Microsoft has started testing a new design for the Windows 10 start menu alongside many other improvements to the operating system, just over a week after Apple announced a major redesign with macOS Big Sur.
The update will focus less on live tiles and more on consistent design and ease of use. It ditches the solid background colours for more fitting transparent white or dark grey (depending on the theme you use) and the squares behind app icons – making it much easier to quickly find an app in the start menu.
The tech giant says that it will be a “more streamlined design” that will “remove the solid color backplates behind the logos in the apps list and applies a uniform, partially transparent background to the tiles”. The feature is rolling out to Windows Insiders (users on preview versions of Windows 10) right now.
The Alt-Tab shortcut, that lets you switch between open applications quickly, has been updated to show all open tabs in the new Microsoft Edge browser, released in January. Before the changes, the Alt-Tab interface would only reveal the open tab in your browser window.
Finally, alongside improvements to the design of notifications, Microsoft is tweaking the way the taskbar works for new users. This could mean that, if your account is linked to the ‘Your Phone’ app, that will be pinned to your taskbar after setting up a computer for the first time. Another example Microsoft gave was the Xbox app – if you have an Xbox, this could be linked upon setup.
It comes after Apple announced only last week a major user interface overhaul with macOS 11 Big Sur and changes to the way the software worked, with a focus on consistency and transparency.