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Windows 7: the case for dumping the Start Menu

Mike Halsey writes that Microsoft is very likely starting the process of removing the Start Menu from Windows in Windows 7. I think he's right. But here's the thing: Why make Windows 7 a half-way house between the past and the future? If this is a just a vestigial UI construct from the 1990's, why not just remove it completely?

I’ve been wondering if there’s a case for dumping the start menu.

I’ve been petitioning Microsoft to allow the pinning of icons such as Recycle Bin, Computer and Control Panel to the taskbar.

Bravo. Exactly. Why the heck is "Aero Peek" down at the right end of the taskbar (it used to be called Show Desktop and was right next to the Start button)? That should be the Recycle Bin.

If they do this, what’s left in the Start Menu to click on?  All the user folders, Documents, Pictures, Music etc are available from icons or jumplists on the taskbar by default.  This only leaves All Programs and Games.

I believe that if a way can be found to incorporate these into another jumplist or two, ala Apple OS X, then the Start Menu as we know it will be well and truly obsolete, resigned to pretty much just turning the computer off and not much else.

Why am I saying this?  I’m looking at the Start Button in Windows 7 now and wondering when I’m ever going to press it.

If I can put myself in the role of devil's advocate for a moment, I guess I'd just argue that the one reason Microsoft should leave the Start Menu in Windows 7 is muscle memory. Even though I may pin, say, the Firefox button to the taskbar, the truth is, I still reflexively mouse over to the Start Menu (or tap the Windows key) every time I want to run Firefox. This will take a while to get over. And for less sophisticated users, it will be even harder.

Microsoft has gotten rid of the Classic Start Menu in 7. How about making the more modern Start Menu an option (likely used only by businesses and old-timers) and one that is disabled by default? Come on Microsoft, if you're really serious about modernizing the Windows UI, this is the chance to make it happen.

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