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Microsoft’s Former User Experience Head Is “Shocked” by the Windows 11 Start Menu

Jensen Harris has plenty of experience in user interfaces at Microsoft, but he is not a fan of the Windows 11 Start menu.


One of the major changes that came to was a complete redesign of the Start menu. This was also a controversial change, but insists this is a seamless experience that delivers an outstanding user experience. However, one former Microsoft executive with a background in this area seems to disagree.

As first reported by WinFuture.de, Microsoft's former Director of User Experience Jensen Harris, is “shocked” by the Windows 11 Start menu. Harris led Microsoft's User Experience team for five years and was with the Redmond company for over 16 years.

In a Twitter post, Harris shows his disdain for the new Start. He claims the banner advertising for Bing Wallpaper appears like a virus and the background colors are archaic. He also points out one side of the banner has rounded corners while the other side has straight edges:

“The bigger issue here though: why are there banner ads in the Start menu? Is the amount of $ made by this wallpaper app worth cheapening the experience people have in this very high-touch piece of UI? It erodes trust—I wasn't even searching for “wallpaper.” Which brings me to:

Great UI should help people achieve a task with minimum friction. But the next section down (referring to the “Switch to the browser recommended by Microsoft” section) is expressly designed to introduce friction into my experience. It's the largest UI in the Start menu, and it's designed specifically to distract me away from achieving my intended task.”

Design Choices

Harris insists he is not nit-picking, pointing to the importance of the State menu and its history as one of Microsoft's core user experiences:

“Design matters. Details matter. Especially in UI as iconic as the Windows Start menu. I remember the team creating a special ligature in the Segoe UI font (used in Windows) to make “S” and “t” align beautifully for the word “Start”. That's how important Start was to Microsoft.

Microsoft has many brilliant designers who care deeply about the work they do—I worked with many who are still there! It just comes down to a question of what you prioritize. User experience needs to be architected with as much intensity as you architect your tech investments.”

Harris also says he does not support Microsoft's decision to move the Start menu to the center of the screen. It is worth noting, this was the major controversy around the Start menu for Windows 11. Importantly, it is absolutely possible to left-align the Start  and Taskbar in Windows 11 if you want.

Tip of the day: File History is a Windows back up feature that saves each version of files in the Documents, Pictures, Videos, Desktop, and Offline OneDrive folders. Though its name implies a primary focus on version control, you can actually use it as a fully-fledged backup tool for your important documents.

Luke Jones
Luke Jones
Luke has been writing about all things tech for more than five years. He is following Microsoft closely to bring you the latest news about Windows, Office, Azure, Skype, HoloLens and all the rest of their products.

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