How the Windows Start Menu evolved
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How the Windows Start Menu evolved

The Windows Start Menu is remarkable. That’s what people think of when it comes to Windows, where you’ll access many of the operating system’s important features, and are an icon for Microsoft. The Start Menu was first launched on Windows 95 and has been around for more than 20 years now. On the occasion of Windows 10 preparing to refresh the Start Menu, invite you to review how the Start Menu has evolved.

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Windows 95

In 1995, people queued from midnight to buy the latest Windows operating system update, and this is the first time the Start Menu appears. It is designed to make Windows easier to use by grouping related applications and features together. Before it appeared, people did this by using the Program Manager window, which was just a list of apps and no proper arrangement. Thanks to the Start Menu, Windows 95 was seen as a major “reform” for Microsoft’s OS and it helped bring Windows into a new computing era.

The Windows 95 Start Menu appears with the taskbar. This is a place to quickly see the time, adjust the volume, connect to the network … In addition, any applications that are launched will appear on the taskbar to help people quickly switch between them.


The Start Menu and taskbar always appear in the lower left corner of the screen, which gives users quick access to them no matter what software they’re using or what they’re doing. It has contributed to the elimination of the Command Prompt command line window for most operations, and has quickly become a place where users open documents, configure applications, run applications, or simply turn off the computer.

Windows 98 – 2000

At a glance, the Start Menu on Windows 98 is not much different from Windows 95. It is added a log off button to use with the new multi-user interface of the operating system, and the layout, icons, words are almost similar to the first version. Microsoft also added the Favorite folder to quickly open favorite websites that users have saved with Internet Explorer. Nowadays people rarely use this folder and directly use the browser’s Bookmarks feature. This is also one of Microsoft’s efforts to help the Internet become more popular and reach more people.


Meanwhile, the taskbar has more changes. Microsoft added Quick Launch, an area to staple commonly used software. It’s next to the Start button and is scalable depending on the number of apps pinned. Quick Launch also has a Show Desktop option to quickly minimize all windows and return to the desktop, because many users often put their documents here.

Coming to Windows ME, although this operating system version has many errors and problems, the Start Menu is still a stable operating component.

Windows 2000 was designed for advanced users, but the Start Menu still appears as a common sense. Microsoft made a few minor changes, such as bringing Windows Update out, repositioning a few items, but basically not much. This is also the last time we see the Windows 95-style Start Menu interface.

Windows XP – Windows 7

Windows XP marks the first time Microsoft has changed the appearance design for the Start Menu. It looks very different from before, starting with the Start Menu now divided into two different areas, drab gray is no longer available but it will use the same blue and green theme of Windows XP. The entire taskbar also wore a blue shirt, and Microsoft has tweaked this component so it hides unused applications. The taskbar also allows small toolbars to be placed on it, and external programmers begin to take advantage of this function to help users search, play music and do other things.


In the days of Windows XP, many third-party applications were also created to help users refine the Start Menu interface to their liking, from changing the Start button, changing colors, to arranging components. main. Maybe you still remember the time when the theme changed weeks a few times.

Windows Vista takes the Start Menu to another level by redesigning it to be more sleek, more beautiful (and also consume more system resources). The most distinctive feature of the Start Menu at this time is the translucent background looking down on the desktop. This style of Aero Glass is also applied to most of the main components of the system, including the taskbar, the window title, and even the sidebar containing the widget. One criticism of the Start Menu on Vista is that it has removed the icons in the Documents, Pictures, Music, Control Panel list … This makes it harder for users to recognize what they need. And maybe you didn’t notice, but the Start button is now a circle, and this is also a Vista logo.

But the notable change of the Start Menu at that time was the integration of the search feature. From XP and earlier the Start Menu was not searchable, and from Vista onwards it has become the main search engine of users when they need to find something on their computer, such as apps, documents, music files …

In Windows 7, the Start Menu hasn’t changed much compared to Vista. The shutdown button was brought out to be easier to see and use, the rest was almost unchanged. The search bar at this time was used even more when Microsoft tweaked it to speed up the search and indexing even better with documentation and system configuration settings.

Windows 8

Microsoft decided it would remove the Start Menu in Windows 8. It thought it was the era of touch screen devices, and the tiny Start Menu would no longer be suitable for finger touch. So the Start Screen was born, and the familiar Start and Start Menu buttons no longer appeared anywhere. Start Screen is an interface that fills the screen, on which are the boxes representing Windows 8 apps and users will quickly run their software from here. The Start Screen is the biggest change to the Start Menu so far, and also the biggest change to Windows itself.


However, things did not go the way Microsoft thought. Users seem to dislike the Start Menu’s disappearance, while the Start Screen is not suitable for use with mice and keyboards. It makes navigation more complicated, makes browsing apps harder, even shutdowns your computer more difficult. Start Screen confuses longtime Windows users, while new users spend more time learning. By Windows 8.1, Microsoft has brought the Start button back but still no Start Menu, click here, the Start Screen reappears.

Early Windows 10

It wasn’t until Windows 10 that Microsoft brought the Start Menu back. This time, the Start Menu is designed to retain the familiar features of Windows 7 while still possessing new features of Windows 10. More specifically, the Start Menu is in addition to listing applications, quickly opening folders. Most often there is a series of Live Tile tiles attached. These boxes now fit into a corner of the screen, so users can use the mouse and keyboard to access them more naturally and conveniently.

The Start Menu on Windows 10 also incorporates a new taskbar and search bar. They share the same physical appearance and even blend together when opened. Not to mention Cortana, Microsoft’s virtual assistant is also located on the taskbar and next to the Start button.


On Windows 10, all of the aforementioned things are designed for traditional laptop and desktop users, while still supporting native mode for tablet users. This has helped Windows 10 receive very positive feedback from customers and experts alike. Combined with the free upgrade, Windows 10 has extremely fast update speeds around the globe.

Windows 10 in 2020

In early 2020, Microsoft began suggesting that it would redesign the Windows 10 Start Menu to make it look more modern. In addition, Microsoft has also introduced a bright theme for Windows, so it is reasonable to have a new Start Menu because it makes the operating system more uniform.

In early July 2020, Microsoft began rolling out this new design through an update for test users. The new Start Menu uses a lot of lighter colors, removing the borders and background colors of the icons, while making the background of the tiles also slightly transparent. This makes it easy to browse and find the app you want, compared to having too many boxes of the same color as before (blue or pink or red or something, depending on the theme you choose in Windows, now switch to tones. white for background color).


A guy very close to the Start Menu is the Task Bar. Now the task bar will be changed flexibly depending on whether your computer is using an Xbox Live account, or when you have a Windows computer connected to an Android phone.


TechTalk via Delicate

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