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    Windows 11 unresolved UI inconsistencies in 2024 demand Microsoft’s immediate action


    Windows 11 is about two and a half years old and still has many interface inconsistencies. Microsoft continues to push updates to address this problem. However, the priority has shifted to AI and adding (half-baked) features. (And I don’t like it.)

    The company first launched the operating system on October 5, 2021, and when Panos Panay (at the time, the chief of Windows 11 and Surface devices) introduced the new version, I remember him saying things like “details matter,” “the team obsessed over every pixel,” “transparency,” “colors,” “rounded corners,” and how the team redesigned the desktop and many of the system elements and features to make it modern, fresh, and clean.

    But, this was only for some parts of the operating system since if we look closer, we can still find tons of inconsistencies, such as multiple menu designs, apps that are still based on design language from older versions of the operating system, UI elements still not fully implemented like the scrollbar, unnecessary visuals, design elements from different applications that don’t match the Windows 11 design language, features not working correctly, and more.

    Since I work with the operating system daily, I’ve collected many different inconsistencies, and I’m exposing them in this guide.

    Windows 11 design inconsistencies for 2024

    These are the design inconsistencies that Windows 11 users are still dealing with in 2024:

    Inconsistent context menus

    One of the changes on Windows 11 was the introduction of a new context menu with rounded corners and mica material. However, in 2024, the menu is still not fully implemented, as you still have to access the legacy design to find many of the missing options.

    File Explore modern context menu
    File Explore modern context menu

    In fact, I had to create a guide on how to restore the classic menu, as many users either don’t like the new design or want to avoid taking the extra steps to find an option.

    File Explore classic context menu
    File Explore classic context menu

    Also, the context menu isn’t consistent throughout the operating system since you can still find different menu designs. For example, you will access the legacy version if you invoke the context menu from certain apps (such as the Windows Terminal and Registry).

    Microsoft Edge includes a modern context menu, but it doesn’t match the Windows 11 design language (the way it should).

    Microsoft Edge context menu
    Microsoft Edge context menu

    The OneDrive context menu is another example of context menu inconsistency. Sure, it has rounded corners, but it doesn’t include the mica design elements.

    OneDrive context menu
    OneDrive context menu

    I also have to call out the Power User (Windows key + X) menu design. While the menu includes the new visual elements, it appears to have a lazy design. Microsoft can do this much better by adding an icon next to each item to make them easier to understand.

    Power User menu
    Power User menu

    Interface rendering issues

    Windows 11 also has problems rendering specific applications. For example, clicking the “Install” button from the app through the web version of the Microsoft Store will show unnecessary rendering visuals.

    Sometimes, when opening or closing the Windows Terminal, you may also experience rendering issues.

    Did you ever notice Command Prompt flashing windows appearing when you signed in to your account? These are also rendering issues. Ideally, startup scripts and different commands should run hidden.

    Also, when switching from dark to light color mode, you may need to restart some applications to apply the current color mode properly. One example is File Explorer, which can sometimes end up with a mix of light and dark colors.

    File Explorer rendering issue

    Inconsistent dark color mode

    Although I usually set the color mode to light, many users prefer the dark mode. Unfortunately, even after many updates, Windows 11 still doesn’t have a proper color mode that expands across the entire experience, as many elements haven’t been updated to match the dark theme.

    Windows 11 dark mode inconsistency
    Windows 11 dark mode inconsistencies

    You can see this when accessing a file’s properties from File Explorer, with many default apps and system tools like Control Panel, Registry Editor, Computer Management, and some troubleshooting utilities, such as Format, Windows Tools, Resource Monitor, and many more.

    Windows 11 dark mode with light Computer Management

    Furthermore, Windows 11 doesn’t even have an option to switch between the light and dark modes automatically throughout the day. (Apple’s macOS has this feature and works wonderfully.)

    Control Panel needs to disappear

    The Control Panel has been around for almost four decades and is still on Windows 11. Microsoft has proactively been trying to port the features to the Settings app. (However, it has been trying since the original release of Windows 10 back in 2015.)

    Settings app with Control Panel elements
    Settings app with Control Panel elements

    The problem with inconsistency here is that you still have two applications to change system settings, and when configuring some features from the Settings app, you still have to access the legacy experience to configure specific settings, adding unnecessary confusion to the user.

    Although the Settings app has been designed to be the primary experience for configuring features and changing the appearance of the operating system, it’s also another case of inconsistency since many of the pages still retain the design style of Windows 10.

    Settings app with Windows 10 elements
    Settings app with Windows 10 elements

    Furthermore, sometimes, you may even encounter rendering issues with the sidebar.

    Modern apps don’t align the design

    Some system applications and components still don’t align with the operating system’s design language, or you will find many inconsistencies.

    For example, on Microsoft Edge, the menus have been updated to closely align with the new design language, but the browser frame doesn’t include blur and transparency effects to this day.

    Microsoft Edge inconsistent interface
    Microsoft Edge inconsistent interface

    Although Windows 11 has a new, modern version of File Explorer that uses the Windows UI Library version 3 (WinUI 3) framework, the app still has design inconsistencies. For instance, it still relies on legacy elements to change settings.

    At the time of this writing, Dave W Plummer, a former developer at Microsoft, revealed some details on how the “Format” feature was created. Dave revealed that the feature was built nearly 30 years ago and was supposed to be a temporary integration for the Windows NT system. However, to this day, the feature remains unchanged.

    File Explorer Format UI
    File Explorer Format UI

    By now, File Explorer should at least have a settings page interface like Notepad’s settings page.

    Notepad settings page
    Notepad settings page

    Since not all the options are available in the modern context menu, you must take extra steps to access the legacy menu using the “Shift + Right-click” shortcut or clicking the “Show more options” setting.

    It’s also interesting that the legacy version of File Explorer still exists if you access the “Windows Tools” folder.

    File Explorer new (left), old (right)
    File Explorer new (left), old (right)

    Furthermore, Windows 11 still includes a slew of legacy applications. I understand the need for some apps to maintain compatibility. However, by now, we should have tools that seamlessly manage modern and legacy features.

    Microsoft is already deprecating tools like WordPad and Step Recorder and integrating many features from legacy tools into the Settings app, such as the ability to manage drives and partitions. However, many tools still remain untouched.

    Some examples include Event Viewer, Registry Editor, Performance Monitor, Resource Monitor, System Information, and Task Scheduler.

    Windows 11 Event Viewer
    Windows 11 Event Viewer

    Also, Windows Memory Diagnostic, Defragment and optimization drives, Local Security Policy, System Configuration, Services, Print Management, Computer Management, and others.

    Computer Management
    Computer Management

    Furthermore, some legacy applications may even include elements from the Windows Vista era and older versions. For example, the wizard from the Disk Management tool still includes design elements from Vista.

    Disk Management wizard
    Disk Management wizard

    System recovery stuck with old design

    If we look at the system recovery tools, we can also find that they still remain with the design language of Windows 10 and even older versions of the operating system.

    For instance, the Windows Recovery Environment (WinRE), the interface you access from the “Recovery” settings page when using the “Advanced startup” option, is still stuck with the Windows 10 design style, with a blue background and white fonts.

    Windows Recovery Environment interface
    Windows Recovery Environment interface

    I’m not expecting a complex interface makeover since it will require more resources and components that are not necessary in this environment. However, the interface should (at least) be similar to the Out-of-box Experience (OOBE) visuals.

    OOBE interface style
    OOBE interface style

    Also, even though the OOBE has received a significant interface update, you will still find some inconsistencies, including legacy scrollbar design, poorly designed elements like simple links instead of properly designed options, and some visuals that do not align correctly with the interface.

    Windows 11 OOBe legacy scrollbar
    Windows 11 OOBe legacy scrollbar

    If we look a bit deeper, even Restore Point and other features available through WinRE still use visual elements from the Windows 7 era, which don’t align with the design language of Windows 11.

    Windows 11 System Restore interface
    Windows 11 System Restore interface

    The Windows Setup is another area that Microsoft has neglected for many years. If I have to be more specific, the setup experience has been virtually the same since Windows 8, with the purple colors and an app frame from many years ago.

    Windows 11 Setup old design
    Windows 11 Setup old design

    Microsoft is preparing an update for the Out-of-box Experience and Windows Recovery Environment. However, these are minor changes that will continue to carry legacy designs.

    Safe Mode design problems

    Safe Mode is an environment that loads the operating system with the basic functionalities and disables anything else that isn’t necessary to allow you to troubleshoot and resolve software and hardware problems.

    Although the interface follows the operating system’s design language, many features do not work as expected. For example, you can open the Settings app but cannot access most of the settings that could help you troubleshoot a problem, such as removing updates.

    Windows 11 Safe Mode
    Windows 11 Safe Mode

    Another design issue is that you cannot use the Windows Terminal to access command-line tools that can help you diagnose and fix a problem. You can still access the legacy version of Command Prompt and PowerShell. However, Microsoft has made the terminal the default experience on Windows 11 and doesn’t want you to use the legacy consoles. Yet, you cannot use it in Safe Mode.

    Conclusion

    Windows 11 introduces a more sleek and modern interface and new features that set the operating system apart from older versions. However, there are still many functionality and design inconsistencies throughout the system.

    The operating system still mixes the old with new elements, the dark color mode doesn’t apply everywhere, and menus do not align across the experiences. You will find rendering issues here and there. And there’s still a lot of confusion with the Settings app since the Control Panel and many other legacy components still exist.

    Microsoft has been addressing many inconsistency problems, but not at a rapid pace, and when considering that version 24H2 could be the last major update for this version, it’s clear that not every issue will be fixed in this version.

    I wish the company would use a different approach. Instead of continuously pushing new features and AI integration, I think Microsoft should dedicate some feature updates specifically to only include interface changes to fully align the experience with the Windows 11 design language.

    What are your thoughts on the Windows 11 design inconsistencies? Let me know in the comments.



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