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Windows 11 Start menu's new options aren't enough to save it, according to Windows Central readers

Windows 11 Start Hero Surface Book
Windows 11 Start Hero Surface Book (Image credit: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft recently debuted a new option to customize an aspect of the Windows 11 Start menu.
  • We ran a poll to find out if readers thought this adequately ended the "W11 Start menu needs work" discussion.
  • As it turns out, a majority of readers still aren't content with Microsoft's output.

The Windows 11 Start menu has been a source of debate for many power users who feel it strips them of the customizability and freedom previous Windows offerings afforded. It seems Microsoft heard the complaint on some level, as in its 22509 Windows 11 build, it added the ability for interested users to do a small bit of customization with the Start menu. The question was: Did the change absolve Microsoft of any further obligation, or was there more work to be done on the menu?

As far as our readers are concerned, the answer is that the company has more work to do. At the time of this writing, out of well over a thousand votes, 71.21% (809 votes) declared that Microsoft's job wasn't done yet and it needed to keep working on the Start menu. Meanwhile, 14.79% said the new options were satisfactory, and a clean 14% of respondents went with the "why make so much fuss about a Start menu in the first place?" choice.

Given these results, it seems that hate for the Start menu isn't over yet, nor are arguments regarding why people should or shouldn't care about the topics in the first place. There is a large contingent of people who posit that if Windows 11's design isn't your cup of tea, you should stick to Windows 10. A common retort to such a remark is that Windows 11 needs to be adjusted so that when Windows 10 falls out of support, power users aren't left dealing with a Start menu they can't stand.

Robert Carnevale is the News Editor for Windows Central. He's a big fan of Kinect (it lives on in his heart), Sonic the Hedgehog, and the legendary intersection of those two titans, Sonic Free Riders. He is the author of Cold War 2395. Have a useful tip? Send it to robert.carnevale@futurenet.com.

28 Comments
  • Windows central readers please do not destroy this like you did to windows 7 that was a great operating system in great stock menu this one is looking to be just about as good give it time to mature.
  • How, uh, exactly did Windows Central readers singlehandedly destroy a facet of Windows 7?
  • I doubt Microsoft based their UI decision making from the single tech news site alone. Also Windows 7 Start menu were at least bit more feature like Jump List on pinned apps, full drag-and-drop support, and better integrated search experience. Compared to Windows 11 which basically just a grid of icons but lesser flexibility and less features. Even iOS and Android homescreen got more features these days, which somehow always gets compared to "mobile" OS experience, even though both of those features already beyond than just grid of icons.
  • I don't know about you all but I love windows 10 start menu with live tiles more than windows 11 start menu
  • Agreed! Was customizable to suite the majority of users.
  • That's a popular stance around these parts of the web.
  • You might have but the majority of Windows users A: Didn't care B: Will prefer the Windows 11 Start Menu. Why? Because if you didn't bother to customise the Windows 10 Start Menu, few do, it looks like a cluttered and date mess.
  • Spot on. Most businesses users don't use start menu but pin app to the task bar. I do use it but for me now I have setup my windows 11 menu how I want it prefer it to 10s. Only issue is not being able to put them as folders. For example games. But sure that will come like it did in 10.
  • How did you customize it there is nothing to customize all you can do is pin apps and that's it
  • At work the majority of stuff is on the desktop, including shortcuts to websites we use.
    The only one that is not on the desktop which is strange is word, I have to always press the windows key and type it in. Not that I use word very often, but now and again I use it for doing notices on stuff.
  • How did you know the majority of windows users didn't care ? Have you seen their start menu
  • bluesam, while I customized the Windows 10 Start menu, and you may have too, we are in the minority per Microsoft's report on the data. On that particular point, bradavon is correct. The majority of users never changed the default, out-of-the box Start layout, or made a few changes when they first used Windows and then left it alone after that. However, beyond that, he draws the wrong conclusions from that one data point. I would say that an OS can't only work for whatever the majority uses, because there are a lot of different minority use cases that add up to many, many millions of users.
  • bradavon, you are correct that most users didn't care. That does not translate to most preferring Windows 11. Not caring = not caring. The problem with Windows 11 Start for me is that it adds minutes of work per day. That means it's not just a cosmetic problem, it's a time killer. I'm confident that was not Microsoft's intent, so articles like this that promote the concerns that apply to many of us, even if only a minority, are helpful to get MS to make the changes that restore needed functionality.
  • I never liked the tile thing, when it came in Windows 8, I did not like it then, or on the Windows phones, not that I had one of them. When they transferred the tiles to Windows 10 but as a menu, I was not impressed, which is why I went for a third party start menu and still use it now.
    I like the look of Windows 11 start menu, but it does need changes.
  • I´ll stick to Win10 as long as they don´t give that Start Menu and Taskbar as an option in Win11.
  • Save it from what? Lol....
  • I like the new Start Menu but unpinning Settings is a mistake. It used to be in a consistent place, now it's a pinned app. And removing Jump Lists from Start Menu pinned app is annoying. You now have to open the app if it's not pinned to your Taskbar.
  • Totally agree on Jump Lists. That's a bizarre removal that I have to believe will be fixed in an upcoming update. Even Windows 7 app icons in Start supported Jump Lists, if I recall correctly.
  • Live Tiles looked dated when they debuted on Windows Phone 7 back in 2011. Good riddance.
  • Static icons look dated. I remember them from Windows 3.1.
  • Did you use a Windows Phone? I don't believe any significant % users thought that. Live Tiles look poor in static photos (like a bunch of dull squares and rectangles), which I suspect serves the basis for your opinion. That's because the whole "Live" aspect is lost in a static photo. On the actual screen, they were incredibly useful and dynamically beautiful. For all Windows Phone's problems, Live Tiles on the home screen was not one of them (even among the critical reviewers who told people to avoid it, they generally praised that feature).
  • Has anyone here ever noticed that most polls boil down to 25% of the respondents being completely out of touch, no matter what the question is? Look for this trend.
  • I personally don't care. I'm a power user but I pin every app I use often to the task bar and then use the search to find any one off when I need it. and by search I mean I run power toys and use the windows key+space bar rip off of spotlight search from MacOS. Based on the users I support they will probably like the windows 11 way more. seems like everyone I support just clicks the search icon and runs whatever recent apps are there or opens whatever recent docs are there. which looks exactly like the windows 11 start menu. a lot of them really have no idea what you mean by start menu. they just search. and we're talking about lawyers and engineers and directors
  • As a power user who uses over 100 apps, and need regular access to about 60, with 80 pinned to my Start Menu in organized groups so I can find them at a glance, I can state definitively that it's IMPOSSIBLE TO PIN THEM TO THE TASKBAR. If you only use a few apps, sure, pin them to the Taskbar. But if you use many, that ceases to be an option. Further, I don't even know the names of many of those apps, so I can't type something to find it. I just know I need to SSH to a server or open an audio or JPG editor. (Though I suppose if I can't get back to being able to group and organize my icons, I will work to learn the names.) Yeah, if it's Word or Excel, no problem, and those are already pinned to my Taskbar, but the many dozens of apps I only use a few times per month, those I don't think of by name. In Windows 10 Start, I have 8 groups, like Audio & Video, Communications, System Tools, Entertainment, etc., averaging about 10 icons per group. They are organized with the ones I use most or with Live Tiles I use (like To Do and Windows Central) being larger, and less frequent apps having smaller icons. They are further organized so those that I tend to use together are positioned near each other. It takes me less than 2 seconds to hit Start and then zero in on the app I need, even if I don't know the name. In contrast, in Windows 11, it can take me 20+ seconds to scroll through All Apps (pinning is useless when it's a field of icons). Multiply that by a dozen or more times a day and you have several minutes lost each and every day. Is it the end of the world? No, and Windows 11 has a lot of other great features that make it worthwhile. But on the specific subject of the Start Menu, the Windows 11 version is an objective downgrade for users like me, compared to the capabilities of Windows 10's.
  • Honestly, now I do not even care about start menu.
    I mostly use the browser and press start and type the name of the application I want to open. One thing MS could improve is the search functionality in start, make it more like spotlight.
  • That's only possible when you use a small enough number of apps that you know all their names. If you have several apps, say, just for working on audio editing, and each has slightly different strengths, you may not know the name of all of the ones you use off the top of your head. Now, multiply that by every function: connecting to other computers, editing images, various pinned sites for functional checks (e.g., IP subnet conversions), etc. In that case, Windows 10 makes this trivial: just organize them together in a group on the Start Menu. This entire capability is lost in Windows 11, adding minutes of lost time every day to my life in Windows. Further, for many apps (far more than can fit on the one-dimensional Taskbar), the Windows 10 Start menu can show if there are updates. For example, I get emails in Outlook, messages in Facebook Messenger, Teams, Skype, and Slack, plus voice mails in YouMail, text messages to my cell on YourPhone, and probably a few others I'm forgetting. While they don't all support Live Tiles, many of them do, allowing me to just hit Start, then quickly see if I have anything I need to act on. I know Live Tiles aren't coming back, and those are only as useful as the app developers make them anyway, but the ability to organize app icons is entirely within the control of the OS. Losing that is a pure downgrade with no benefit to those users who don't care about that capability.
  • I don't mind the new start menu, it was a big change from Windows 10 yes, but if people don't embrace change we'd still be in the dark ages of computing
  • Windows 11 has many bugs which Microsoft is fixing so I recommend you to use windows 10 for 2021 so If you want to buy any Microsoft license, ODosta will be your best choice always as they're professional in this field and offer lifetime warranty with tech support.