The Windows Start Menu is, for the vast majority of Windows users, an essential element of the system. For those who regularly repeat the same two or three tasks, its use may be much less, thanks to the shortcuts, but for the rest, except for those who directly use the search bar, it is the gateway to practically everything they usually do on the PC.
At Microsoft they are fully aware of this and, consequently, it is an element of the Windows interface that they renew on a regular basis. For better or worse? This is tremendously subjective, most of the improvements are really liked by some users and substantially disappoint by many others, but this is logical, given the total number of users that Windows has. Designing a Start Menu that is equally satisfying to all users of the system requires an engineering exercise similar to what will be necessary to get humans to Mars.
Whenever comparisons are made between Microsoft and Apple, one that cannot be missed is the difference in the philosophy behind the designs. Those from Cupertino always tend to look for the “Less is more” (yes, we have seen exceptions in this regard, I speak in a general way). Microsoft, for its part, and although it seems to have improved in this regard, it has always been more about making the most of space by filling it with things. I repeat, Microsoft has been evolving (for the better, in my opinion) in this regard, but to understand where we come from, let me share with you an old video (from the mid-2000s), in which, by way of exaggerated satire , it was intended to show how Microsoft would have designed the box for Apple’s iPod:
This, of course, is an exaggeration, but it reflects that, indeed, at Microsoft there has always been a preference for concentrating a lot of things in a fairly small space. Which, I repeat, is neither good nor bad, it is a matter of taste. And if not, tell users who miss (or even continue to use) applications with interfaces like Winamp.
The evolution of the Start Menu, with its pluses and minuses, has not escaped this taste on the part of Microsoft to amortize the pixels of the screen well amortized and, in addition, to substantially increase its size with respect to that included in the first operating system versions. So the question is, what if the time has come to take a step back in this regard?
Reddit user hairybolox posted a design of his own (meaning it’s not something Microsoft is working on) that has gone viral, bringing the design paradigm behind the Windows Start Menu to Windows 11. Windows 9x (that is, 95 and 98), a simple, clean proposal that surprises from the first glance.
I don’t know what you think, but in my case this image has been particularly pleasing to me, the concept recovers the simplicity of a Start Menu in which you always found what you were looking for at lightning speed. What do you think? Do you prefer the current model or would you like something like the one proposed by hairybolox?