Getting the basics of Windows 11 right should be a higher priority for Microsoft

Windows 11 desktop with angry and thinking emoji

When I reviewed Windows 11 for Neowin in 2021, I gave it a score of 6.5 / 10, while saying that “simplifying the user interface is not a terrible idea, but having it there in a half-baked way does not really make it for an enticing user experience “. Although it was my opinion based on the launch version of the OS, it has unfortunately still not changed more than six months later.

Microsoft seems to intend to add new features that we have seen in recent Insider releases, while ignoring all the inconsistencies in the user interface and the lack of basic functionalities in the existing release. Let me start with a very simple but important example, which was highlighted by my colleague Taras Buria on Twitter just a few weeks ago:

Despite the fact that all apps in Taras’ screen are inbox apps developed by Microsoft itself, we see inconsistencies in the user interface and the user interface throughout, as if there is no senior management overseeing the design of the operating system. Even the style of the icons is different, some have thicker edges while others are more minimalist. It’s as if each development team worked in their own silo and just focused on what they thought would make their app look beautiful, regardless of the overall aesthetics of Windows 11.

A screenshot of Control Panel open in Windows 11

In fact, this problem is not only contained in icons. We still have older menus older than Windows 10 spread across the entire operating system (see screenshot above) and menu settings that have basically been lifted and moved from earlier versions of Windows without the overall UX being considered at all.

All of this indicates a clear lack of design standardization, which is not a good look for an OS being used by millions of people.

We also have the problem of basic functionalities that are missing. Microsoft still refuses to let people move the Windows 11 taskbar for ridiculous reasons, but hey, as long as you can rotate the settings icon in Notepad, everyone’s happy, right ?:

There are some nuances here, so let me be crystal clear here. Of course, the Windows 11 development team is large and consists of several entertainments with different people working on different things. Of course, the people who added that Easter egg to Notepad are not responsible for making the taskbar portable.

But here is the case this type of prioritization gives rise to poor optics. It does not look good when you work on something as superficial as desktop stickers and a spinning gear, while your inbox Notepad app goes completely crazy in specific scenarios:

I have no problem with these extra things being added down the line, but my primary query to Microsoft would be: Please do the basics right first.

And if you’re wondering what these “basics” are, Microsoft’s own Feedback Hub is a good place to start. There are tons of items out there with thousands of voices, and ideally Microsoft should track these with a higher priority in terms of development. But many of these requests have been in limbo for months now without any update from Microsoft, and we even got a hint recently that the company ignores this feedback when it’s convenient for it. If anyone could refer me to a much-requested feedback item to make the Notepad gear icon spin, desktop stickers, or any of the other redundant features that Microsoft is working on, I would like to withdraw my argument.

The Windows 11 logo with the wallpaper on the background

To sum up for people who just want to jump to the end of the article (or worse, defend Microsoft right after reading the headline), I want to emphasize that I fully understand that Windows 11 is constantly being developed by several teams with their own focus areas, so it is unfair to expect things to change at once. That’s not what I’re asking for either.

However, there is a clear lack of centralized monitoring, which should be responsible for managing priorities, guiding the development of missing functionalities and standardizing UI design. This adds to the problem of poor optics, where the actual much-requested feedback elements have been open for several months, while Microsoft keeps adding features that almost no one asked for.

The problem with the existing approach is that each team will continue to evolve within their own area of ​​focus in a diluted way, and while this may result in a lot of features being added, it may not be things that people actually have. asked and it may give the impression that Windows 11 is a collection of different components rather than a cohesive OS due to the UX inconsistencies.

I know (or at least I hope) that things will get better down the line, but given the extremely slow progress in UI consistency and development of basic functionalities over the last six months along with a new feature update, coming soon, I feel it’s now as good as any time to urge Microsoft to re-prioritize development activities and have a central oversight process in the pipeline.

Do you think Windows 11 development needs a revolution in centralized monitoring? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below!