded to Professional (it was running Professional when it showed that info in PC Settings). I wonder if that has anything to do with it? The May, 2020 (2004) isn't available yet for my ThinkPad; I finally just got a notice tonight that it'll be available soon for my laptop.
  • Same question: I have it in Surface Pro X, but not in Surface Laptop 3 and Huawei Matebook X Pro. In fact Surface Laptop 3 has Windows Professional whereas SPX Windows Home, I have to ceck for Huawei.
  • For whatever inexplicable reason, they are still A/B (or rather A/B-Z) testing this feature after what I think is way over a year already.
  • A couple of months ago I spoke with MS Support about this because my granddaughter has that info at the top of her settings home page and I don't. It seems to be random. Even the tech I was speaking with didn't have it. For me, would be nice to have, but not a game changer.
  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A2LTPYdw5gY I just made a concept of how they could improve the start menu even more!
  • Does this new Start menu still have tile groups or folders? I really hope so. For example, I have all my office, multimedia, social media, and game apps organized together in Start menu folders. Also, changing the notification dismissal icon from an arrow (which shows what it actually does) to an X which incorrectly implies its being closed, makes no sense at all
  • Yes it does have tile groups, and you can still pin folders to it.
    And I agree on that "X" part, like why...unless they are changing that too.
  • Likely this is retro for nostalgia. Those that were around for PocketPC/Windows Mobile likely recall some of the heated discussions about the X at the top of applications which backgrounded the app, rather than closed it.
  • To everyone who hasn't been able to get this feature to work, you can do so by going into the registry editor at HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced, then double click on "IconsOnly" and change the value from 0 to 1. Then, open the File Explorer, open Task Manager, select File Explorer and click on Restart in the bottom right-hand corner (or you can restart your PC, but I guess that restarting the whole OS takes more time).
    And you're done! Enjoy your new start menu.
  • why does your settings menu look different to mine?
    yours has name, and account, and windows updates status
    how is this possible?
  • The account name, one drive and windows update status in my setting disappeared after l upgraded to the new version of Windows 10 (2004).
    How do l get them back?
  • It's not up to you.
  • More importantly, if I have it, how do I get rid of it?
  • Off topic, sorry guys for asking, but where can i find the presentetion wallpaper?
  • What if your perfectly working start menu decided not to all of the sudden and now says critical error?