Designing the Start screen

As we wrote about in our post on evolving the Start menu, after studying real world usage of the Start menu through a variety of techniques, we realized that it was serving mainly as the launcher for programs you rarely use. As more and more launching takes place from the task bar, the Start menu looks like a lot of user interface for programs you don’t use very frequently. And the Start menu is not well-optimized for this purpose. It affords limited customization, provides virtually no useful information, and offers only a small space for search results. We found that people “in the know” who valued efficiency were moving away from the Start menu, and pinning their frequently used programs to the taskbar so that they could access them instantly in one click. We see this quite a bit on professional workstations where there are set of tools that all fit on the taskbar and are all used regularly—machines used by engineers, designers, developers, information workers, etc.

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