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How the new Windows 10 Start menu may help Windows phones succeed

The new live tile enhanced Start menu in Windows 10 not only consoles the Windows faithful who lamented its end in Windows 8/8.1. It may also be Microsoft's key to reaching the masses with its mobile dream.

Classical conditioning

Renowned psychologist Ivan Pavlov is famous for his work with classical conditioning. Through a series of experiments where he presented stimuli, such as ringing a bell, followed by the offering of food, Pavlov's dogs began to associate the stimuli with the food. This association was evidenced by the dogs beginning to salivate when they heard the bell, even when there was no food offered. They had been conditioned.

Starting Off

Anyone who has ever used a Windows PC knows how important the bottom left corner of the screen is. Since Windows 95 that corner is where we've gone when we wanted to make things happen. If you want to launch an app or do some other task, it all begins with 'Start.' Though there are options like the ability to pin things to the taskbar, our minds, like those of Pavlov's dogs, are conditioned for the bottom left corner where the Start button resides. And that's ok.

Microsoft trained hundreds of millions of us for nearly two decades to think that way. The Start menu became a familiar tool as we sat in front of our computers for hours at work or home. We constantly deferred there when we knew exactly what we wanted as well as when uncertainty crept into our workflow. Regardless of the results we always knew that it was at least a start. (Pun intended)

The frequency with which we engaged the menu made it profoundly familiar in its reliability, position, and presentation. Through repeated interaction, an image of the Start menu with its list of helpful apps and tools has been seared into the minds of 1.5 billion of us. We'd recognize it anywhere. If that familiar tool were slapped into another OS we'd feel right at home. We've been conditioned.

In 2012, Windows 8 took that all away. The long reign of the Start menu had ended.

Huh?

That's the response many people had when they first saw the Windows 8 Start screen.

"What are all those colorful rectangles, why are they moving and more importantly… where's my Start menu!?!"

Windows Phone fans immediately recognized the live tile dominated UI. It was a deliberate reflection of the Modern UI found on Microsoft's mobile OS. And of course, that was the point.

Steve Sinofsky, former president of Microsoft's Windows Division, committed the firm to a radical course. The goal was to use Windows to make the live tile Modern environment familiar to the 100s of millions of people who had never touched a Windows Phone. After all, if consumers began interacting with this new 'Modern' Start screen on the desktop, wouldn't the live tile environment on the phone be less jarring for the uninitiated? That was the hope. But this radical shift backfired. The industry cried foul.

When Microsoft capitulated (kind of) to industry demand and added the Start button in Windows 8.1 they added insult to injury for many users. This Start button didn't behave as we had been conditioned. It just bounced users between the desktop and modern environments. Consequently, when we instinctively deferred to the bottom left corner and clicked the Start button to make things happen, well, the menu didn't happen.

Training Days

Microsoft's intentions were commendable. After nearly 20 years of a Start menu, Microsoft had learned that users could be conditioned. Their hope was that they could use their Windows platform, which had an install base of 1.5 billion users, to condition the industry to embrace their mobile UI.

You see, with iOS and Android dominating the shift to mobile computing, Redmond tried to gain an industry foothold with a unique mobile UI which the market at large rejected. Microsoft's efforts at differentiation with a UI based on dynamic live tiles that deliver up live data was in stark contrast to the static icons found on iOS and Android. This was a double-edged sword, however. These live tiles were so unfamiliar to iOS and Android users that they were a barrier to Windows Phone's adoption.

Redmond is to be applauded for using its Windows platform to bolster its mobile efforts. It's radical implementation in Windows 8/8.1 however overshot the mark. With Windows 10, I believe Microsoft strikes a balance.

Windows 10 the 'Start' of a win-win

After nearly three years, the Start menu's back. And it is reassuringly familiar in its reliability, position, and presentation. Wrapped in the latest iteration of the Windows OS that familiar image Microsoft seared into our minds is still recognizable. Per our conditioning, we feel right at home with the new Start menu despite one very obvious difference.

To the right of the familiar options are those dynamic live tiles that previously dominated our screens in Windows 8/8.1. But now, confined to the Start menu, they're not overbearing. They're manageable and, unlike in Windows 8, they don't act like a barrier to the things we want to do.

As a matter of fact, it is only when we want to get things done that we see them. This is a very powerful point.

On a psychological level, because the live tiles are seen only when a user wants to get things done there is a positive association between getting things done in Windows and the live tiles. Even if users don't interact with live tiles each time they use the Start menu, the association is there. The Start menu with all of its positive legacy is now being leveraged as a means to add value to the live tile modern environment.

Let's take a closer look.

The look of things

Though the Windows 8/8.1 UI was reminiscent of Windows Phone, it didn't look, nor was the side scrolling pane of tiles, navigated like Windows Phones' UI. With Windows 10 Microsoft makes the live tile portion of the Start menu look and feel like the Windows Phone UI. Its default layout and dimensions are virtually a replica of the Windows Phone Start screen. Additionally the vertical scrolling menu is consistent with the way a user would navigate a Windows phone.

Microsoft's reimagined effort to make Windows Phone's UI familiar to the masses is off to an amazing start. Approximately 81 million Windows 10 users are now flashing that "Windows Phone Start screen" before their eyes whenever they go to Start. With a goal of hundreds of millions of users on Windows 10 in 2-3 years, Microsoft's audience for its surreptitious introduction of the "Windows Phone Start screen", will be increased by an order of magnitude. This dwarves the current audience of Window Phone's users who make up just 2.7% of the smartphone market.

Effectively placing a Windows Phone Start screen in front of every Windows 10 PC user is an ingenious strategy. Coupled with the positive association with a trusted tool for getting things done it is a brilliant long play. Classic conditioning. Pavlov would be proud.

Overtime conditioned users who see live tiles on a Windows phone in a carrier store or on a user's phone in public, will find the UI instantly familiar and may positively associate it with getting things done. That, "what is that?", lack of familiarity may finally be eradicated.

Every time a user launches the Windows 10 Start menu the barrier to Windows Phone's unfamiliar UI is chipped away.

It's not just about looks

The commonalities between the live tile portion of the Start Menu and the Windows Phone Start screen don't end with looks. Users can resize and reposition live tiles on the Start menu in the same fashion as they would on a Windows phone Start screen. As users learn to tailor the Windows 10 menu to their liking by pinning, resizing and re-positioning apps, they are also learning how to navigate and personalize a Windows phone. The process is virtually identical. Microsoft is slick.

Long Play

This Fall Microsoft will release the CityMan and TalkMan, two premium Windows 10 phones. These phones aren't meant to compete directly with iPhone and android flagships. They are for Windows fans. This, I believe, is Microsoft's positioning for the long play. Don't be fooled, ultimately Microsoft is after mobile share.

When Microsoft's premium phones launch this Fall millions of flagship-hungry fans will buy them in droves. We'll likely see the largest surge in Windows phone's sales ever. In the wake of the successful Windows 10 for PC launch, this surge will be a great data point for Windows 10 as a platform. It will provide a powerful launch pad for Microsoft's Windows 10 message.

This positive messaging will likely keep Microsoft in the news cycle during the launch of Apple's new iPhones and iOS9 over the next quarter and beyond. Additionally with millions of Windows fans enthusiastically demoing their long awaited 'flagships' to friends and family, high-end Windows phones will finally be visible in the wild.

With a news cycle validating their claims and the subtle undercurrent of a Windows 10 Start menu familiarizing consumers with the Windows Phone UI, it's likely that these high-end premium devices won't be as easily dismissed by the iPhone and android faithful as previous Windows phones were.

Don't get me wrong. Consumers won't be swayed. Yet.

But with the effects of clandestine conditioning, high-end devices and persistent Windows 10 news they may finally begin to take notice. This is a long play after all.

It will take time for the Windows 10 Start menu to remove user bias against the Windows phone UI and acclimate them to navigating it. But users, conditioned for that bottom left corner, will find the association with a useful tool and the live tile environment almost inescapable. (Users can remove tiles from the menu, but most will likely leave them.)

A year from now, with 100s of millions of people on Windows 10 the Windows phone UI will be more familiar to the world than ever. All thanks to the Windows 10 Start menu.

Microsoft by this time will likely have a truly innovative flagship phone in the market that showcases a more mature Windows 10 Mobile OS. That device will ideally capture the attention of a market that will then be more familiar with the Windows 10 Mobile UI. And it will likely not be just for fans.

After all, Nadella clearly stated in his 7/8/15 memo that the narrow focus to three phone segments was a near term goal. By the end of 2016 with the combination of iOS, android and Win32 app porting hopefully in full swing, a growth in the universal apps portfolio and the conditioning effects of the Start menu, Microsoft may be better positioned to take a more aggressive stance in mobile.

"In the near term, we will run a more effective phone portfolio,... We plan to narrow our focus to three customer segments…We'll bring …Windows fans the flagship devices they'll love."

Wrap-Up

There are many barriers to winning consumers to Windows phones. That said the Windows 10 Start menu is designed to accomplish what is arguably the most difficult challenge for Microsoft. Conditioning the human mind to like something either unfamiliar or disliked. Nadella's goal is that users go from needing Windows to loving Windows. It seems that at least in regards to phone he is prepared to subtly condition users to that end. That's classic.

Jason L Ward is a columnist at Windows Central. He provides unique big picture analysis of the complex world of Microsoft. Jason takes the small clues and gives you an insightful big picture perspective through storytelling that you won't find *anywhere* else. Seriously, this dude thinks outside the box. Follow him on Twitter at @JLTechWord. He's doing the "write" thing!

191 Comments
  • Another stroke of genius from the mastermind!
  • You forgot the smiley  ;-)
  • should be called how windows managed to kill itself..
  • Or "how Windows reinvented itself in order to keep itself relevant'.  
  • Give Jason a medal! Seriously his name is enough to make me read these big articles minutely!
  • Guess I have to agree :-) Usually I don't finish huge stories like this, but I finished this one in first read! Keep it up!!
  • @Dani-L I honestly appreciate your support. Thank you!
  • Really your articles are pleasure to read. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • I second that. I don't read those big articles but his name makes me read it. And obviously we all learn something new. :) well done again
  • @Rohit Thank you! I appreciate that you take the time to read them. It wouldn't be as rewarding investing the time and energy to write them if you guys weren't here to read them. So I thank you!
  • @Pallav Thanks so much for that! I really appreciate the support!
  • I honestly hate the start menu and screen in windows 10 but i guess if it helps grow windows phone then I will try to adjust to it
  • Curious. What do you dislike?
  • WP was enjoyable to use. Very important. W10M is not. It is utilitarian without flow or uniformity. A clunky hodgepodge.
  • It is a beta OS.
  • I agree. IMO, Microsoft messed up Windows Phone with Windows 8 and RT. WP8 has a fantastic interface and is intuitive beyond iOS and Android. The OS was lacking features, but the mobile experience was truly wonderful. That style was poorly implemented in W8 and RT and it made people automatically hate WP8. Now W10 has fixed the desktop, but it too is going to hurt WP because the company is abandoning that which made WP intuitive and perfect for mobile. 
  • Don't have personally anything against the live tiles.... But we all should have the exact same system on both pc and tablet and phone. You should be able to choose between pc mode and tablet/phone mode. I'd like to have a pointer for example on my phone, to do tasks I actually can't do. That would be a win for microsoft, because we all want that
  • Continuum I believe allows this, part of Windows 10 mobile.
  • Pair a bluetooth mouse with your phone. Tada.
  • In Windows 10 you can choose to use tablet or desktop mode through the notification pane's quick action buttons.
    I leave it in desktop mode all the time on my Surface 3 because the tablet mode is garbage right now. In Windows 10 mobile, there is a dot in the keyboard that will move a cursor around the screen.  This is similar to how some business oriented laptops have a nib/rubber column in the middle of the keyboard to move the cursor instead of using the trackpad. Put your finger on it and "drag" the dot to move a cursor. It might be helpful for more intricate situations, but I stil find myself just touching the screen.  
  • I have not used the computer a lot since upgrading Windows, but I find that the "new" start menu is quite cleverly done. I'm not one of those who missed the old start menu either (but that's not to say I was a fan of the start screen)
  • I felt the same way at first but when I discovered tablet mode I did a complete 360 :) ( really it's a 180 ). The main issue I have with windows 10 is the os and the app gesture or swipe overlap.
  • Oh, I really like the new task switching. Much more than 8. It took me a little to get used to the change, but I am a fan now.
  • I like it on a real PC desktop/ laptop but hate it on a tablet. Tablet mode was better on 8.1. It will get better I hope.
  • If you like WP, how do you dislike the Start Menu on W10? That's incredibly contradictory.
  • Of course, this is operant conditioning, not classical conditioning. We have been trained to work a certain way, not feel a certain way. Skinner or Thorndike would have been more appropriate references.
  • Don't bring logic to the table....they are only ersatz journalists...
  • The psych student in me wanted to correct them but alas I just decided to ignore haha
  • Yawn!
  • "When Microsoft's premium phones launch this Fall millions of flagship-hungry fans will buy them in droves. We'll likely see the largest surge in Windows phone's sales ever. Ha. I gotta say, you ARE an optimist, ain't 'ya?
  • Hittin the pipe early wc is...
  • exactly. lololol. let's see. uh... iphone 6s... nexus 5... still a little too late, microsoft. this flagship and wp10 better be good in the long run.
  • This is exactly what I thought! I couldn't help but laugh when I read that line. And the line about millions of new Windows phones being shown off to family and friends. Ah, thanks WC, I needed a laugh this morning!
  • So which side of the fence are you? Pessimism vs optimism? Lol!!
  • Realism
  • It needs to probably be changed to "...millions of MS flagship-hungry fans..." to be accurate.
  • @Jonnie @yed19 @gdc_lumia @it Wasn't me @Jonny Tremaine Thanks for your input. \ I hoped that I was clear that the Cityman and the Talkman which Nadella, as he shared is directing to Windows fans will indeed fly off the shelves to that target market. Here's the excerpt: "This Fall Microsoft will release the CityMan and TalkMan, two premium Windows 10 phones. These phones aren't meant to compete directly with iPhone and android flagships. They are for Windows fans. This, I believe, is Microsoft's positioning for the long play. Don't be fooled, ultimately Microsoft is after mobile share. When Microsoft's premium phones launch this Fall millions of flagship-hungry fans will buy them in droves. We'll likely see the largest surge in Windows phone's sales ever. In the wake of the successful Windows 10 for PC launch, this surge will be a great data point for Windows 10 as a platform." The flagship-hungry fans in paragraph 2 is referring back three sentences to paragragh one where I identify the target for those devices as Windows fans. Now naturally I am not a prophet and don' KNOW what will happen, but from the tone of what I hear in this community and beyond there are a lot of Windows fans waiting on the edge of their seats for a decent high end phone to replace their 920s particularly and other devices (1020's, 1520s' 930s etc) The Cityman and Talkman will sell, I believe very very well to that sizable chunk of the (tiny) Windows share. If this occurs, there will be an evident surge in Windows Phone sales, a surge likely unlike any we've seen before. There has never been this much pent up "demand" for a device in the Windows community that has gone un-satisfied for so long. When those devices are made available many folks in this community will, many flagship-hungry fans WILL be like horses out of the gates to get one. No Windows flagship that has launched in the past has had that time of audience so passionately awaiting its arrival, for so long prior to the launch. Especially not with the benefit of a brand new OS that presents a new Universal platform. So, I humbly, agree to disagree. I think MS is well positioned to so a surge in sales to the Windows phones that won't look anything like Apples or Samsung sales. But it will also not look anything like Microsoft's passed launches. There will be I believe a great data point that they just may be able capitalize on to enhance their Windows 10 platform message as these sale will be in the wake of a great Window 10 for PC launch. Time will tell. :-)
  • Microsoft, in order to help wp apps must change their minimalist view of the hardware.  In order for the developers to jump onto the bandwagon in a greater fashion to wp they need the hardware in comparison to Android and Apple phones they are already developing for thereby just needing to port over to wp(OS and hardware). If I am a developer that spent the time developing for a medium to highend device I would not want to strip down my work that I got working in order to fit a more limited OS and hardware. I would not want to spend the time. This is probably the major reason the other platforms get the apps vs wp. Microsoft have limited devices for developers to use and those themselves are old hardware. This view need to change for Microsoft do not need to build a wide range of phones but have at least one of which the hardware is on par with the hardware for Android and Apple  so developers can port without major modifications.
  • .
  • In facts Microsoft is training us like dogs to use his product
  • Well, no. They are training us like humans. There were no encouraging biscuits included with my PC and the salesman definitely didn't attempt to ruffle my hair for choosing an MS product. Perhaps your PC makes a high pitched noise every time you browse to Google? I've not noticed it myself so no dog style training I can see.
  • Perfect! Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Well, they treated us like evolved beings capable of adapting to new situations, and it didn't do them any favors. If we're being trained, it's because we blew our chance to be treated otherwise.
  • I learned that when MS show you something new and wonderful, don't believe them. They will take it away again if you fall for it.
  • And just writing, "These phones aren't meant to compete directly with iPhone and android flagships" doesn't make it true. The market at large WILL compare them to the competition, as they should.
  • One has to wonder then, if they arent meant to compete with the best of today what the heck are they meant to compete against? Lumia 640's and low end android devices? The level of reality distortion on this site is starting to exceed anything apple has ever produced....
  • Yeah, it has been getting progressively worse. Seems about the time they got permission to use the name Windows Central it started getting worse. And knowing that Microsoft does read the site occasionally doesn't help. And Sam going to Microsoft, etc....
  • @theefman @Jonnie @Johnny Tremaine Thanks fir your input. If you recal Satya Nadella's message on 7/8/15 he made it clear that Microsoft's operational shift with phone was not to create a standalone market with phone in the near term. He clearly communicated that there are now three segments of phones MS is focusing on, 3 markets they already have a strength in, value phones, business phone and phones fir fans like you and I. Now when you take the statement "These phones aren't meant to compete with iPhone and android flagships" which I made within the context of that reference, it is true that per Microsoft these devices are not being by Redmond to compete within the wider market against those devices. These devices are the premium devices Nadella referred to, even in his interview with Mary Jo Foley(7/14/15) for Windows fans. Its like if you go are going to a wedding reception and days in advance in the invitation you are asked do you want chicken, beef or fish as your entree. You say well I'm not a fan of beef or fish so ill go with the chicken. When the time for the reception arrives and the server brings out the chicken, the chef only prepared the chicken for those who wanted it, and in limited quantities, and only "chicken fans" are looking for or expecting the chicken. The beef and fish folks will get beef and fish. MS is at a point where their current position in thuer long term mobile strategy is tailored toward restricted markets. In thus piece when I referenced the ' flagships' it was toward their fan base that they are focused. As I shared further in the piece it is after some time after the iOS and Android, win32 porting, growth in Universal app catalogue and the growing affects of familiarizing users with the Modern UI through the start menu and the potential real innovative flagship device that they will gi after the "beef and fish" android and iphone folks. Thanks for your input, and if so inclined please revisit the text and you will find these points are made. Thanks again!:-)
  • I was under the impression that the Surface Phone is on its way.  If that's true, wouldn't Microsoft position that as the Windows Mobile flagship to compete directly with iPhone and Android flagships? That would mean the CityMan and TalkMan would be positioned as midrange or perhaps even highend devices, but not necessarily flagships.
  • "In front of every user" ? More than a few will have MS Office running on iOS in front of them...
  • Good insights as always, Jason but I'm patiently waiting for the day Microsoft fixes the Start menu not opening bug. The switch to the XAML based menu might make it easy for them to update it easily but its annoying when the menu doesn't pop up when you need it the most. There's a LOT of work to be done. I, for one, am optimistic about the whole Windows 10 saga. Its only upto Microsoft to really listen to actual customer feedback and not just rely on telemetry data for real world decisions.
  • Unlike other articles from Jason, I particularly liked this one...its more balanced...controlled optimism...things can go another way but so far its all playing out according to the plan and there's a good chance that it will continue to...I like that... Good one Jason...:)
  • @rianeext Thanks for the support! Glad you liked this one. :-) Hope you like the next one as well! https://sway.com/Ia5kigwk-GaROG2i
  • I'm not sure what Start Menu bug you're referring to. I don't have that issu on my Surface 3, my family doesn't on their upgraded Dell PC, and my mom's 6 year old Dell (upgraded to 10) doesn't have that issue.  However, I did upgrade the 2 newer devices and then did a clean install, and I had to do a clean install on the old Dell because XP doesn't upgrade directly to 10.  I'm not saying you should try a clean install (and you shouldn't have to), but in my experience upgrading from one OS directly to the next always has bugs. Microsoft is listening to customer feedback through the Windows Insider program, the app built into Windows 10, and ideas/comments posted to their UserVoice accounts.  Combining this with telemetry isn't a bad thing.
  • @NAren Thanks for the support Naren!
  • Yawn. Another puff piece while MS is busy shutting down their apps and telling us it's all going to be alright.. The check from MS in the mail.
  • Yeah, no offense to Jason but it's a totally bizarre piece, as if it's aggresively ignoring facts on the ground: the latest market share stats are decreasing for mobile, going the wrong way, while Microsoft pulls apps and their mobile OS is still missing crucial functionality a month before launch. It's very Baghdad Bob-ish.
  • @Johnny Thanks for your input. Please realize that this is one piece about one topic. Windows Central has published a piece about the pulling of Lumia apps and addressed a number of other topics. It would not be prudent to try to cover all those areas in one piece. But as I have shared my thoughts on various topics in the past, I will continue to do so. Some of those topics may interest you. Some may not. But we do have a team of writers and we provide a wide breadth of content. I'm sure that at some point you do find something that interests you. You may even find some of my pasts or future pieces more interesting than this piece. Please just keep coming back. Share your thoughts in the discussion and if so inclined share our content. Maybe someone in you social circles will find the information intriguing. Thanks again for your response. Maybe some of these pieces I wrote are more your flavor: https://sway.com/Ia5kigwk-GaROG2i
  • Idiot
  • There is a poll on twitter about the next windows 10 mobile build release. Check gabe aul's twitter feed. If the poll result is yes then we get a new build on friday otherwise next tuesday.
  • At this point they should be locking down the RTM for release not posting polls for people to beg them to release buggy preview builds.
  • You always here this sort of unfounded conjecture in open type betas. Not all builds are public ally tested, we have no idea how far behind the build we are testing is compared to the current state of software and usually we don't even know why we are testing a specific build over another. As the software comes closer to release there is little reason to test something that is clearly working. At least not for very long
  • I'm sure you realize that different people at MS have different jobs, right? If a waitress comes to your table and asks "Do you want all your food together, or should we bring it out as its ready?", do you yell at her for not cooking it fast enough? There are managers, designers, programmers, social media experts, etc...
    SO, do you think Gabe is the guy who uses his work hours talking to people on Twitter while he is supposed to be designing or programming the bugs away for the final release? Come on..
  • Iam a psychologist and I must say that you are totally right from my point of view. Great article by the way.
  • @ortizang That's so much for your support and validation of the observation from your professional perspective. :-)
  • Except the Windows mobile start screen needs a makeover... Microsoft needs to take android Apple BlackBerry Symbian Windows phone 7 and throw it in a blender ... I want pages on the start screen like ios and android have. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Nah.
  • Then please keep using your Android.  I like the start screen experience on my 920, 1520, and now 930.  The start screen is meant as a quick access location and not to house all of your apps.  This is the same way the Start Screen/Menu are designed.  Open the start menu to a list of your selected shortcuts and recently opened files, and click All Programs to see everything. I had 2 iPhones before switching to the 920. For me it is a better experience.  It's perfectly ok for the different OSs to have their unique interfaces, and of course "steal" some aspects from others to "improve" them.
  • Dont need those boring ugly screen. Wp have the best start screen
  • Windows 8 was too good for its age.
  • *inefficient, unintuitive, and jarring.
  • Duh, and this should have been the approach from day 1 with Windows 8 and WP8... The fact that there was any difference in view at all was an indomitable oversite of epic proportions that almost anyone with any aptitude for marketing could have pointed out...  
  • Jason, I feel like this was a really well-written article, and it really helps to explain why Microsoft did what they did with Windows 8/8.1. I came to Windows Phone after Windows 8 was released, and for some reason never made the connection between the two UIs.
  • Zachary - they (WC) has been 'splaining every change MS makes (for the good or bad) since the Windows Phone 7 days. Its called spinning.  
  • @Zachary Thanks for your feedback. I'm glad that the analysis and drawing on the history helped to put things in perspective for you. Glad to have you on WP! :-)
  • The day when Microsoft showed windows 8 I was really shocked how beautiful and unique they mare their OS. But ppl were so stubborn that they wanted start menu back.
  • THAT was trying to execute a real, innovative vision. Now we're back to tiny menus and the "innovation" of hamburger menus.....
  • You're missing the bigger picture though. Universal apps, catering to Andorid users, Continuum and other crap are much more important than user friendliness.
  • It was nice on tablets, but incredibly inefficient & unintuitive on desktops. 8.1 fixed a lot of the glaring mistakes though. Giving us folders or ways to define our own categories would've made it much better
  • A well though out article. Whether it pans out or not will be interesting to see but the logic to the plan makes a lot of sense and seems a viable plan Microsoft may have. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • @cr_buck Thanks for adding to the discussion! Appreciate your feedback and support! :-)
  • Vertical scrolling might be great for the menu, but not sure about the screen - my eyes only go down one column at a time vs the entire row in Windows 8
  • That's the great thing about the tiles. You can customize them in whatever size, location, or number of column you wish. It makes the phone more personal because you've made changes that work best for you. iOS restricts you to a defined grid, and for me Android doesn't seem to have much order.
  • This is exactly where Microsoft went wrong. They designed a UI to enable a business strategy rather than to meet the needs and preferences of users. This turned off many users from PC user who moved to Mac and will have hit PC sales for a couple of years. I was previosly a Windows Phone user and found it really easy and actually much nicer than iOS or Android but eventually moved to iOS because there we too many little inconveniences. Windows 10 looks like it is back on track again for PC users and they just need to focus on continually making it better rather than using it as a a tool to prop up their phone sales.
  • If only those start menu apps actually worked. People, Mail and Calendar are broken now for many users and it is a BAD way to show off tiles.  
  • Why are you writing these kinds of articles? Feels like reading a huge sarcasm!
  • And your stupid comment is called trolling
  • WIndows Central (or Winbeta, or Neowin, or any other Microsoft centered site) articles which make huge assumptions about human psychology are my least favorite. Perhaps we will see a huge boost in Windows Phone sales with the release of the new "flagships," but I'm not counting on it. I had managed to convert 10 friend/family members over to Windows Phone over the last several years, and knew of about 3 others using it. Of the converts: 1 left for iPhone around the time 8.0 rolled out after she broke her phone 1 left for iPhone four months ago after he broke his 920 (which always gave him problems anyway) since there weren't any flagships out on AT&T 1 has an Icon but is leaving for an iPhone in the near future b/c she requires mobile payment solutions (specifically Square - it's cheaper than PayPal) and wants a proper Instagram client. Her husband is also considering a diffent phone now that she is leaving. 1 (reluctantly) upgraded to an 830 recently after their 1020 died on them 1 is on a 920 wants a flagship Windows Phone but is incredibly upset by how long it has taken and is thinking about jumping ship to iPhone 1 is on a1020 and is happy enough that they probably won't upgrade 2 are on 1020s and won't have an upgrade for another year 1 was on a 920 and switched to an iPhone after no longer being able to endure his wife's insistence he get an iPhone Of the 3 others: 1 (an IT professional) dropped it after requiring an enterprise chat app (HipChat) on his phone to work efficiently 1 left (reason unknown) 1 is on an ancient Tmobile Lumia 700 or 800 series and is not a huge upgrader For those keeping count: thats 6/13 have left 4/7 that won't be upgrading to new devices this year Cool story, right? Obviously this is anecdotal evidence but the marketshare data seems to back up the trend.   I'm on a 920 and  I'm also one of the many suprememly dissapointed by the design of the new "flagships." I am waiting to see them in person but am considering either a Moto X Pure or buying a Lumia 640XL off contract... If I go with the 640, I'm really just waiting and praying for a Surface Phone... but continunig to wait seems like a lot at this point and I might just jump ship.  
  • @andFishgoblub Thanks for your feedback. And I too converted a number of folks 11-12 in my circle to Windows phone. Either through breakage or some other reason 5 are now on Android and iPhone (I believe 3 android and two iPhone). One of that number REALLY wanted a Window Phone but she and her husband were able to take advantage of a Samsung promotion that worked out better for their family financially. Appreciate the feedback. We try to provide an assortment of pieces so though something may not tickle your fancy one day, come on back, and I'm sure something more your flavor will flow through. :-)
  • Very good :-) read , Thanks!
  • @Burner Thanks for the support! :-)
  • Really interesting article. Thanks :)
  • @ArrowQueen Thanks you! and your are welcome! :-)
  • Wtf !!! You've convinced meeee !!!!
  • @ramielram Thanks for the support! :-)
  • All is fine but question remains why didn't they think of it the first time? Didn't they know people would be alienated by the metro UI and the removal of the start menu? They could have shown it to a few people.
  • The #hope is strong in this one.
  • If this is true, it's a brilliant strategy! I'm really hoping you're right, but having been a user since the WP7 days, I'm still very skeptical. Breakthroughs were always "Coming Soon". Wait for the next update, they said again and again. But with the new leadership and direction (One Windows, Continuum, Astoria, UAP, etc), it seems more likely this time will be the big win for which we've been waiting these last five years. Will it be enough to bring Android and iOS users to the platform? Is it enough to win back those WP users who were previously burned by the many broken promises or the blocked upgrade path to WP8? This is shaping up to be an exciting holiday shopping season for techies!
  • @dandrayan Thanks for the feedback! And yes the strategy is a a great on. I think MS is really lining it ducks up well. There is an undeniable uphill battle. But I think they are fighting it with a very comprehensive strategy that hit many necessary points. This article of course focuses on one and mentions briefly a couple of others. Naturally nothing in this industry stays still and rivals as we know are constantly moving forward. So time will tell how everything will play out. But yes indeed, the plan is strong, ambitious and comprehensive. Exciting times ahead! Lets see how it all plays out!!! :-) https://sway.com/Ia5kigwk-GaROG2i
  • I've already had several iPhone friends say to me that using Windows 10 has made them want a Windows Phone because of the start menu.
  • @Gunzta Wow, that's great. Thanks for that anecdotal testimony! Hopefully we'll see much, much more of that! :-)
  • Just too bad that livetiles are dead with everything10 related. Trumped and outed by notifications, notifications and confusion.
  • Obvious. And "borrowed" the design from a UI developer named Jay something... You guys had an article on him a while back I believe.
  • I've been saying exactly this for years!
    Customer buys pc, gets used to live tiles. Next time they need a mobile or tablet, they will see the familiar live tiles and think, "I already know how to use that" "that matches my other device"
  • W10 search is another strike of genius from mastermind Nadella. Can't even find MS Office programs.
  • It easily find for me
  • Apps , apps, apps. High quality universal apps is needed. Can't have it released last on the platform. With one Windows for all devices I am hoping lack of apps will be an after thought. Go W10
  • This has got to be the most ludicrous article I have read. The author actually believes that Microsoft brought back the start menu to condition people with live tiles and then eventually sell windows phones? Jason Ward is seriously delusional.
  • I agree.
    The reason the start menu returned was due to tons of pushback from their main buyers: Enterprise IT.
    Businesses had no intention of rolling out W8 to, and training, cubicle drones on a new Windows interface.
  • @Pericle and Johnny Actually the opening paragraph states clearly WHY I believe MS brought back the start menu. Here you go: "When an individual or multibillion-dollar tech company loses their way, it is wise that they go back to where they began to find a fresh start. The new live tile enhanced Start menu in Windows 10 not only consoles the Windows faithful who lamented its end in Windows 8/8.1. It may also be Microsoft's key to reaching the masses with its mobile dream." Clearly I am acknowledging that MS los their way in removing it. I acknowledge that the return of the Start Menu consoles those wo lamented its loss. Finally as third benefit clearly stated, "It may also be Microsoft's key to reaching the masses with its mobile dream." So no the REASON for bringing it back was to course correct what went wrong in removing it in Windows 8, which clearly state in the piece. "That was the hope. But this radical shift backfired. The industry cried foul." However as the piece points out, they could still persist with their plan to try to Win uses to the Modern UI that was the goal of Windows 8/8.1 start screen. They didn't have to abandon that plan when they abandoned the Start Screen in Windows 8 and brought back the Start menu. They could do the plan better using the Start menu. That's actually what was communicated in the piece. Thanks for your input guys!
  • .
  • I wonder; maybe by removing the start button in Windows 8 Microsoft were purposely conditioning us to miss what we once had; thereby making us love it again, on its return, with a passion. It's text book "new coke" tactics.
  • Love....this....article. :)
  • @johnnypdx Thanks for the support! :-)
  • Speaking of the start button being on the left; I wonder; would it be wiser to have the Windows button appear on the left for every new Windows phone..?
  • The natural way for me to launch a program since at least Windows XP has been to press the Windows key and start typing the name of the program. To launch word: Win+wo+Enter. This natural way is severely broken in Window 10 : when you press the windows key, you now have to wait for Cortana to start otherwise the following keystrokes are not taken into account. To add insult to injury, if you don't wait long enough after you have typed the first letters, Windows 10 will launch a Web Search instead of starting the program. For me, the return of the *useless* start menu is just a major regression in Windows 10 whereas Win 8/8.1 was still acting fine with me, just like Windows 7 and Windows XP....
  • That's odd... I do this exact same thing to open up IE. I'll hit start, type inter, and there it is. I don't have the cortana problem.
  • What are you talking about? Its same for me like w7,w8
  • Good plan, Microsoft!
  • :)
  • This is basically how I see it. Get users used to the tiles and how the OS works and then they walk into a store and see something familiar and think "oh I know how that works". Then the rep (hopefully) says "Yeah and the same apps you run on your desktop run on this device and they even sync up." Ah, just maybe...
  • Well, that's the marketing. The reality is different and more complicated, hence even Microsoft apps that exist on the desktop but aren't on mobile, or have less functionality.
  • When people see it on their computer and see the phones in the store people will be like "hey that looks like my phone"
  • Because that worked SO well with Windows 8.
  • Another wonderful article! I'll admit in my pains to aclimatise to using my Surface and Linx 7 tablets the Windows 10 way rather than my (currently still preferred) Windows 8.1 way, I'd forgotten to take note of my main desktop (well, laptop) device, which I use the new Start Menu and have it set up similarly to my Windows Phone and feels so natural and useful to use. So far reactions to Windows 10 from my friends and family have been positive, (though I moved a lot of family at least to Windows Phones a while back) and as those who aren't already WP faithful, will hopefully be swayed if, as you (hopefully correctly) presume, next year we see a larger push into the mobile race again after getting us WP addicts some decent phones to show off in the near term. I just hope that whatever happens, they bring back the cyan theme colour and cyan covers/cases for their phones. Only then will I be happy. ;)
  • You are on drugs.  As someone who LOVED Windows Phones from the absolute beginning, and someone who LOVED Windows 8 from the absolute beginning, and someone who DESPISED Windows 10 from the beginning, I can say for certain that the new Windows phones will NOT be flying off the shelves.  They will be met with the same "meh" that met the predecessors and Microsoft has lost a lot of those of us who embraced Windows Phone early.  People will flock to the latest iPhones and whatever comes out next for Android.  Why?  Because Microsoft has already thrown in the towel and given up everything that could remotely be argued in favor of Windows Phones TO Apple and Google.  Windows 10 Mobile is absolutely horrible compared to WP8.1. 
  • I think you are drunk, if you think wp8.1 is better compared with w10m
  • Thanks for sharing your opinion, you and I are in the minority of people who actually loved Windows 8. I was unhappy with the early changes made to Windows 10, but by the time it was released I had a change of heart and cringe now when I'm forced to use 8/8.1 again. Similarly, it's not fair to judge the state of W10M at this time as it's still being torn down and rebuilt to align with Windows 10. Passing judgment right now is akin to eating cookies before they've been put into the oven. What features do you think are missing or poorly implemented so far in W10M? Have you been submitting feedback to Microsoft about them?
  • @dandrayan:  Bad analogy... cookie dough is awesome.   Seriously, I agree with your comments.
  • @ScubaDog Thanks for your input. Though the insult is not required. That said. I hoped that I was clear that the Cityman and the Talkman which Nadella, as he shared is directing to Windows fans will indeed fly off the shelves to that target market. Here's the excerpt: "This Fall Microsoft will release the CityMan and TalkMan, two premium Windows 10 phones. These phones aren't meant to compete directly with iPhone and android flagships. They are for Windows fans. This, I believe, is Microsoft's positioning for the long play. Don't be fooled, ultimately Microsoft is after mobile share. When Microsoft's premium phones launch this Fall millions of flagship-hungry fans will buy them in droves. We'll likely see the largest surge in Windows phone's sales ever. In the wake of the successful Windows 10 for PC launch, this surge will be a great data point for Windows 10 as a platform." The flagship-hungry fans in paragraph 2 is referring back three sentences to paragragh one where I identify the target for those devices as Windows fans. Now naturally I am not a prophet and don' KNOW what will happen, but from the tone of what I hear in this community and beyond there are a lot of Windows fans waiting on the edge of their seats for a decent high end phone to replace their 920s particularly and other devices (1020's, 1520s' 930s etc) The Cityman and Talkman will sell, I believe very very well to that sizable chunk of the (tiny) Windows share. If this occurs, there will be an evident surge in Windows Phone sales, a surge likely unlike any we've seen before. There has never been this much pent up "demand" for a device in the Windows community that has gone un-satisfied for so long. When those devices are made available many folks in this community will, many flagship-hungry fans WILL be like horses out of the gates to get one. No Windows flagship that has launched in the past has had that time of audience so passionately awaiting its arrival, for so long prior to the launch. Especially not with the benefit of a brand new OS that presents a new Universal platform. So, I humbly, agree to disagree. I think MS is well positioned to so a surge in sales to the Windows phones that won't look anything like Apples or Samsung sales. But it will also not look anything like Microsoft's passed launches. There will be I believe a great data point that they just may be able capitalize on to enhance their Windows 10 platform message as these sale will be in the wake of a great Window 10 for PC launch. Time will tell. :-)
  • Tons of positivism here
  • I like the new start menu so much. With these live tiles, the desktop shortcuts now feel really irrelevant so I've gotten rid of all my desktop shortcuts except Recycle Bin and This PC. I really like my new start menu. Everything looks clean and when I click start, tadaa! Live tiles! I know where everything is located since I've personally customized the arrangement so I can work/play more efficiently.
  • Microsoft did not lost his way. They indeed showed the path.
  • I never thought of this idea, what an interesting viewpoint. Thanks for this, Jason! When I think about it, I had no issues with Windows 8, so I didn't mind trying out a Windows phone.
  • @libra89 Thanks for the feedback. I appreciate the support! :-)
  • Long Run.
    Pretty convincing, actually.
    But in our extreme short-term-immediate-culture, this strategy will mostly be denied as valid.
    Still, long term is long term. You have to have one. (strategy) Again, I like the thinking!
  • @snakebitten Thank you so much for your support! :-)
  • None of this will help the phones if the carriers aren't on board and devs don't actively use The Visual Studio tools to port apps.  Does anyone know if Verizon will cary the 950 variants?  T-Mobile?  Rodgers?  AT&T?  Movistar?  TelCel?  TelMex?  Axtel?  Vodafone?  Virgin? Bell? etc?  Unless that's a yes to all of those, it will go nowhere.  Right now, in the U.S. you can buy 3 Windows Phones new and on contract using the only 2 relevant carriers of AT&T and Verizon.  HTC M8, Lumia 940xl, Lumia 635.  Verizon carries the HTC and AT&T have the Lumias.  The HTC is old, the 640xl is nice, but not powerful, and the 635 is a POS.  The 640 is a go-phone pre-paid only device.  That's not even relevant to the real numbers.  If those two carriers do not carry both the 950 and 950xl, don't count on us EVER seeing more market share. 
  • Thoroughly put, greatly interpreted.
    The brainstorm behind Microsoft's Start menu and windows 10 strategy.
    Keep the flow going Jason!
  • @leNeo Thanks so much for the support. That's encouraging. :-)
  • Some people will notice the similarity, but the majority who won't see a windows phone in the wild must be shown.... They need to see commercials and advertisements showing the two OS's together, show the guy working on his PC then taking out his phone and seeing the same styled start screen and live tiles, Microsoft will have to stick it in their faces and say look. Why aren't they doing that?
    Do I need to make my own commercials?
  • @Robewms Absolutely, 100% agree. I think MS will do this. But I don't anticipate an aggressive push of that nature until they feel they a better positioned in regards to their ecosystem (after Astria, Islandwood et) is better fortified. By pulling back in the short term they've committed to a course to target the groups they know they already have, low end consumers, fans and enterprise. All who don't need commercials. I think by next year however, as theys start lining up and they feel better positioned to take it to the mat, yeah we'll see an aggressive marketing push. I don't anticpate them investing in that at this point. But hey I could be wrong. We'll see. I'd LOVE to see some commercials. :-)
  • So,Nadella Master Mind series is over?? And why you guys add those ugly phones in any articles?? Are you trying to condition us about them?? They are still ugly to me...
  • For you they are ugly, for me they are beautiful, best design phone ever made
  • Please put down the crack pipe.
  • only flaw: most people don't use the part of the start menu that windows phone uses. Also neither android nor iOS use it and more people prefer what they do to anything MS has created to date on any phone OS ever. To think MS will prevail here is silly. Windows 10 for phones will remain a comercial disaster. Until they don't deliver an OS that people want to use, and get rid of that ridiculous tile system that consumers have rejected since 2011, windows phone or windows mobile, will stay a niche market.
  • Tile system definitely not ridiculous-as its been said a million times that's what sets it apart from the other 2 and why I'll never use the other 2. Stale boring dead icon start screen staring at you. Tiles ain't going anywhere.
  • I'll share what killed Windows 8 for me... and I see the same thing in Windows 10. Wife had an Asus Tablet with Win8 Pro (real thing) and later a Lumia 2520 with Windows RT. We travel to Mexico allot. When there, Win8 (in either form) doesn't play nice with some of TelCels DSL Modems. So you go in and manually assign your DNS servers and all is good. So, we've got this touch first interfact, but when we need to do something a bit involved, we are using a keyboard/mouse interface that requires me to almost use my pinky fingernail to make selections. THe hodge podge of Win32 and Modern UI elements was so irritating and confusing.  I see the same thing with Windows 10.  A mixture. Inconsistencies in Context Menus, Fonts, Icons, Applets, etc.... It feels so unfinished. Apple doesn't permit this sort of experience. They get these details implemented.      
  • I agree completely. TouchMousePointer is an essential tool on my wife's HP Stream 8. I'm surprised MS didn't provide a baked-in option for the mouse pointer as nobody should require a mouse on a touch-only device. She just chucks the tablet in her purse... there's no way she's going to carry a mouse just in case she needs to mess with some fiddly settings somewhere
  • To make windows phone successful MS should just make the phone available on the PC.a button should just open up the phone on my screen.
  • This is total BS! What the author fails to realize is that Android and IOS users aren't going to switch to a new OS just because they're happy or even excited about the looks and functionality of the Start Menu in Windows 10.  That's like saying "if Apple comes up with a prettier OS for their iPhones then I'll make the switch".  Human beings are way more complicated than dogs, both psychologically and emotionally, and we make buying decisions based on many different factors, not just looks and familiarity.  Brand loyalty has way more to do with a purchasing decision than any other factor; dogs could care less what kind of food/treat you give them as long as it makes a turd.  In the end, this is just one person's opinion, and you know that opinions are like assholes... everybody has one.
  • @DeltaHotel Thanks for your input. And actually I do realize that users wont switch to another OS simply becae their happy or excited about it. That's why I never posited that notion in this piece. What I did assert however is that one of the biggest barrier to the acceptance of the Window Modern UI is lack of familiarity of the UI due to its very distinct look in contrast to iOS and andrids satic icon based UI. The assertion of the piece actually posits that the constant interaction with the Start menu ehich now hows a "Window Phone-esque" aspect to it, will gradually work to eradicate that barrier of lack of familiarity. If your constantly seeing something and/or interacting with it -it's inevitable that some degree of familiarity will develop. I was also very clear to succinctly stress that point in the Wrap Up. Here you go: "There are many barriers to winning consumers to Windows phones. That said the Windows 10 Start menu is designed to accomplish what is arguably the most difficult challenge for Microsoft. Conditioning the human mind to like something either unfamiliar or disliked. Nadella's goal is that users go from needing Windows to loving Windows. It seems that at least in regards to phone he is prepared to subtly condition users to that end. That's classic." Thanks for you input and I hope this helps. :-)
  • Good article, good work wc. Need more articles like this.
  • @Manash Thanks for the support!
  • At this point in time a lot of the struggle WP has had can be attributed to the backlash from Windows 8. Back in the WP7 days people saw the UI as "different" and might have been hesitant to give it a chance, but there was never any explicit anymosity towards it. As soon as the tiles showed up on people's desktops, there was an immediate kneejerk reaction. If someone saw a windows phone in the store the reaction would now be "ewww I hate that crap on my computer why would I want it on my phone" I definitely agree with Jason that the way 10 has changed things should, at least in theory, make a difference (popular apps and carriers going out of their way to make it fail is always a wildcard). As people are more accustomed to 10 on the desktop, they'll learn the tiles weren't the thing they hated, but rather the change in function that they mentall associated the tiles with. Breaking that association will at the bery least get W10M back to the same level of public perception as WP7, and that's a step in the right direction.
  • @KeegdnaB42 Thanks for the input. Great addition to the discussion. :-) Keep it coming!
  • Exactly. I don't hate live-tiles, I just hate how damn inefficient the start screen is at organising information. It was far worse in 8.0, and overall a very frustrating experience on non-touch devices. It was weird that it was such a joy to use on tablets/touch-laptops, but so ludicrously horrid on desktop. I started to like it more in 8.1 but it's still a very limiting experience - no folders, no custom categories, no way to have tiles exactly where you want (right-aligned, with vertical gaps etc), no non-hack way to change the icons etc.
  • Yeah no! Lets see in my shop we have 4 PC all running win10 . Let me ask them if the start screen is convincing them to switch to w10 mobile, first one" what for ? WP has no apps . You could put four start screens and I still wont leave my note 4" ok next one " heck no " ok next one " nah well leave the WP to those that only want to talk and text" last one" uhm gonna get a new iPhone WP has like maybe one phone look at you you've had the same cracked screen for 5 months now ...nah no WP for me" so there yu have it. No start screen will change over anyone.
  • @paulxxwall Please if you are so inclined revisit what I presented here. It is not an assertion that a brief interaction with a start menu over the course of the 30 plus days that Windows 10 has been available that consumers will suddenly flock to Windows phone. :-) Not at all. It is more an analysis that the Start menu with it's Windows Phone-esque look, will suddenly make familiar to 100's of millions of consumers something that is unfamiliar, as hey constantly use it. "This will have the affect of helping to eradicate at least one barrier to Windows Phone adoption - lack of familiarity. I actually sum up that point in the Wrap- Up There are many barriers to winning consumers to Windows phones. That said the Windows 10 Start menu is designed to accomplish what is arguably the most difficult challenge for Microsoft. Conditioning the human mind to like something either unfamiliar or disliked. Nadella's goal is that users go from needing Windows to loving Windows. It seems that at least in regards to phone he is prepared to subtly condition users to that end. That's classic." Thanks for the input! :-)
  • No Apps arguments is now a sh*t
  • I'm extremely optimistic about and I really believe this will work, and another thing that i think will attract Windows 10 PC users to Windows 10 Mobile is Cortana.
  • Except for the fact that Cortana is going to be made available for Android as well as IOS/OSX only if they (the user) agrees to switch their default search engine to Bing.  Again a huge leap for MS.
  • Agreed. These are all pieces to a bigger puzzle that will hopefully gain more mobile marketshare. Microsoft is obviously working towards their vision of a consistent experience across all devices (including iOS and Android), and that experience should encourage people to migrate to the Windows ecosystem. For me, the vision will be complete when I can start a game on my Xbox One and then pick up exactly where I left off on my Windows mobile device, or when I can use Cortana from any device to start composing an email then plug in my tablet or phone using Continuum to attach some files and then send it, seamlessly moving between devices as needed. The cohesive experience is the end goal and will be a great selling point if Microsoft can achieve it.
  • This is a really good article. Nice conjecture for sure and I say that as impressive insight you have Jason!
  • @EricVM Thanks for the support. I appreciate that! :-)
  • The problem is the start menu tiles can be removed. And most people are probably doing just that.
  • Not likely. I suspect the average user doesn't know how or doesn't care enough to figure it out.
  • Great article!
  • So.. How about right swipe for the Most Used apps... And some stuffs like power... Etc..? :-)
  • No matter what people think, the real brain behind Microsoft is the person who created the layout for WIndows 95.... Load up 95 in a VM, or a phone app on Android or iOS (because you can install it on both of them). Then look over it, Look at the start menu, look how the applications are laid out, then look over the control panel. Even basic apps like Paint or calc, get the feel and the change that is still what people demand today in Windows 10 and what will make WIndows 10 a success is the start menu. Look over it with a open mind, esp if you have never touched it before. That old "start button" is more relievent today then it ever was... WIndows 95 was an amazing os back in the day, and I never thought 20+ years ago, Microsoft would stll be pulling the basic UI off it...
  • Very clever connections, Jason... And I think you're right! This is all going to reach a tipping point, at which more and more people will start coming up to me and saying, "Ooooo! Is that a Windows phone? How does it work with your PC?"
  • I have been a Windows Phone user for 3 years (920 and 1020). I'm moving back to the iPhone (the 6S) now that their camera has improved tremendously. Although I love the WP interface, I've had enough of the lack of quality first party apps. Rudy Huyn's apps are the only reason I've stayed here for so long. So long WP and WPCentral!
  • Moving the apps into the Start Menu is pure path dependancy at play. Millions and millions of windows users are familiarized with the start menu. It is the default go-to location for anything that isn't pinned to the taskbar or desktop. That is where programs live. And apps are, simply, programs. The decision to have them on the start menu, and keeping the start menu, should have been obvious from the get go. 
  • A few potential flaws here that should have been addressed: It is likely that many people have stopped using the Start Menu to do stuff and the menu becomes less important as a device gets used over time. Ever since the Desktop existed, shortcuts and files scattered across it to replace digging through the menu with its endless cascade of hovered flyouts that eventually shifted to endless scrolling. In Vista, type to search/run programs was brought mainstream. In 7, pinned taskbar icons became prominent (which really is Quick Launch from 9x relaunched). Windows 8 Start Screen really just collected all the Desktop icons into a drawer while retaining the type to search and pinned icons. So instead of WIN+D or Show Desktop to find those shortcuts, now it's WIN. Now those shortcuts are actually back in the place called "Start." And how isn't 8's Start Screen only seen when trying to get stuff done? Presumably the PC was turned on with the intention to do something. Same with pressing the Win key/button/corner. And how likely did an unfamililar UI actually stop Windows users from jumping to the first iPhones and Androids when those UIs were new? And how helpful was it to have the familar Start Menu in Pocket PCs/Windows Mobile of days past? The real problem was and still is the lack of compelling reasons to switch to Windows phone. What's the incentive to settle for a platform that don't have the apps or integration with other devices (e.g., cars, smart appliances) in the market? Apple brought UX. Android brought choices in price points and device designs/specifications along with power user features. Why lose functionality just to have something similar? Modern design and Pureview didn't do it for the masses. Continuum isn't it. That still relies on developer support. Who can afford new smartphones with less functionality (see problem above), screens with Miracast (or adapters), and kb/m but don't already have more powerful computing devices? For people that only have a smartphone as a computing device, do they have the discretionary income to pay for apps or draw advertisers to fund the developers? Again, it's back down to a niche usage scenario. Universal apps aren't the full answer. Of the new apps created today, how many of them only make sense for use on the go (i.e., no reason to use on the desktop)? So the number of Windows 10 PC users aren't that important here. What are must have Win32 apps on a smartphone besides a browser? All the professional grade stuff is going to need more hardware. etc Lastly, these fall flagships aren't doing a good job so far even among Windows fans... Metro/WP is great but there isn't anything here to help it thrive. :(
  • @ontherheshold thanks for the feedback. Keep adding to the discussion! 1. I addressed your point regarding the utilization of other options besides the Start menu here: 3rd sentence under the section Starting Off- "Though there are options like the ability to pin things to the taskbar, our minds, like those of Pavlov's dogs, are conditioned for the bottom left corner where the Start button resides. And that's ok." One thing to remember is that when Windows 8,took the start menu, millions of people in the industry and clamored for its return. It's back because users wanted it back. So tough there are one who are more acclimated to using various shortcuts and there are many who exisir across the spectrum who use the Start menu a lot some a combo of the menu and other options and some almost exclusive other options. But Microsofts clear investment in the Start menu show thier commitment to having users use it. If you watch the Build presentation again or remember the discussion regarding the menu it is clear that they deliberately designed it to draw users in. They designed it to be interacted with and are also pitching to developers that thier apps will be visible to users, that's why you want to invest in developing for Windows. The most used apps are also deliberately designed to be readily accessible at the top of the menu. Again, something pushed by MS to keep users to use it. And suggested apps also on the menu. Bit again. It's back because users wanted it back. So though there ar le some as you mention who will defer to shortcuts, as I also pointed out, a significant portion of the industry will continue to defer to Start. 2., Regarding your question about users not seeing tiles when they want to get things done. I never inferred in the piece that they wouldn't. :-) Please revisit how I brought in Windows 8,in its Context. After talking about our connection to the Start menu, I introduced how 8 took that away. The tone set from there on regardin 8 is how the industry resisted it. They revolted against it. As a result, any benefits that Sinofsy and team hope to draw from an good association of getting things done and live tiles was lost. Many users perceived them(whether it was the desired affect or not) as being in the way. This is what I communicated. Under the section Win 10 win win I them share show I beilive Windows 10's menu handles that in a more balanced un obtrusive manner that the industry has by and large embraced in contrast to Windows 8's approach. Finally this piece never claims that the Start menu is the only solution. As a matter of fact toward the close I say this. Here's an excerpt: Microsoft by this time will likely have a truly innovative flagship phone in the market that showcases a more mature Windows 10 Mobile OS. That device will ideally capture the attention of a market that will then be more familiar with the Windows 10 Mobile UI. And it will likely not be just for fans. After all, Nadella clearly stated in his 7/8/15 memo that the narrow focus to three phone segments was a near term goal. By the end of 2016 with the combination of iOS, android and Win32 app porting hopefully in full swing, a growth in the universal apps portfolio and the conditioning effects of the Start menu, Microsoft may be better positioned to take a more aggressive stance in mobile. “ . "That said the Windows 10 Start menu is designed to accomplish what is arguably the most difficult challenge for Microsoft. Conditioning the human mind to like something either unfamiliar or disliked." In that excerpt I clearly assert a need for a truly innovative flagship, more apps that will come through the porting tools for iOS, android and Win32 and a greater pool of universal apps. As you can also see I acknowledge that there a many barriers to Windows phone adoption but this area of the Start menu is designed to help address one of those areas that of the lack of familiarity. Again there is no claim in this piece that the start menu is the be all and end all to drawing and retaining users. As the areas I point out show that I acknowledge. The title is also clear that in that I point out that the Start menu may "help". This is just one piece addressing the potential purpose of one aspect challenging, in high I do acknowledge other challenges. Thanks for the input!:-)
  • Couple problem with your analysis. Microsoft's telemetry showed people aren't using the start menu much anymore. My own experience support that. People tend to pin their most used apps to the desktop or taskbar. They only access the start menu when they need some miscellaneous app they don't use much. The start screen did hide the desktop and there was no taskbar. So, people didn't feel like they had access to their frequently used apps even though you were supposed to pin you most used apps to the start screen and it was meant to replace the desktop. Also, you are assume that people didn't accept the windows phone because of the tile ui. I think they didn't accept it because it didn't have developer support. It came 3 years late and you had 2 established ecosystems. Developers weren't willing to support a third one that was new with not much marketshare. If Windows phone came out before android, I bet you would have a completly different story.
  • Whatever other people say windows 10 start menu sucks, because there's no keyboard shortcut to find local files easily.
  • And one more thing to not underestimate is that people change their phone more often than they do their PC. Add to this the fact that phones are, for many people, a fashion statement then consider that the masses are used to follow trends like sheeps when they're convince that this or that is the next big thing... So, if the average joe starts to get convinced that Windows 10 Mobile is good to get things done and is the next big thing thanks to Windows 10's success, then W10M may succeed where WP8 failed.
  • True
  • This is genius article
  • Dont really use the start menu. Its there sure but only thing I do from there is starting netflix and clicking the shut down botton.
    Since there is a file explorer icon in the task bar I dont see the point in heaving A start menu anymore.
  • I mean its not even A real start menu. Its just I thing to starr apps from now.
    Instead of "computer" or " workplace ( xp ) " it has A file explorer now totally useless, given the fact that the start menu should give quick access to the most imortant part of the system. Win 7 had the best start menu and windows 10 just needed A way to tell ppl " this aint windows 8 ... This one has A start menu "
  • Great article, but one thing I don't understand about use of Live Tiles on Windows, and remaining consistent with your theme, Jason, over a billion users have also been conditioned for 2 things: Icons can go on the Start Menu and on the Desktop (interchangeable location) The desktop is our background view for whatever stuff we're supposed to see in the background Plus a smaller but still large number of users already knowing: Whether Icons or Live Tiles -- these are meant to launch apps Windows 7 included gadgets for weather, news, etc. Why oh why can we not put Live Tiles on the Desktop, just like we can with icons? This would be far more logical and useful and consistent with conditioning, would it not? How is it useful to have a Live Tile in the Start Menu, given that you can't see the content of the Live Tiles unless you open the Start Menu, which completely misses the entire point of Live Tiles presenting information at a glance? Or, in the spirit of providing choice to users, why not at least provide an option to put Live Tiles on the Desktop in addition to the Start Menu? Live Tiles have all the benefits of the old wimpy Gadgets and then some, plus they can do everything that Icons have always done -- launch apps. To not allow them on the Desktop where we can leave them in an open space (especially relevant for those of us running multiple-monitor configurations where we never fill all of the screens with applications), check the weather or news headlines or other app updates at any time without taking the cursor or focus out of the current program (by looking at the Live Tile on the Desktop) but then click on the Live Tile for more details by opening the program... well that would be perfect. Am I missing something? This seems so obvious to me. Yet as far as I know, this is not an option. Please help me understand why this is not at least an option.
  • I completely agree with you! Live Tiles on the desktop would be fantastic and I hope that Microsoft will do this soon. I submitted this suggestion in the Windows Feedback app a few weeks ago so hopefully it will get enough votes to get the company's attention to make it a priority.
  • Yes, I think windows 10 is pretty much what you see is what you get now.Its is for the masses and business to get used to the OS. They've struck a balance between tablet and desktop but is currently skewed more towards supporting a more balanced desktop experience and putting tablet and immersive app experiences on the side lines with the help of a tablet mode button. I think there is a far better balance that can be created bewteen desktop and tablet mode. I agree that the key lies with the live tiles section of the startmenu. It shouldn't be hidden anymore but be part of a more immersive full screen experience. The desktop as we know it with pinnable shortcuts should be replaced with the more versatile and multifunctional live tiles.I think that would give it a more polished and comprehensive experience.
  • Jason ward!
    Very nice article... Loved the way u presented it..... Keep it up
  • @sam6681 Thanks Sam I appreciate that. Please share with others.:-)
  • Good article, Jason! I think that while the matter of just how successful Windows will really be remains to be seen, I think that your assessment of the strategy in play, and the present and future situation is pretty spot on. Let's hope it works. Now I want to spend the rest of my comment speaking to all the comments out there (and their authors) along the lines of - and/or in the spirit of "sounds like a perfect solution for Windows to kill itself": 1) I find it amazing that when Windows 8 came out, pretty much everyone hated it, and yet, most of the anti-10 vitriol we see here are from the pro-8 lunatic fringe. There really aren't a lot of Windows 7 people bellyaching about 10, big picture. Mostly they're okay with it. It's the 8'ers who are the haters. That's not only really surprising to me...but it also rhymes! :-) 2) I know some people absolutely love Windows 8, and I neither fault them nor begrudge them this. Subjective tastes are subjective tastes. I myself certainly don't hate 8. I don't love it, but I don't hate it. There were several things I liked about it, and it had a very admirable avant garde adventurism to it. However, from a dollars and cents perspective, Windows 8 desktop has been a relative failure, while Windows 8 mobile has been a serious failure. The state of Windows 8 mobile is WORSE than it was a year ago, and only declining. Even 8 desktop isn't really gaining much market share ground, and is itself not long from being eclipsed by the apparently dreaded, wicked, evil, nasty 10. So, whatever the solution is to Microsoft's current market hardships [and let me all-caps here for perfect Bose clarity and fidelity] IT IS ---NOT--- GOING TO BE TO THROW MORE 8 (OR ANYTHING LIKE 8) AT THE PROBLEM!!!..so shut up about 8, people! 3) I know some people who love 7, who intend to hold out as long as they can, saying "a pox [in a box, with a fox] on both your houses" to 8 and 10. Now it's between you, God and the NSA whether or not you think 7 is the pinnacle of all things paned glass. Indeed, I think just about 100% of us would agree that at a minimum, Windows 7 was phenomenal for its time! However, Windows 7 is...well...about seven years old, is very dated looking (with Vista's Aero aesthetic, which is now pushing 9yrs old), and is more or less entirely a time piece of what computing was that long time ago. Also, in a world where Windows 7 has a commanding lead over any other platform on the market, PC sales in general are on the decline, and Apple is taking an ever bigger slice of that pie...yes, pun intended. So, once again, whatever the solution is to Microsoft's current market hardships [and let me one again bring this to you in Bose] IT IS ---NOT--- GOING TO BE TO THROW MORE 7 (OR ANYTHING LIKE 7) AT THE PROBLEM!!!..so shut up about 7, people! Here now is Windows 10, which attempts to, in part, marry what was best about 7 and 8, in part, blaze an entirely new trail, and in part, to raise its flagging phone presence through ways that Jason discussed. It may fail, or it may succeed. But either way, it's probably the last great and only hope for Windows Mobile. And even on desktop, it's probably what's going to make the difference between a Windows revival, or a continual slow decline. I think it's wonderful! Jason thinks it's wonderful. Most of the people using it think it's wonderful. It's only a small minority of disgruntled loudmouths making themselves a rowdy majority on places like the Windows Central comments sections that seem to have a problem. And yet, when you distill what they say down to its most basic compound, it ALWAYS comes down to "give us 8" or "give us 7", when we've been over why something so backwards thinking won't work. I don't begrudge anyone their feelings on what was the Windows "golden age"...but as a matter of following that as the course of the operating system? Well, I thought the golden age was Windows 3.1...uh oh, now what do we do? To those so damned sure 10 will result in death, disaster, demise, doom, dentist appointments, and any other unhappy words beginning with D, what do you propose OTHER THAN the fruitless trumpeting of "bring back 7" / "bring back 8" you've been blasting this whole time? Jason and I are all ears. The legions of satisfied-to-elated Windows 10 users are all ears. Thanks to the Insider Program, Microsoft is all ears. What have you got for us? Anything? Or is this just butt hurt time, and we're all ears listening to all asses? You have the floor. Meanwhile, keep up the good work, Jason!!! In the now famous words of April O'Neal from the now infamous 1989 NES TMNT game, "You have my support." :-) Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  •    If Nadella manages to pull this off, I'm going to start calling him the Emperor.
  • MS will never get the kind of momentum that is behind android and ios. that race is over and they have lost so where can they be relevant? they can hide in a niche like surface pro or do something bolder. The answer is dual boot, if they pushed every android maker to get their devices to dual boot between android and windows 10 then they would have a chance.  have recently gotten a chinese dual boot tablet and all i can say is wow. having the ability to android or windows when you want takes away all the problems of being locked into one OS brings. something doesnt work well? reboot and do it another way.. fantastic. 
  • As of 2019, the Start menu is almost two decades old!