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Windows 11's new search box in the Start menu shouldn't have you up in arms

Windows 11 Search Light
Windows 11 Search Light (Image credit: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

With Windows 11 build 2200.65, Microsoft got rid of the option to enable the old Windows 10 Start menu. While that change has caused a stir on the web, there's another update to the Start menu that has some people up in arms. In the latest build of Windows 11, Microsoft's added a search box to the Windows 11 Start menu.

It's always a bit funny to see people, including myself at times, up in arms about an icon or a feature in a preview build of an OS, but there are a few aspects of the search box coming to the Windows 11 Start menu that are worth breaking down.

Search within the Start menu isn't new

Windows has had a search box in the Start menu before. The Windows 7 Start menu that is beloved by many had a search box. And though Windows 10 didn't have a search box in the Start menu, it did have the option to search by typing after you click the Start button. In fact, typing after clicking the Start button has been a shortcut to search for multiple generations of Windows.

It is a bit redundant to have a search box within the Start menu when you can also have Search directly next to the Start menu. But some people prefer to have the Start menu act as a hub for multiple tasks. Others might not know that you can search for things from the Taskbar. Adding another search box helps in both situations.

The current UI is a bit odd

Start Menu Search Windows

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

The current implementation of Search within the Start menu is janky. When you click in the text box for Search, the Start menu closes and the Search menu opens from the Taskbar. In a way, the search box in the Start menu isn't even a functional feature as much as another shortcut for searching from the Taskbar. For what it's worth, typing after pressing Start has the same janky jump from menu to menu at the moment.

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Windows 11 isn't finished

Windows 11 Update Windowsupdate Estimate New Dark

Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that this is a preview build of an operating system that's months away from shipping. Look at the number of changes that rolled out with just the most recent Insider build of Windows 11. The search box could move or be removed several times before the operating system ships. Microsoft also has time to refine the UI, such as having the Start menu transition smoothly to the Search UI rather than closing one menu and hopping over to another.

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Of course, people can be passionate about whatever they like, but it's worth putting this change into context. With months until Windows 11 comes out, this search box could be optional or in a very different state when most people see it for the first time.

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).

30 Comments
  • It's exactly the same search as Windows 10. It's not even a new search. I click the Magnifying glass in Windows 10 and I get this. Windows and MacOS have had universal search going back years. Like many I don't find them all that useful, except to open Apps, so I just ignore them. No big deal.
  • "Lame, the search box on the Start menu just acts as a shortcut to the Search UI. No actual in-start search, at least not yet." What does this even mean? It's a shortcut to the Search UX, which, is actual in-start search.
  • The Search UX isn't in the Start menu. It's a separate flyout. That's what it means.
  • What I wish they would do instead, just combine them into single flyout but with 2 UI for each: Start and Search, but under the same flyout just changing the UI. This way it eliminates the problem with this 2 jarring UI switching since they are literally a seperate flyout/menu with different underlying code. We can still have dedicated search icon on the Taskbar with combined menu/flyout, but if you click Search it shows up Search UI. If you click Start button, it shows up the Start menu. If start typing from Start menu, the UI will just transition seamlessly to Search UI without closing the flyout.
  • "It's just a visual indicator for people who never realized that when you hit Start if you start typing, it just goes to Search anyway." Which 9/10 people don't realise. I work in support and so often people say "where" when I tell them just to start typing. Makes more more sense to combine them than a Start button and Search button.
  • Probably an even higher percentage than that. Windows enthusiasts know you can just start typing, but there's no reason why the average user would infer that option is available. It's more of a hidden feature than something intuitive.
  • The current UI is a bit Stupid! It's rushed out! They just wanted to release a new Windows ASAP. I hope they fix everything in the final version.
    Remove the idiotic recommended part from start menu and make the app launcher bigger.
  • You do realize this is just the Windows Insider Preview?? Windows 11 RTM will be in October 2021
  • Of course, that's why I said "I hope they improve it in final version!"
  • Then why did you say that they want to rush things out?
  • This is the thing people are mad about right now? Have they seen anything else happening in the world of tech, or even the world right now? Microsoft builds in the start menu search box and hasn't gotten to getting the panels to merge yet? FFS, they have until October. Let's get mad over the volume flyout still rocking Windows 8 Metro UI.
  • yes there are more pressing changes to get done before the release and this search bar debacle is pointless
  • I think the sentiments have to do with the Windows 10 development history, for many things hasn't even addressed only until now with new Windows 11 branding. New Snap layouts on Windows 11 has been suggested with Windows 10 for a long long time, but we only got it with Windows 11. That is like at least 5 years of waiting. Even the snap portrait orientation have been suggested for so long. That's my take about the reaction anyways but may not apply to everybody and just complain. But I think its one of the reason why some people just kinda reacted since we don't know yet except faith under Panos leadership that these things will get addressed before Windows 11 final release. Somtimes its better to give feedbacks early on during the development regardless they are actually going to address it or not, than to wait for final release on October and complain after when they didn't do it, which is too late and means another year to address it.
  • I don't like that it opens the search flyout when you click, it's misleading. I do like the design, though.
  • I never realised that, I just clicked on it now, and you are right, so the box in the start menu is just there for show.
  • I don't have a problem, makes it easier to find apps. The only problem I have is with the new OS requirements, is this going to be a thing now with each new OS release we must get a new system board?
  • I think this new implementation just broke the illusion of a unified Start/Search UI for users. They split the Start and Search processes back several Windows 10 builds ago and they just positioned and transitioned the UI in such a way that they appeared unified.
  • I think it just takes up space that can be used, but then so do the recommendation part at the bottom of the start menu. That needs to have an option to be turned off and so does the search box. No doubt at some point it will be, still early days. I have never used search in Windows 10 apart from the search in explorer to search for files, so I am not going to use it in Windows 11. I like to choose the browser and search engine I want to use, not have windows make the choice for me. But as I said above, early days, I presume MS will have an option to disable it.
  • Can anyone confirm if you click on "All apps", can you click on the letters to scroll down like you can in Window 8 + 10? That'll be annoying if not. My guess when this roles out to actual users - they'll complain about the Apps list again just like they did before with Windows 10, and then they'll add it along the left of the Start menu lol.
  • Yes, you can click a letter, then it zooms out to show all letters. When you click a letter, it zooms back in with apps starting with that letter at the top.
  • It does need either a smoother animation/transition from Start to Search or it just needs to house the actual search UI/UX within the bounds of the start menu flyout and permanently get rid of the separate search icon/flyout on the taskbar.
  • i dont like the dark line under the box....
  • Windows 11 is a complete and total UI disaster. Microsoft's pathetic attempt at shoving the UI of Windows 10X - which they knew would flop - into Windows 11 will backfire and rightfully so. The search bar there is but one tiny mistake in a plethora of mistakes in the designs of Windows 11 and it's absolutely useless not-really-Start Menu.
  • Show me on the dolly where the man hurt you.
  • Some folks are making a mountain out a of flake of dust. In short, it's a 'nothing to see here, move along' moment. I tested the Search from the start menu, the first attempt the animation was abit janky but subsequent tests were extremely fluid. When I say fluid, subsequent attempts basically made the start menu bigger and the contents were replaced by the search fly-out (I will add a gif to my thread about running W11 in a virtual machine later). I have to add, I am using a TV as a monitor - which has a refresh rate of 60 hertz.
  • It's a bit jarring when you type into the search box on Start, and the flyout disappears, and then is replaced by the search flyout. It's like, wait..., what just happened...
  • That's precisely the jarring experience that people been complaining about. I believe it will get address, but we don't know how. Under Panos, it may be going to be polished well. But historically, during Windows 10, they often do half-baked attempts and forget about it. So who knows. My suggestion, just make Start and Search literally a same flyout, but change its UI depends what is your intent. Click Start button will show up Start menu. Click Search button will go Seach UI. If you start typing or click the Search box, the UI will transform into Search without going out and in. If you click Start button from Seach UI, will just transform into Start menu.
  • What's also disjointing about the search bar is that it's moved. When I click on the search in the bottom of Win10, that's where I type. That's how it should be. When I do it on Win11 it's moved to the top of the pop out screen that could be in different places on each device (screen size and resolution). That's the definition of disjointing. It breaks the flow. Another bad choice on Microsoft's part.
  • I don't care just so long as the search doesn't randomly choose not to process anything after typing in it, which occurs occasionally in Windows 10. I assume I can still just hit the Windows key and start typing to search anyway, so this is a non issue, if this isn't the case then... weird.
  • Start > [search query] ANGRYYYYYYY