When Microsoft makes changes to its design language, these changes affect much of the operating system, and many of its apps, like those in Office.
You might have noticed that some apps look very “Microsoft-y” or “Windows-ish” – this isn’t a coincidence, it’s because of their shared ‘design language’.
Microsoft’s Fluent Design System (previously known as ‘Metro’) is a design language that’s available for developers on any platform to make use of as well as for their internal development teams, and is something that helps tie apps and tools together and mark them as a part of the Microsoft/Windows experience.
Windows 11 is no exception to this rule, and there are many design tweaks that you’ll notice (and some you may not).
The Start Menu, a central part of Windows since Windows 95 released, is one of the most iconic part of the operating system. It’s seen many changes over the years, but rather than expanding it further in Windows 11, Microsoft has chosen to simplify and declutter this central hub menu, and the decision to do so was met with differing opinions.
Live Tiles (And the tile start menu system in general) were introduced in Windows 8.1, grouping and sizing tiles became an easy way for users to see and quickly access important apps, files and settings.
Windows 11 has stepped away from the tile system, and is much cleaner and simpler as a result. You can still pin applications and settings, but tiles are no more, and groups are gone. It looks much closer to Mac, Chrome, or Android app menus now. Power, settings and search are still located at the bottom, and you can customise a series of buttons that appear alongside the power button, in case you need access, say, to your downloads folder, or to your documents folder from the start menu.
By default, Windows 11’s start menu shows you recently used or opened files and recommended or recent apps– although you can turn this off. If you need access to the full menu of apps installed, of course, you can still do this from the start menu by pressing the “all apps” button.
Another change that has divided opinion is the decision to centre the start menu and icons on the taskbar. If you want to move them back to the left as they always have been, this is still possible in settings. The thinking here is that most commonly used operating systems (iOS, Android, MacOS) have all the information expanding from the centre and this, logically, should be the best place to put them – right in the middle of your field of view. It also helps new or inexperienced users of windows feel less intimidated, and is more intuitive and familiar.
There are the typical third-party tools available, such as Stardock’s Start 11, to customise your start menu experience beyond the customisation settings provided by Microsoft; with such apps you can even emulate the start menus of previous versions of Windows if you wish.