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Windows 10 live tiles may not be long for this world, new Start Menu could be imminent

Windows 10x Start
Windows 10x Start (Image credit: Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Windows 10's live tiles could be removed soon as part of a redesign of the Start Menu.
  • A report claims that static icons could replace live tiles in the upcoming Windows 10 20H2 update.
  • We first explored if Microsoft was moving away from live tiles last year when a new Start Menu leaked.

The upcoming Windows 10X operating system features a redesigned Start Menu and static icons rather than live tiles. Now, it seems that Windows 10 might receive a redesign in the same direction. A report from Windows Latest states that Microsoft is planning to replace live tiles within the Start Menu. The move would line Windows 10 up with Windows 10X and allow Microsoft to use its redesigned icons in Windows 10's Start Menu.

Windows Latest cites "people familiar with the development" of Windows who stated that "Microsoft is planning to replace live tiles with icons in a future update after Windows 10's 20H2 release." If those reports are accurate, live tiles could be on their way out in 2020 or 2021.

Early last year, our senior editor Zac Bowden asked if Windows 10's live tiles were dead since they hadn't received updates for a significant amount of time. This question gained more fuel when a leaked build from last year showed a Start Menu with static icons rather than live tiles. That leak led our senior editor Zac Bowden to explore why Microsoft was considering pivoting away from live tiles. Now, it seems even more likely that Microsoft will scrap live tiles.

Microsoft recently redesigned its vast library of apps icons. These "icons of the future" extend across platforms and add depth over their flat predecessors. If live tiles are on the way out, Microsoft has prepared for the switch with these new icons that follow Microsoft's Fluent Design language. Some of these icons appear in the preview of Windows 10X, so we could have a glimpse of what Windows 10's Start Menu could look like without live tiles.

Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com (opens in new tab).

96 Comments
  • Static icons seem like such a step backward. I'd prefer further development such as interactive & exploding live tiles.
  • Indeed, this is a huge step backwards. And why exactly? Who knows, I haven't come across a persuasive reason for doing away with the glanceability that live tiles offer.
  • No one uses them and they're not useful in a hidden menu. Most live tiles are already static icons because developers don't support the feature.
  • I use them and find the useful. They'd be even more useful if you could put them on the desktop.
  • Am I wrong or doesn't putting anything on the desktop create drag on system resources? I keep it clean and rely on start..
  • Time to switch to SSD.
  • Well technically there is an impact in the system resources, but it should be minimal. If the implementation is smart, Live Tiles will not updates in the background if it's covered by a window or running a full screen game. There are ways to optimise it. Also most likely most people will not pin too many stuff on the desktop. For those who do will be really minority and may have beefy PC tk begin with. Negates the concern of system resource consumption.
  • We had those in Win 7. They were called Gadgets. A little more like Android Widgets, than MS Live tiles, but still glance-able useful information.
    I use lots of Live Tiles on my Surface Go, but then, I leave it in Tablet mode. So it is more like Windows Phone, where the live tiles are what I see when I log on.
    Tablet mode would be neutered if live tiles go away. I'd have an iPad with dead icons at that point.
  • Windows has a notification center now. The original point of Live Tiles was to act as a notification center. They were a poor experience and are no longer needed now that Windows has actual notifications.
  • Notifications and live tiles are not the same. Notifications cannot show my upcoming events, a live tile can (and does). They also can show my to-do list, current weather and a forecast, sports results, etc. Notifications can't.
    Besides, a start menu that allows you to pin tiles of different sizes to it, is much easier to navigate than a grid of icons. This was actually the reasoning--supported by research--behind MS's decision to introduce the modern start menu.
    And nobody forces anyone to use tiles on windows, not since windows 8 was upgraded to 8.1. If you prefer not to use them, you do not have to.
  • True, but Live Tiles and widgets provide information that are not 'immediate', means it can show information where if you use notification system for that, you will get bombarded with notifications filling up the notification center. Live Tiles provide a separate home for information meant for passive and dashboard-like. So both can complement with each other when is done well. Widgets is better than Live Tiles when it regards to utility, which allows user to interact to the information or do quick task without opening the app. Allows you to browse through unread emails, check through YouTube videos, check appointments for today, check to-do list, etc. Widgets should replace Live Tiles which what it should be its evolution through Interactive Live Tiles.
  • I use them for Calendar, ToDo, Weather, and MyRadar. And I like badges (not sure this is live tile related) on Mail and Your Phone to know when I have new emails or texts.
  • Notification Badgers is likely be implemented later, it is not present in current build in Windows 10 X. It would be very stupid to not even have this feature at all.
  • This is what I always keep hearing. None of them are valid reasons. Obviously there are people using it. This is the worst bool sheet I have ever heard. But sure there's some telemetry based on what Microsoft keeps pulling features from Windows. But then again as I said earlier, why not remove task scheduler? "Nobody" uses it.
    Only if there was a way to open a hidden menu. I guess there is simply no way to select a second-level menu option either, as they are hidden. Sounds like hidden menus need to go away. But seriously, this is an already solved issue. I simply don't get, what is said here.
    Developers don't even need to support it, so that they work. It's only Microsoft that was incapable of putting effort in them, so they do.
    And not all apps need to support them. It's up to you to select what apps you are expecting to show the inner info already. Too many of them can be a burden, but it comes very handy in numerous cases. Just wait and see how Microsoft will try to find a way to bring back widgets of some kind in an awful presentation to do the same.
    So in a nutshell nobody is expecting all developers to support live tiles. But this is simply a feature used and taken away. And it's pathetic that a new Microsoft wannabe a service provider to have their apps and services used no matter the platform cannot keep supporting its own feature at least on its own platform.
  • Well said, well said
  • You right, they are on a hidden start menu and might be useful on tablet mode, i would say ok for static if they add kind of widgets to desktop with 10x.
  • I agree with you. Like a couple of comments in this post, I do use Live Tiles for weather, news and emails. It would have been nice to see MS evolve this feature and leave it as an option. But, from a perspective of business, they may be trying to avoid causing developers and users from shying away from devices like the Neo and Duo. Consumers and Devs have been butt hurt with the lack of support, for whatever reason, from all sides. I'm sure data plays a part in this, too.
  • Yeah, they could just separate Live Tiles away from the Start Menu and keep the grid of icons alone. Evolve them into Widgets or Cards similar to Microsoft Launcher, which is one of the reason why I use that Launcher. iPadOS even have Widgets always visible in the home screen, while Windows 10 X who is primarily designed for dual screen cannot accommodate a similar feature.
  • Widgets are supported by many Launchers on Android. No need to use Microsoft Launcher. Launcher 10 not only features live tiles information shown simply read from notification content, but it also allows free tile resize, alpha editing and mixing in widgets the way you like among your live tiles. I was hoping to like Microsoft Launcher, but I quickly found it as dull as most of the Android launchers.
  • Yeah, well Android Widgets are native, but the Cards, Microsoft Launcher's own Widget isn't native. But I like its aesthetic better than most Widgets you can download since mixing them all up doesn't look so consistent with different sizes, shapes, colours, etc. So I was hoping that Microsoft would taken a cue from Live Tiles but create a Widgets that are all cards like in MS Launcher. This way we have Widgets but similar in consistency like Live Tiles. Except this time, they don't replace icons but complementary of it on a separate pane or on desktop/homescreen. But yeah MS Launcher is not that too different from most Android Launchers and I think it's intentional for familiarity and consistency in the platform. I also tried Launcher 10 and some others that also mimics Live Tiles, even dated back to 2011. They are highly customisable, though some are not as polished. Actually the bug thing why I use MS Launcher is that support of Timeline. Since there are no launchers or Widgets that reads Windows Timeline, I use MS Launcher now. Without it, I will use some other Launchers.
  • Well Live Tiles date back to Windows Phone 7. They aren't modern.
  • Well, icons date back to Win 3.0
  • Live tiles should remain as an option at the very least.
  • I agree, let those that want them keep them.
  • Microsoft and options doesn't go along... same happened on win8, people asked to choose between full screen start screen or regular start menu (like the one we saw in Win8RT Update 3)
  • That Win8RT Start Menu came way too late. Damage has been done though.
  • They require the app developer to support them, which just isn't happening. Waste of Microsoft's time to keep them.
  • And again Microsoft is requiring them. Not Live Tiles.
  • At least give us the option to choose. It's not like they are mutually exclusive right?? If a user wants their static grid, then let them have it, but please leave the option of live tiles for those of us that want it. Regardless of 'popular' opinion or whatever telemetry MS collects, I rely on live tiles a lot, use it all the time - news, mail, calendar, weather. Please leave the option for users to choose.
  • I guess telemetry is collected based on the users who leave everything default on their system, such as authorization for Microsoft to collect telemetry.
  • Sad but somewhat predictable. I found most live tiles just ended up showing random information that you couldn't get more information from, but it did look pleasant. Devs also didnt seem to embrace it much either. Maybe it'll pop its head back up sometime in the future or transform into something else rather than just disappearing altogether.
  • It should simply be left as an option. There's really no need to completely eliminate it. For the devs and apps that do make use of it, it is really useful - calendar, mail, news and weather are particularly useful for live tiles
  • Yeah it's been like this for a while, even Microsoft treats it like it doesn't exist either. To Do for example didn't have Live Tile for a long time and only recently it was implemented. I rather just have Windows 10 X a widget like on Android, Microsoft Launcher, and iPadOS. But looking at it, Microsoft doesn't have no intention anymore, at least we don't know if they are working on it or not.
  • Yes, I don't see how it's any better. Who is going to support widgets if live tiles were a no go? And the fact that even Microsoft treated it as if it did not exist, and it still works untouched for the same apps, that it is really a feature that takes 0 effort to maintain.
  • I agree that many live tiles could be better utilized. Mail, Facebook, should show the most recent e-mail/update, not some random item that could be from days ago. Things like news should be deep linked so you could tap when something of interest roll by and go straight to that article. Sad part is MS is no better at making Live Tiles really useful than anyone else. Would be sad to see them go but if they are just going to fester....
  • I don't mind this as long as there's some sort of replacement, like the widget system in Android. People aren't going to stop needing their information at a glance, whether it's on desktop or mobile. But it looks like there's no replacement. Am I to keep the weather, mail, calendar, to-do, news and other apps open all the time? That's not going to work. Leave the Chromebooks to 8-year-olds. I want an operating system for grown-ups with jobs.
  • Me too, I'm perfectly okay not having Live Tiles, but at least a replacement or something better. A Widgets or Card system similar to Microsoft Launcher will do. This way, people can still have a gird of icons while some users can pin a widget to their desktop. It's win-win and unlike in Windows 10 where Live Tiles is hidden in Start Menu. If Widgets are pinned to desktop like on Android and iPadOS/iOS does, then it has more use since you can glance info and interact from them everytime you see the desktop, instead of just wallpaper. With dual-screen, this is more useful.
  • Even MacOS has widgets on the notification center. I wouldn't be mad at all if Microsoft ripped them off on that.
  • Microsoft already has Windows 10 for productivity and it is almost unbeatable. They don't have anything to compete with eaay to use, everyday devices like iPad and Chromebooks though.
  • Live tiles give a brilliant overview of what's going on in YOUR world. Just a 'me too' offering without it.
  • Static menue is ok if they bring back the Widgets you could keep on your screen. Those were awesome in so many ways!
  • We went back to the old days not to the future, I have people in my office that will not be able to see these new things. They have wall to wall files on their computers and no matter how often I tell them the computer looks them every time they sign on so that they complain about it. Come on Microsoft continue to go towards the light not back to the dark ages
  • It seems old ppl are always ruining everything... 🙄
  • I just hope they keep the full screen Start menu. I've gotten used to it and would hate to lose it.
  • Back to rainmeter I guess. Is that still around?
  • I think still is, since enthusiasts still like to use it. So on Windows 10 Desktop, there might be a increase use of it again for those who like Live Tiles. It may not really be like Live Tiles, but a least for few functionalities like Weather, Mail, News. People will have some option I guess.
  • live tiles cards widgets on the desktop!!
  • I liked live tiles and would hate to see them replaced by something that seems backwards-thinking.
    Heck, even Apple is recognizing the need for something beyond static icons in bigger form factors.
    So, what's the play here? To replace them with something that already feels dated? And while we're at it, can we discuss how dated some of the new icons look? They're not well designed at all. They don't feel harmonious, they color palette is a mess and the general shapes are all over the place. I don't get it, Microsoft has great designers, so how did they let this slip?
  • They should have killed Live Tiles when WP7 flopped. Sticking with it 10 years later was a huge mistake. People do not like them, that has been proven by the failure of WP7, WP8, W8, and W10M. Luckily they are hidden in W10 so as to not destroy it too. The biggest mistake Microsoft made was continuing that UI after WP7 was so poorly received.
  • WP7 wasn’t a miss because ppl didn’t like the UI. To the contrary. Most people liked the UI but it always lacked the environment of apps available on the other platforms.
  • Yeah, I knew few of my friends and family members who got Lumia back in the day and they don't mind the difference in UI. The problem they had with it is the apps and games. It's either not there or not as full featured like on iOS and Android. Facebook app are the prominent example which people use all the time.
  • There were a few reasons WP7 failed and the UI was definitely one of them. It failed so hard they should have changed everything about it, especially the interface.
  • You really do not know what you are talking about.
  • It's Bleached. Are you surprised? Everything out of their mouth is misinformed anti-Microsoft drivel.
  • Live Tiles were one of the features that made Windows Phone/mobile so efficient to use, but I have not found them to be of any great use on the desktop...
  • Me too, loved it on the phone, never use it on my laptops or desktops, funnily enough I spend all my time staring at maximised applications - Word, Excel, Visual Studio and SQL Server, never even noticed the icons, perhaps the only live tile I would use, would live in the taskbar, but that probably wouldn't be big enough to be useful for more than counters. The only time I've used live tiles on a computer, is when an article like this comes out and you go and check to see if you do have some, and yes I've got 3 out of around 50 icons, the photos app, news app and my HP printer, not even the weather app is using a live tile, so quite clearly they're not being used to their full at all. Even our VOIP phone app, doesn't use a live tile, but does tell you about missed calls in the taskbar icon.
  • Even on desktop you could think of Live Tiles as silent notifications. But instead of having to go through all your notifications to see what is going on, you could simply fire up your start menu. (that I use full screen) and check with your eye on the exact location that you got used to. It has less use on a desktop environment, agreed, but reading the info on the live tile still takes less effort than firing up the application or skimming through notifications. I wonder for example, how pinning playlists from Spotify or myTube would work without live tiles? Would they suddenly all have the same couple pixel size icons?
  • I loved live tiles when we had a working people hub in Windows phone 8.1. On the PC I don't actually open the start menu much. The way things are devolving at Microsoft, they will likely replace the start menu with a command line or the whole thing with Linux.
  • Personally I feel Live Tile really only worked/made sense for a small subset of apps. E.g. Weather. For the most part it just resulted in me taking an extra few seconds to identify the application I wanted to open. Regarding new icon designs, adding color to them makes sense. The generic plain white ones were never a good idea for app developers to embrace. It eroded their ability to establish a brand identity/stand out. I recall emailing an app developer about it and recommending they add some color to their icon so that their app stood out more and they were like, nope I'm sticking to MS design guideline.... I pointed out at the time Office's icons weren't following such guidelines but they still couldn't see the benefits...
  • One of the brilliant aspects of Live Tiles which not many people mention is the ability to have different sizes. As a result, I can visually prioritise certain apps over others. For example, my Mail tile is large so I can see the live content and because I use the app a lot but the weather app is at the medium size so I see a quick summary. I have drawing apps grouped together as small tiles next to other creative apps I use more often as larger tiles. I do a similar thing with messaging apps. It's a far quicker (and visually pleasing) way to navigate than just a grid of multi-coloured icons.
  • Yes, absolutely! I still use tile sizes and full screen start on windows 10.
  • I would be sad to see live tiles go away, yes they only are really supported by a few apps - the calendar, weather, and news, but that's all I really need. Generally I do most of my work from the keyboard so use shortcuts and start apps by typing into the start menu. If I'm typing in one app and need to quickly make a note, it's faster for me to hit the windows key > note > enter to start up notepad vs switching to the mouse and clicking a pinned icon in the taskbar. I'll admit I have customized by start menu, but rarely ever actually click any tiles. Still, being able to tap the win key twice for a quick glance at my calendar, the upcoming weather, and latest headline is much more efficent than starting up a dedicated app or navigating to a web page for me. I works as a nice reminder too since I'm always in an out of the start menu. I guess desktop widgets would be the alternative, but I think they look messy on the desktop, where the start menu is hidden and a keystoke away
  • It can be messy in the desktop, but if it looks like Cards like on Microsoft Launcher, and they are restricted by grid system so they don't like an overlapping mess. I think it will at least looks okay. Most likely users will pin like 4 to 10 Widgets. Since it is not a Live Tiles which is still a way to launch apps. You don't need alot of Widgets to be pinned and only you thin you need a glancable info or quick interactions.
  • Live tiles we just starting to get better. The Mail and Calendar app updates instantly with the latest version.
  • Personally, I wouldn't mind more being done with the old Windows Gadgets on the Desktop. Easier to see at a glance instead of having to hit the Start Menu first to get to a live tile. https://www.windowscentral.com/e?link=https2F%2Fclick.linksynergy.co...
  • Only that you first need to minimize all of the opened apps, and for this your need to make click in the right corner of the taskbar, so your are in the same situation, you need to make the very hard work to make a click in both cases.
  • Not a fan of this move. I think live tiles are innovative and cool...static icons feel like a step back and make it seem more like Android or iOS.
  • This doesn't really bother me personally. The first thing I always do with every windows install is to remove every single tile from the start menu. Then pin all the programs I use to the taskbar. I prefer the classic start menu alphabetical program list.
  • This is fine, we can have both. Just give users options is all. If a user wants static icons, that's fine, if they want live tiles, then let them have it. Both icon styles can coexist.
  • Why bother supporting a feature that a very small percentage of users took advantage of? Microsoft sees how many people used Live Tiles. If they were popular, this would be a different conversation.
  • The code has already been written and is pretty mature. They should just leave it in place. At least I (and probably others as well) use it all the time - mail, calendar, weather, news, reddit (redd planet), youtube (mytube), newsflow, even windows central app. Yes it may not be ultra popular, but it really useful to those of us that make use of it.
  • But why fragment the UI and OS just to please a small percentage? I like the Live Tiles too, but lets be real here: we are in the minority. Time to scrap the features that people aren't using and keep the ones people are. Windows won't move forward at all if Microsoft tries to continue forcing the adoption of a feature people don't use. It's like trying to get people to use Segways when people prefer to walk.
  • For them to put them in the new UI, it would take work and everytime you want to update it will require more testing to make sure you didn't break them. Not worth the time for a feature very few people used.
  • Because that is what makes Windows suitable for such a wide variety of people and use cases. The wide variety of options and choices and personalization is what makes it universally acceptable. If you only keep what 75, 85, 95% of people use, you would have very little left.
  • @SvenJ "If you only keep what 75, 85, 95% of people use, you would have very little left" That makes no sense at all. What you would have is a W10 free of bloat and unwanted/unused apps and features.
    It would be lean, mean and hugely popular and would also help to reduce the many bugs MS introduce with every update.
  • Think about it. Take Word for instance. How many use VBA to extend it. 30%? Gone. How many use auto paragraph numbering? 25%, Gone. Mail Merge? 50%, Gone. If you only keep the things the majority of people use, you wind up with all the basic features everyone needs...you get WordPad. Same with the OS. What's the percentage of people who ink? less than 75%? Gone. How many actually use multi-touch, gone. Set multiple time zones? Gone. I agree there are unwanted apps and little used features, but I guarantee there are a significant number of folks out there that like them or use them. Maybe not in percentages, but certainly in raw numbers.
  • @SvenJ All of those little used but important features for some can be added with add-on packs through the Store.
    No need to weigh down the basic W10 Home with those features.
  • By that argument, why have accessibility options? I bet more people use Live Tiles than some of those... I am red/greed colorblind. A sea of icons is nearly useless to me. Different sized, larger tiles full of information are significantly beneficial versus static icons.
  • @noirsoft As I stated to SvenJ above, those features can be installed from the Store with add-on packs. That will keep the basic W10 Home lean, mean, fast and mostly bug free which would be a welcome change from what is happening these days.
  • Very Unfortunate. I like the live tile start menu. And I especially like full screen start menu in tablet mode!
  • It's things like this that I think Microsoft will never ever have a place in mobile space. They simply change vision too often. This was nothing more than the idiotic idea of a designer probably paid tons of money, working on iOS and MacOS to prepare the plans. It is things like this that I am not expecting to see anything useful in mobile space from Microsoft. They fail to deliver the exact same set of features on Android and iOS as well in their apps that they managed to provide on Windows Mobile 10. Every app is a step taken forward and two back. It was fun hearing Daniel and Zac lamenting about Microsoft and Panos working on a wearable of some kind. Honestly I can't see that happening. Also it should not happen. A company that manages to shut down its Microsoft Band service instead of keeping it alive until an alternative is offered... That is the way to go to kill off the last instincts of developers, users and to stop receiving any kind of telemetry, experience in a field, and to lose touch with reality. It is after these hit resets that a brilliant idea is born; getting rid of live tiles. It's not hit refresh, it's simply burn bridges. That way nobody will ever think again if anything was ever good or even better.
  • Too often? Live Tiles were from 2010! A full decade of failure!
  • You can keep saying failure, but then again, why are so many people upset about it. It's an untrue statement. And Live Tiles going away is only one vision changed. Think about Windows 8, then 8.1 then 10, then Windows mobile 8, Mobile 10, then Lumia, then Fluent design, then dark mode, then 3D for everyone, then Video editing in Windows 10, then UWP, then cancelling Edge HTML, then light theme, then PWA, Cortana repositioning, then Live Tiles going away, then Androidifying things, then Start menu changing. And we are talking about the course of less then a decade. How on earth is Microsoft expecting developers to come and keep them along the way? I myself found it hard to simply maintain my apps so that they could keep the same set of features, up until the time, I simply gave up. I saw and still cannot see a ROI when coming dowm to develop anything on the Microsoft platforms hyped at some moment in time. They will simply come to an end after two years or so, by the time one would manage to have developed something mature.
  • A few fanboys are upset. You won't find any mention of this from anyone else. You can't see any ROI on Microsoft platforms because they were mediocre compared to the competition and were sales flops. A big reason for this is they stuck with an interface that wasn't popular for so long. After the WP7 disaster, they should have switched to what was working for Android. A simple, open platform that put all the power in the OEMs and users hands. Locking everyone into a polarizing interface was a huge mistake.
  • Sad. :( Live Tiles were/are a great idea and could have been more useful than Android Widgets with just a few more tweaks.
  • A widget can be almost anything, including a Live Tile. The best Microsoft could do is match Android's widgets.
  • I REALLY hope this isn't the case, if they do, then maybe make the start menu have widgets like the Microsoft Launcher's glance pane, otherwise all the insightful things that the tiles provided and helped me a lot will be no more and will struggle a bit to keep updated on several things...
  • Great. Modernise the Start Menu.
  • Would be cool if they made the icons dynamic. For the weather app, the icon updates with the current condition and temperature. For mail, displays amount of unread, etc...
  • Oh, like live tiles, but more like Android widgets. But, on the desktop, to be covered up by windows and other icons/shortcuts..or on a start menu that is personally selectable as full screen or pop up.
  • Sure. Why not all those?
  • In the comments, it's a step backward.
    It's very nice, maybe tiles must be used differents (frame, tactile) or elsewere (historic of office in taskbar, cool function).
    I think it's not good to make them disappear completely.
  • The problem with tiles, it's confusion between functions, apps, sites.
  • Welcome to Windows 11, then
  • With live tiles, you can change size.
  • Darn. Another Windows feature I actually like, getting killed.