Windows 10 UI – A lot right, but what’s really wrong?

Windows 10 got a lot of things right, but it’s still janky, and this should help really dig in and reveal why, instead of parroting the usual privacy stuff this is a lot more about user interface design choices.

Windows 10 asked me “how can we improve your upgrade experience?” Since I had a lot of coffee, I wound up writing this.  These are in no particular order though I’ve tried to group similar things together.

Overall Win10 is great and I recommend it.

Privacy related choices during setup are not sufficiently explained. Need as much detail as possible. Let me drill down several times into “more detail” until my eyes bleed from 50 pages of text if that’s what it takes. Saying that it collects this and that and then adding “and other data” without explaining what that other data is (credit cards? bank logins? what?) is just inviting paranoia.

I don’t like that the taskbar is taller and it’s height is not configurable without using “use small taskbar buttons”.

PIN login seems less secure, not more, since it’s only 4 digits. You said it’s more secure but didn’t really bother to explain how. Not explaining seems to be the theme of Win10.

Start > Settings looks like someone forgot to actually style it. Control Panel category view actually looks nicer with the green and blue coloring, Start > Settings has literally zero color (gray on grey with off-grey) and boring line-art icons. That area feels completely out of place with the rest of the operating system. You now have three separate designs going on at once – one for Start and taskbar, one for Start>Settings, and one for Control Panel and File Explorer (which is much better.) It’s OK that Start/Taskbar are a little different from Control Panel but the fact that Start>Settings is SO different makes me just hate it.

Many options in Start>Settings aren’t explained and have no help link, F1 does nothing. Given that this is supposed to be easy mode there shouldn’t be unexplained things. What does “let apps use my Mass Storage” even mean? I’m a developer and have used Windows since 3.1 and I don’t know what that means. Apps can use large storage devices besides my main hard drive? If I turn it off, can an app no longer use my hard drive and therefore no app can ever launch again? What is mass storage? What makes something “mass” instead of just “storage”? Nothing is explained!

I’m a little confused about why there’s a Control Panel and ALSO Start>Settings at all. Start>Settings appears to be simple-mode for some things in Control Panel, but the things that are and aren’t there seem arbitrarily picked. Can’t change display resolution? Why? Too advanced? According to whom? Is Control Panel so broken that more settings had to be added somewhere else? Unify these.

Start>Settings also has a weird navigation – if you click into a section like Display, in the top-left there’s a “gear” icon that takes you back to the menu, but also a “back arrow” which apparently also takes you back to the menu. Why two? Why doesn’t the back arrow behave more like what I expect, which is a back arrow in a browser, and take me back one step instead of just being a duplicate of the gear icon and sitting literally right next to it for no reason at all?

Right-clicking on running taskbar items seems to have a weird lag.

Why can’t I resize the Cortana search box in the taskbar?

Launching very simple apps (Egg Timer Plus, a 351 KB executable that launches instantly) seems to have a weird lag, however it did seem to go away after a few launches. It was just very mysterious.

“Hey Cortana launch Microsoft Word” searches bing for “Launch Microsoft Word” instead of launching Word. And it doesn’t respect my default search choice in the default browser which happens to be Chrome/Google at the moment.

Random reboot on this PC after first boot trying to use Cortana. On a separate PC (Panasonic Toughbook CF-52) there was a random freeze shortly after boot, which never returned. Also seems Cortana related but only because I was interacting with Cortana when it happened, however, it was after first boot and that’s what a lot of people would be doing after first boot of Win10.

Had to upgrade network drivers manually after upgrading to get Ethernet on an Asus Z87-PRO (though I did force the OS upgrade ahead of schedule.)

The drag reordering of Start tiles quickly turns into one of those 3×3 sliding block puzzles where you’re trying to make the gap go away. Right-clicking an empty area of Start tiles does not have a sort or organize option.

Mail says “Let’s gather ALL your mail here to simplify life a bit” but didn’t seem to bother to check with Outlook that is already on the system and pull that existing POP/IMAP account. I literally can’t be bothered to add all those pop/smtp details into yet another application. Do it automatically or nobody will ever figure out what this new Mail thing looks like or does differently. One thing I know it doesn’t do well is automatically import existing accounts it should be able to easily find so I don’t have much faith in it doing anything else very well.

Calendar similarly didn’t pull anything from Outlook. I’d actually like to stop using Outlook one day. But it doesn’t seem like Win10 is going to make that easy by helping me pull everything out of it into better places.

Photos has a taskbar at the top that doesn’t seem to consistently appear when I mouseover it.

Share icon that appears in many apps doesn’t seem to have the ability to share to the most obvious places – Outlook, Facebook, Twitter, G+, Hotmail, nothing. Sharing from EDGE lets me choose Onenote (that’s sharing?) and sharing Photos gives me absolutely no options whatsoever. VERY strangely, the share panel that appears does not help or guide me to learn how to get more share destinations. A BASE function of Android devices is to register many applications for sharing so that this gives you many places to share things to. This is probably the biggest mistake you’ve made in Win10. Fix it asap. It is so baffling that this wasn’t noticed by anyone.

Clicking start and searching for “store” doesn’t give me anything to click to get the MS Store to open, even though there’s a tile apparently (I discovered after) and there was an icon in my taskbar that I removed. How can it not find this?

Installed Facebook from the MS Store and it’s very nice and improves my Share option. But given that I’m used to using FB in my browser, it’s still weird that I have to install another “app” and treat my PC like a phone to get the ability to share something to FB which should be doable through the browser. I thought Win10 was trying to fix the whole “your PC is a phone!” concepts?

Phone Companion starts to load with a blank white box, then vanishes with no explanation.

The right-click menu in Edge is bigger, different from desktop right-click, uglier, and apparently more “touch optimized” even though I don’t have a touchscreen and I just cannot stand to look at it. It is another stark reminder of the dual-design going on in Win10 that is so off-putting. So I probably won’t use Edge because of that. Which is a shame, because everything else about Edge is really quite great.

Edge “Add a search provider” in settings is broken and not working whatsoever. It has “choose one” but nothing to choose, then three buttons “add as default” “add” and “remove” all of which are gray and nothing else clickable.

There are numerous small icons, such as the double horizontal used to rename “Life at a glance” under Start tiles, that has no tooltip, no explanation, it’s just “try it and see”. Maybe that’s intentional but a lot of people are afraid to try things like that. No explanation, no click.

Finally, the Action Center prompted me to send this feedback, but while putting it together, I accidentally closed it, and searched everywhere to try to make it pop up again, and I can’t. So you’ll probably never see this unless you’re friends with me on Facebook or you read my blog, and nobody reads my blog.