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Windows 11: This is the one feature that will convince me to upgrade

Windows 11 Start Menu
(Image credit: Microsoft )

Windows 11 is not, I’ll admit, as exciting an upgrade as I’d hoped for. Windows 10 felt like it was rescuing us from the touchscreen-warped horrors of Windows 8, but in the absence of anything seriously wrong with the current OS, Windows 11 looks a lot more modest.

That said, there is one big change I’m looking forward to: the new Windows 11 Start Menu. For this alone, I’ll probably take advantage of my free upgrade from Windows 10 as soon as the finished version launches.

Yes, the fact that this opens from the middle of the Windows 11 taskbar is a little weird, and will likely need a reconditioning of several decades’ muscle memory. But it’s a wholly sensible, practical upgrade for a feature that’s acted as the very backbone of Windows since its inception.

To truly understand why it’s worth getting hyped for a UI element, you first need to understand what’s wrong with the Windows 10 Start Menu. And to demonstrate, here’s a completely candid, no-changes-made screenshot of my own PC’s Start Menu:

Windows 10 Start Menu screenshot

(Image credit: Future)

I mean, just look at all that… nothing. I vaguely remember opting for as few Live Tiles as possible, but this just leaves digital acres of grey void. And of the tiles that remain, why are most of them even there? I haven’t used Microsoft Edge since I last installed Chrome, and there’s an “Xbox Console Companion” despite the minor detail that I have never owned an Xbox console in my life. I think the Blue app is on me — probably pinned by accident — but I don’t even know how to play Solitaire.  

As such, 70% of the Windows 10 Start Menu is functionally useless to me. There’s nothing offensive about the alphabetical list of apps, but note how it cuts off once we barely reach the Bs. If I want to find an app that isn’t deemed worthy of being pinned to my taskbar, or has a desktop shortcut, it’s quicker to just start typing its name in the Search Bar than it is to scroll through.

The Windows 11 Start Menu, in my eyes, makes far better use of the space. Its single wisest move is to kill off Live Tiles entirely, leaving more room for pinned apps while simultaneously arranging them into a cleaner, more readable grid.

Windows 11 Start Menu - Full menu

(Image credit: Microsoft)

I suspect this will actively encourage me to make better use of app-pinning; while I have some work-critical software stuck to my taskbar, the ugly and unintuitive Windows 10 Start Menu never felt like an ideal alternative. 

In Windows 11, I’ll be able to build a much tidier 3 x 6 lineup of apps I use a lot, but which don’t quite merit a seat on the taskbar. I shouldn’t need to use Search or scroll through that alphabetical list as much, either.

Windows 11 Start Menu - Recommended apps

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Another new Start Menu feature, the Recommend grid of apps and individual files, is intriguing, too. It looks as if this presents recently opened items that aren’t currently pinned elsewhere, so could be handy for jumping back into a Word document or media-editing project that I’d previously left unfinished. In Windows 10, there’s also a “Recent files” section in File Explorer that gives me a similar form of quick access, but it makes sense to consolidate Recommended items with pinned apps under one “Stuff you probably want to open” umbrella.

The Start Menu might not be as overtly flashy an upgrade as some Windows 11 features, like its Auto HDR mode for games or its support for Android apps. But in terms of what I’d actually use every day, it could easily end up as one of the new OS’ most significant improvements.

James Archer

James joined Tom’s Guide in 2020, bringing years of experience in consumer tech and product testing. As Audio Editor, James covers headphones, speakers, soundbars and anything else that intentionally makes noise. A PC enthusiast, he also covers the occasional spot of computing and gaming news, usually relating to how hard it is to find graphics card stock.

  • zulu53
    admin said:
    There are bigger new features in Windows 11, but it's the humble Start Menu that could make me switch from Windows 10.

    Windows 11: This is the one feature that will convince me to upgrade : Read more
    Its available in Windows 10 (version 21H2) , so its very difficult to follow your reasoning. Its a "new" feature, like many others that are available in the both the latest Windows 10 and the latest Windows 11. As was said by many running the early pre-release versions of Windows 11: almost all of the differences between windows 11 and Windows 10 20H2 or 21H1 could easily be incorporated into Windows 10 21H2 or Windows 10 22H1 without any need for a pre-release or beta version of Windows 10 being required: since all the beta testing would be completed in Windows 11 21H2 version.
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