Why does the Windows 11 “Start” menu go against the ancestral training?

Recently, Microsoft has brought Windows 11 updates. The most eye-catching thing is probably that "violating the ancestral motto" has changed from the left-side to the middle-mounted app bar. Many people have also ridiculed that Microsoft has finally become their own "hate" "Looks like.

The middle app bar really brought me a lot of freshness when I first started, but after using it for a while, I still chose to set it to the classic left mode, because I really can’t let go of one of the classic elements of Windows — -"Start" button hiding in the lower left corner.

Click here to "start"

I believe that many of my friends first contacted Windows by clicking on the "Start" menu.

It may sound a bit confusing, but the "Start" button that integrates applications, settings, and even the most important switch control, is indeed the best guide to help users who are new to the computer and do not know where to start, take the first step: if If you don't know how to start, just click "start" first.

The "Start" button first appeared on Windows 95. With the popularity of Windows 95 all over the world, this simple menu in the lower left corner of the screen has become a deep-rooted operating habit of many people.

Even if you update the Windows version with a new interface, you know where to find "Spider Solitaire".

The "start" button has such a magical power, not only because it is the collection entry for most operations, but also because of its location.

No matter how many web pages and applications you have opened, just drag the mouse to the lower left corner and click to call up the start menu, which can be operated without staring at the cursor.

However, the "Start" button is not so convenient from the beginning. On Windows 95, if you yank the mouse to the lower left corner and click again, you will find that there is no response at all.

This is because in order to make the "Start" button look like a button, Microsoft has left a two-line gap between the icon and the edge of the screen. If you don't align the "Start" icon carefully and click on the gap, nothing will happen. .

At that time, many consumers thought that there was a problem with their software because they could not get the start menu, and called Microsoft to request repair or refund.

It was not until the birth of Windows XP 6 years later that this problem was solved. The small "Start" icon finally filled the lower left corner, and no matter which pixel the user clicked, the start menu could be called up.

Since Windows XP, the "Start" menu has been changing. For example, it integrates quick access to system applications, Windows 7 adds a hierarchical tree view, Windows 8 replaces the menu bar with tiles, and Windows 10 combines a dual-bar design with The tiles are combined…

▲ The Windows 8 that killed "Start" also killed itself…

No matter how you change, you can always click on the familiar "Start" button by yanking the lower left corner. Microsoft once wanted to kill the "Start" menu in Windows 8, but it still couldn't resist the user's love for "Start" and re-added it in the subsequent 8.1 version.

The "start" in the lower left corner attracts mouse clicks like magic. In fact, this is indeed a "magic point" on the screen.

Feel "it" without understanding "it"

When you click on an icon on the screen with your mouse, does it take more time to move a large icon, or more time to click on a small icon? Is the farther icon easier to click, or is it easier to move closer?

You may never think about these issues, but behind every operating system you use, there are a group of designers who are trying to make you use it more "cool". This is the so-called user interaction experience. design.

If you want users to use it faster and more refreshingly, you need to make the operation more in line with the user's intuition, where to click, shorten the time for users to complete an action as much as possible, and make the operation more refreshing.

How can people perform precise operations more accurately?

Psychologist Fitz has conducted a series of experiments on this problem. He found that the size, distance, and shape of objects will affect human response. Based on these realization phenomena, Fitz proposed a famous man-machine in 1954. Interactive model-Fitts's law.

Fitts law can be expressed by the mathematical formula Time = a + b log2 (D/W+1), where the most important influencing parameters are the distance (D) and the size (W) of the target.

In fact, Fitts's law runs through our lives. When shopping online, the "buy" icon is always very large, and it is close to the middle area where the mouse often stays, just to make it easier for you to locate it.

When you click on annoying advertisements, the "X" is always very small. It is the reverse use of Fitts's law to make you spend a long time paying attention to the content of the advertisement (and accidentally click on it).

Since the mouse will be stopped when it slides to the edge of the screen, the edge of the screen is equivalent to an "unlimited selectable middle area" at this time.

The user can quickly click on this area, so the edge is very suitable for placing some high-frequency operation menus, such as the menu bar at the top of macOS and the Dock bar at the bottom.

And when the two edges intersect, the "magic" is generated: the corner of the screen is the point farthest from the center, but the mouse will be stopped because of the corner, W is equivalent to infinity, and the required response time is almost zero. These places can be reached without thinking, so the four corners are called "magic pixels".

Placing the Windows "Start" button, shortcut switches, macOS notification center and other functions frequently used by users in the four corners is the best embodiment of these "magic pixels".

Fitts's law is also applied in many unexpected places. For example, the iPhone unlocks from the bottom of the slide and returns from the side. At this time, the entire edge is the "selected area", which is much faster than clicking a virtual button.

Emergency buttons such as brakes are designed to be larger than conventional buttons. It is also based on Fitts’s law. In order to make it more in line with human intuition and to shorten the reaction time of people in an emergency state to operate as much as possible, this has almost become A law of designing human interaction.

And back to Windows 11, centering the "Start" button is to give up the ancestral "magic pixel". The action of yanking the lower left corner becomes the aim that requires a little thought, and as the number of open applications increases, "Start The button will also move, and the complicated click is almost contrary to Fitts's law.

In other words, Microsoft's operations are quite anti-human.

Why is the Windows 11 "Start" button centered?

At the Windows 11 conference, Microsoft explained that centering is to shorten the control distance from the center of the screen to the target.

According to Fitts's Law, the improvement in response time brought by shortening the distance is obviously not as effective as the "magic pixel". Why does Microsoft insist on making such changes?

An important reason is that Fitts's law may no longer completely solve the manual interaction problems we encounter.

Compared with the past, the scene where we use computers has changed a lot. In addition to the conventional 15-inch and 27-inch screens, many people will use hundreds of inches of projection screens, and some will be used in multiple screens; The mouse is no longer the only way we interact. Touching the screen with our fingers is becoming more and more frequent.

In a variety of new usage scenarios, a simple Fitts rule can hardly cover all the interaction problems encountered.

Take the touch screen as an example. There is no restriction on the edge of the screen. There is no difference between clicking on the lower left corner of the screen and clicking on other places.

In addition, the "magic point" is sometimes more difficult to click under touch. The "shortcut switch" and time in the lower right corner of Windows 11 have been changed to the position of the magic point. Perhaps it is to make the thumb click without being overly distorted and more natural.

Of course, if you are like me, and you are only working on a traditional PC, then the "Start" button of "Magic Pixel" should be more useful.

But when I set the start button back to the left, I found another problem: "Start" became more comfortable, but it looked like it was no different from Windows 10 except for the icon and wallpaper changes.

So centering the "start" may also be the last stubbornness of Microsoft-such a big version update, always have a sense of freshness!

Higher, higher.

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