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Microsoft loses control over Windows Tiles (golem.de)
261 points by hannob 32 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 103 comments

I've been using classic shell to completely ban tiles from my windows experience, it does a good job of returning the interface to more or less windows 7 familiarity.


I'd be keen to know if anyone else has used this or some other approach to de-candy-ify their desktop.

Edit: thanks so much for the feedback everyone, the hive mind at its best! I learned from the cementers below that classic shell has been abandoned and then forked to a community project here:


The best thing I have found on both Windows 10 and Android to improve usability is to go into the accessibility or ease of access settings and disable animations. This makes both systems so much snappier and responsive.

On Windows it makes the Start menu fast and comfortable - instead of having some things slide in from one direction and others from another direction, the Start menu just appears instantly. I used to use Start10, but after disabling animation and deleting the tiles I don't need, I'm just as happy with the Windows native Start menu. I mostly just use the type-and-search rather than clicking on icons, so the less fanfare the Start menu presents, the better.

A couple of other settings I like in Windows 10 are also in the ease of access settings under the cursor and pointer section. I changed the cursor thickness to 3 for my high-DPI displays, and found a nice solid black mouse pointer there too - much easier to see than the default white one.

Whatever OS you are on, take a look through the accessibility settings. That is where they hide a lot of the good stuff.

Great tip. The animations never bothered me much, but upon turning it and transparency off, things are so much snappier. I have absolutely no need for them on my work machine.

I’m probably a glut, but I can’t help but like the transparency features even when working.

One complaint I have about macOS is that there is no way to disable animations. There are a couple of options to reduce motion but nothing to totally remove them all.

Disabling animations in Android can have some surprising æffects. For me the little "car" in Lyft/Uber refuse to budge without closing & reopening the app. Some status indicators go haywire too (like loading bubbles in youtube, and fake frequency histograms in music apps).

My laptop disables animations in low power mode and ironically that makes it feel faster than "performance" mode.

I especially hate the smooth text cursor movement in Microsoft Word, where it even animated the movement as you type characters - I find it really off-putting. Thankfully, disabling animations, as you describe, also disables this "feature".

Annoyingly, after some Windows updates this setting is reverted though.

Yes, that cursor animation is just awful. What kind of User Experience Designer thought it was a good idea to take a discrete event - typing a character or using a cursor key - and turn it into a laggy animation? No other application does this. It's simply a ridiculous idea.

Adding insult to injury, Word has a "Provide feedback with animation" checkbox in the Word Options/Ease of Access panel. But turning off this checkbox does nothing! You still get the animations unless you turn off the systemwide animation setting.

Wait, there is another application that does this, and it's even worse: Excel. By default, Excel animates the cell selection border even if you click on another cell far away. Yes, it starts an animation at the cell you were on and animates it all the way to the cell you clicked on. This is incredibly stupid: when I click on a cell, that is the cell my attention is on. I don't care about the cell that was previously selected, or seeing an animation go diagonally or whatever direction from there to the cell I clicked. Why in the world did anyone think this animation was helpful?

Excel also does not respond to the systemwide animation disable, but thankfully it does have the animation checkbox like Word in its own options panel, and that one works.

This is always the first change I make on every new OS install I use... all of them. And in every app and web app that lets me do it.

* I neither need or want every little thing to be animated. It just distracts me and slows me down. *

Android I've turned all the devtools animations scale settings down to 0x to disable pretty much everything.

Only a few browsers support it and even less websites respect it but you can set your browser to "reduced motion" mode some websites will stop using animations.


I've used it for a long while, from windows 8 to last summer on windows 10. Works great.

After a warning that classicshell was discontinued I finally decided last summer to make the switch and use the windows 10 menu; remove the full app list always appearing, remove all the "magic tiles", put small sized tiles for my app grouped by categories and using the stack system (several tiles in one).

Works decently (well enough that I can fit all I want in a single menu view, no need to scroll), and at least it's supported by windows so I don't risk losing it randomly some day.

My major remaining issue is how broken the search is, open start menu, start to type and it searches but I have no idea what kind of broken search algorithm can possibly gives such terrible results, perfect match are sometimes not shown, things that barely match fill the top of the list ... I know alternative exists but I don't see why I would need that here, it's just sad. I disabled all the web search features that made things even worse.

The modern windows 10 start menu can be made usable again, but it really feels like a case of you guys needs to go back to the basics instead of trying to fix the fix of the fix of what doesn't work. Throw it away, start again.

> at least it's supported by windows so I don't risk losing it randomly some day.

Hah, good one!

Eh, I mean the core things aren't removed often. Previous menu did hold from 95 to 2012 (windows 8), so it's rather long lived. And the new worst one they came up with is still there now 7 years later.

Can't really call it "unreliable" when they change it once in more than 20 years, in computer time that's eternity.

In my experience administering an office full of Windows 10 PCs, I wouldn't call any part of that system reliable. Every major update seems to change something in unpredictable ways. Using Enterprise helps a lot, but it's still a pain.

windows 10 search is straight broken, tries to give me web results most of the time. only reason i use it is habit from using spotlight on mac.

I actually quite like the Windows 10 start menu, at least after removing all the default tiles for games and what-not and replacing them with things I actually use.

Totally with you on the broken search functionality though - it didn't work in Windows 7, and it still doesn't work. I literally have no idea how such a core feature of the world's most popular desktop OS can be so horribly broken for so long... but it is!

There are really bad problems with search, but sometimes it is just enough to type in/remove a single letter. I think that's a mechanism for you to be able to pick between options without the need to stop typing your keyword.

It seems like Classicshell has been abandoned by the developer. It's a bit surprising to me that it still works considering Windows 10's rapid pace of development, so I hope it keeps working for the foreseeable future.

As for myself, I've sort of given up on the start menu. The search function is finally decent enough again that I can mostly rely on being able to type only a few characters before it finds the program I need. so I can generally ignore the tiles entirely.

I'm using a OSS fork call Openshell.

The Windows 10 menu is terrible, OpenShell is the second thing i install on my Windows machine(s).

What's the first?

Another web browser I bet

A proper terminal https://conemu.github.io

>I'd be keen to know if anyone else has used this or some other approach to de-candy-ify their desktop.

I have been using Classic/Open-shell from W8.x onwards.

I use O&O Shutup10, not particularly to de-candify but for tweaks and performance improvements. It does the heavy-lifting by disabling services, making registry and group policy edits for Telemetry, Security, Privacy etc. It also stops a lot of UI/UX annonyances and dark-patterns, clawing back some useful bandwidth.


I don't remember the last time I really used the start menu. My normal workflow on Windows is the same as on iOS:

Focus or open the search box ("Windows-Key" on Windows, or swipe-down on iPhone X) and type the program I'd like to start. Works pretty well on both systems, and normally the first letters are sufficient.

That's what i used to do until it was not possible to disable the bing search anymore. This + the fact that searching for a program was quite inaccurate (it will sometime not find it, or do weird stuff like "not" will find notepad, "note" wouldn't, "notep" will find it again). I found myself opening edge all the times searching for things i don't want to search with a search engine i don't want to use. I never found a way to disable this advertisement for bing.

That was the nail on the coffin that made me change operating system and I really don't miss windows 10.

Also, it frequently manages to find a new, undesired, match just as you're about to click the the thing you actually wanted, thus repositioning the tiles and causing you to launch the wrong thing.

This is what happens when you let WebDevs work on your UI.

The best thing is when 1 out of 7 times, it displays the "uninstall" link for the application instead of the application.

I don't know how many times I've needed to fix something with a user's display settings and hit Windows Key and started typing the word "display", only to end up with an app recommendation instead of the damn system settings! Oddly, if I just delete the last letter and search "displa", I usually get what I wanted. Windows 10 is so very frustrating.

I have bing search disabled, so it is still possible, but don't ask me how I did it. The Problem you describe still persists, though. So it seems to not really be related to bing search that they totally fucked up the start menu search. It's a disgrace how bad it is.

To be honest, i had managed to disable it prior to some of the big updates. After having to reinstall windows from a newer medium including those updates, i wasn't able to disable it anymore. From memory, it was just an option in the start menu settings that has been removed now.

I dimly remember it being more involved for me than that and probably included group policies + registry. But it is gone for now and has not come back with updates. I am not sure I ever do a new install of windows 10 on my home PC should the need arise. For me, the signs point to Linux more with every new "feature" MS builds into Windows 10 and the only thing really holding me back still is gaming.

I've created a dozen or so of entries myself in the HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\App Paths registry key and i also got a few in the taskbar.

For instance to start firefox i can do windows-key + 1 (taskbar) or windows-key+r+ ff + enter (app path registry key)

I just unpin all tiles from the Start menu, that is all.

Really don't get the fuzz, thre are plenty of Powershell scripts floating around if one wants to automate it instead of doing a couple of right mouse clicks.

I'm ad tolerant but ads being baked into my OS feels weird and wrong.

Not everyone knows how to remove them, and really why should they have to remove them?

For me it feel the same way as Amiga bundles, just in digital format instead of a pile of floppies.


If Windows 10 were free, then tolerating a certain amount of this bullshit would be acceptable. But it isn't free.

It was free for XP, 7, 8 and 8.1 users.

Plus every new release since then.

well I had been using LiteStep to modify my Desktop sine late 98. Sadly Windows 8 was partly incompatible and Windows 10 fully so. I made the switch to Kubuntu and am very happy with Plasma.

Used to LOVE LiteStep, used it until Windows 7, since I actually preferred it over any LS setup I'd used. Will have to check out Plasma... next machine will be a hackintosh or linux (if I can't get macos working well enough).

Thanks for this suggestion !

Since I've switched to win10, I've been mostly regretting the sober XP-style greyish toolbars (I could have it on Win7 but not 10 anymore). Any ideas ? Can Open-Shell make that ?

Anyways, I feel the Windows UI has become less and less productive, it's striking.

Just to clarify, do you mean that you've been missing the classic theme? Windows 10 doesn't have it, so it's not possible to regret using it.

Well yes, I'm missing the classic theme (not being a native english speaker I don't quite get the difference).

I like the UI to be as sober and straightforward as possible.

To miss something is to wish it were true again. I miss Momma; I wish I could see her again.

To regret something you've done is to wish it had not happened. I regret calling him stupid.

Opposites, really.

Allright, thanks.

> h̶t̶t̶p̶:̶/̶/̶w̶w̶w̶.̶c̶l̶a̶s̶s̶i̶c̶s̶h̶e̶l̶l̶.̶n̶e̶t̶/̶

Seems that you copied this link with some Unicode underline characters included or something. It looks really weird in Safari on iOS 12.

Clickable link: http://www.classicshell.net/

I use Start10 by Stardock (Start8 previously) and it's been alright. The search is somewhat flaky with results but it does the job.

I use a combination of Open Shell, Launchy and Search Everything as my workflow. Works pretty well for me.

I use xfce to pretty much guarantee I'll never need to worry about my DE being candyified in the first place.

> or some other approach to de-candy-ify their desktop.

It's called Linux.

> The host that should deliver the XML files - notifications.buildmypinnedsite.com - only showed an error message from Microsoft's cloud service Azure.

Why is this not hosted on microsoft.com, or something that is clearly tied to them such as microsoftusercontent.com?

Well, Microsoft often uses suspicious looking URLs for their services. E.g. Office/OneDrive connects to hosts like "oneclient.sfx.ms" and "auth.gfx.ms". So as a user you have to trust these domains and you also have to trust the domain management of the island of Montserrat.

This horrible domain shell-game is really annoying if you have to manage a DNS filter of any kind.

Because registering subdomain on Azure is easy, no need for any approvals. While registering anything under Microsoft.com requires review and approvals - bureaucracy in other words.

Doesn't even need to be under microsoft.com though. Just include the word "microsoft" in it.

Um, let the bidding begin?

I'll bid $200 for the domain. I'm sure there are some windows 8 machines that will never receive the patch. I don't have any nefarious plans besides perhaps setting each tile to rick roll.

Ok, on second thought, in our society I am sure this would put my ass in jail. I suppose it could be considered impersonating the companies behind the tiles, damaging their brands, damaging the Windows brand, running up users network bandwidth, stealing user's computer resources, and then the liability of an actual nefarious hacker using it as a vector to attack or spam obscene advertisements. (Which is kind of what happens when you visit a webpage in 2019 without an ad blocker, but it is O.K. in that case.)

He doesn't have control over the domain. It just so happens it points to Azure domain records. He then claimed "control" of the "hosting portion" on Azure on the app service as whatever was there before was gone.

windows 10 start menu is a complete joke it never finds anything within the apps area of my start menu

Likely an issue with start menu search. I had it a year or two ago, when I first installed Win 10, start menu search couldn't find anything. I can't remember details since it was a while ago, but I just searched the web to find the culprit.

Now since I have fixed the issue, I can search any application installed and get it in moments. Try and see if maybe you also have an issue with search itself.

There's a software called EVERYTHING works like magic. Pin it to taskbar / set hotkey.

Everything is one of the few tools I wish there was a Linux equivalent of. Any suggestions?

It needs to be able to index filenames locally as well as on network shares, and ideally show results as you type.

Try Wox: http://www.wox.one/

It's similar to Spotlight on the Mac.

Oh wow, that's amazing. I had been using "Everything" and WOX integrates with it for an even better experience.

Same for me... on systems that are disconnected from internet. I have a bunch of machines in a lab that I clean install from time to time, and they are always disconnected. Windows "search" never returns anything on those machines.

or it finds it but as you hit enter NEW RESULTS and the wrong thing opens

yeah i've noticed i tend to start ignoring windows native explorer functionality and build my own mindspace for apps and stuff. i didn't notice until i bought a macbook and realized i could just search apps with finder when i thought of them instead of the path occupying valuable space in my mind.

think the functionality broke because of them trying to include cortana results in the search. it's completely garbage now

Unfortunately the search (whatever that navigation feature is called) in Windows was always several steps behind what Linux and OSX offered; even before Cortana was a thing.

On MacOS, I recommend Alfred as a free upgrade over Spotlight.

What killer features does it have over spotlight that made you switch?

i thought alfred was paid and closedsource?

There’s a free (as in beer, not speech) app that does quite a lot, and a paid upgrade that’s largely about customizing it. The potential customizations from the ‘power pack’ seemed quite extensive, but I haven’t personally played with it much.

The latest update, finally, fixes this for me.

Very deadpan explanation, almost like it's not a big deal. I like it.

Its a German website - I would expect that ;)

As a German I did actually get an impression of urgency / severity the way this was written. Not everyone understands how Germans communicate as I am reminded of every day for the past 14 years in the US.

Please share some insights about German-US communication incompatibilities from this experience, I'm curious.

Oh I can see it - I'd like to think as a Swede I am bit in between the German way to communicate and the US way. However, now you have to excuse me, I have to go fika. ;)

So if you want to advertise to a decent amount of people, you can take over that subdomain now. since ms doesn't care to fix it, i guess it's even sanctioned?

I would suppose that you could do similar attacks if someone used AWS S3 as a static site backend, then deleted the bucket, since S3 bucket names are global across all AWS accounts. It would be very difficult to find a target, since it seems as though people tend to leave S3 buckets around forever (see the recent "Facebook" leak that was caused by a defunct company leaving public S3 buckets around w/PII).

The ability to create Live Tiles for websites, including automatically based on RSS feeds, was a great feature that was a shame it wasn't hosted for long enough that people realized it existed.

I used it to host a couple simple "widgets" such as a NaNoWriMo word counter that would keep NaNoWriMo statistics front and center on a live tile. Doing it via a bit of XML hosted on a webpage, and a couple API endpoints that generated a bit more XML on demand, was supremely easy. It made it simple to write "pull" notifications.

I'd may see how tough it is to rewrite it with "push" Azure Functions eventually, but the raw simplicity of doing it as "pull" website was really easy.

You're still looking at the issue from a developer standpoint.

From a client side, all tiles are generally needless clutter.

Even a large amount of savvy tile developers won't resolve the problem of the general mess they create by existing.

The newer desktops that have start menus without tiles finally feels like a step in the right direction.

I hugely disagree, my love of tiles came from being a user first. The tiles were great as a user. Much less clutter than the equivalent widgets and notifications systems on other platforms. With good working tiles, arranged to personal preference, the Notification Area in the Action Center on Windows is a redundant mess by comparison.

Tiles gave an opportunity to see a lot of information at a glance, in a much less obtrusive manner than popup push notifications that get swept into a notification drawer.

The problem with Tiles wasn't even lack of developers building good Tiles. The problem was Microsoft compromising the vision on them and weakening the Start Screen to appease people that wouldn't adapt to change. (It was also maybe Microsoft not making it easier to set Tiles on Win32 applications, which could have been enabled much sooner.)

(I will mourn the Tiles if they go away entirely. Just as I mourn the Charms as being good ideas not fit for this world.)

Does anybody remember RSS based backgrounds of Windows Vista? I think that URLs of a lot of them are now unoccupied as well.

No, but I loved the "Active Desktop" of Windows 98.

The very mention of Active Desktop makes me think of the sound of a 90s era hard drive working very hard because of so much swapping. The feature wasn't kind on the hardware of the day.

I remember calls to the ISP I worked for, complaining that the computer would try to dial the modem every time the computer booted, so we had to teach the user how to disable that crap.

I worked for an ISP - we used to set the customers start page to the ISP homepage. Then the CEO suggested we put an autoreload on the homepage, so the modem would reconnect or keep connection open, so more minutes would be racked up. My first exercise in saying no for ethical reasons. This seems so insignificant today... the second was turning down a job to handle outsourcing of medical records. I said, with the technology you are proposing, there's just no way we can secure those records. Fun to think of sometimes in today's break-things-and-move-fast-culture. (Late 90s, both occurrences.)

Got a German cookie warning with English content. Strange.

It's a german site, the english article is just an exception. They have on average one english article per year, so they don't bother adapting their site for other languages.

In the nearly four years since its release, I have yet to see a headline that makes me feel better about Windows 10 or happier that I'm stuck using it on my laptop. I see at least one headline a week that makes me glad I stuck to Windows 7 on my primary desktop.

I used to use a Windows 10 virtual machine in order to have a "consistent" end-user environment for the minimal day-to-day computer-related tasks I perform (primarily spreadsheets and other Office related stuff). It was specifically intended to be an almost quarantined, minimal maintenance system - I had other machines on which to install software for one-use-only and testing reasons. Over about two years that VM, with only Windows Updates being installed on it, progressively slowed to a crawl in its responsiveness, in that even entering values into a spreadsheet would have noticeable lag.

I eventually created a Windows 7 VM with identical hardware settings in order to compare performance (make sure it wasn't networking or VM platform issues).

The Windows 7 VM has now replaced the Windows 10 VM and is still super-responsive a year later.

I can't see any value in Windows 10. I don't what it's doing with the resources provided to it, but "doing what I tell it" doesn't seem to be very high priority.

As an aside: I've moved my primary desktop / on-metal system to Ubuntu, and only ever boot into Windows 10 on the rare occasions I need a windows-exclusive piece of software.

> only ever boot into Windows 10 on the rare occasions I need a windows-exclusive piece of software.

Which is like never.

Gets new machine two years on, fdisks the drive without even booting into Windows once.

But hey, their telemetry is top notch ;)

Seriously though, I am still on 8.1, (using Windows Firewall Control) and I use Acronis to backup monthly (and then upload to Carbonite) so even if MS does a sneaky thing and upgrade me to 10, I will be able to roll back relatively easy.

Win10 is overall a bad bad bad OS, the only good things I hear about it is the efficiency of CPU/RAM usage, but I am not switching for that.

> Win10 is overall a bad bad bad OS, the only good things I hear about it is the efficiency of CPU/RAM usage, but I am not switching for that.

If you're using a modern netbook witha tiny amount of disc space Windows 8 uses WIMBOOT which has a dumb problem with the way it handles updates - storing them outside the compressed WIMBOOT areas and thus taking up large amounts of space. Particularly frustrating since WIMBOOT was created for machines with small storage.

Windows 10 uses Compact OS which is better.

I agree that Windows 10 isn't very good.

There are improvments, but none that I can associate to the UI, which I still think is a massive regression.

Being able to copy paste from the console. SMB3 (i.e. offering encryption if properly configured). Virtualization was a major leap forward in windows 8/windows server 2012. Http2 support in IIS.

What truly turned me off of Windows 10 was something small but very symbolic. On past versions of windows, if you want a shortcut to, say, Notepad on the desktop, you open the start menu, begin typing the name, and when it pops up in the list you click and drag it onto the desktop. You can also right click it and hit "send to desktop (create shortcut)."

Windows 10 can't do either of those things. If you try to click and drag a Start menu search result it does nothing. Right clicking only gives you the option to add it to the start menu or task bar. So, if you want a desktop shortcut, you have to add it to the start menu, drag it off the start menu onto the desktop, and then delete it off the start menu.

I experienced this problem as well, and is very disheartening. So many basic operations from good Windows version are either missing or very hard to discover on Windows 10. There was absolutely no _good_ thought put into its UI choices.

Don't forget WSL, that's truly a killer feature for me

and a revamped console is in the works. soon we can have emojis in our "bash for windows"

Here's one: https://alexgaynor.net/2019/mar/07/chrome-windows-exploit-se...

You're sacrificing a lot of security by staying on Windows 7. It doesn't have nearly the level of modern kernel hardening features that newer versions have.

I don't use Chrome. I use Firefox and NoScript with a whitelist.

Null page mapping protection, SMAP, and SMEP improve security if you use Firefox, by making it harder to escape the content sandbox.

Windows 7 has smep and windows 10 still lacks smap, though support is said to be imminent. Regardless they're not much of a concern when you're not running untrusted code.

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