When Windows 8 was released, Microsoft was heavily criticized for the introduction of a new Start Menu that was very different from the Start Menu in previous Windows versions. The menu was revamped according to Microsoft’s Modern UI tile-based design language, previously known as Metro, which Microsoft continued to use in Windows 10. Since a long time, the software giant now tests changes to the Windows 10 Start Menu again.
Where previous Windows versions had a clear ‘Start button’ in the left-bottom of the screen, starting from Windows 8 that was changed to a small Windows icon, called Start Tip, which is still in use in Windows 10. In Windows versions prior to Windows 8, the Start Menu was a way to start software, to search the computer and to find recently opened items. However, according to Microsoft’s telemetry, the start menu wasn’t frequently used and therefore the company decided to radically change it, starting with Windows 8.
In the initial Windows 8 version, the Start Menu was changed to a Start Screen. A tile-based menu that covered the entire screen and on which all applications and some documents were represented by tiles in different colors and sizes. Some tiles were so-called “Live Tiles”, which could display the weather, the title of the last received email or the last stored photo. Nevertheless, the Start Screen lacked features as search, recently launched items and links to special folders like “Downloads” and “Documents”.
On the internet many websites and users criticized Microsoft’s decision to change the Start Menu so drastically. Users also complained that they found the Start Screen to be pretty much unusable.
With the release of Windows 10, Microsoft decided to make changes again, which resulted in a two-column menu which no longer covered the entire screen. The left side of the menu showed, and still shows, a list of applications and on the right side the tile-based layout was/is still used.
In Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 18305 (19H1), Microsoft now tests the latest iteration of the Start Menu. The company calls it a “simplified default Start layout”. In the announcement of the build Microsoft writes, “the new layout has been simplified into a sleek one column design with reduced top-level tiles.”
According to Microsoft, the simplified Start layout introduced in this version might be just the beginning as Microsoft writes the simplified Start layout is, “part of an ongoing effort designed to enhance your Start experience in the upcoming release of Windows.”
Users who install Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 18305 (19H1) will not automatically see the new Start Menu, they have to manually enabled it.