The Start Menu has been front and centre in the Windows experience for well over two decades, and so even tiny changes have a big impact on those for whom it's the first point of contact when running software on Microsoft's platform. But smartphones, as well as touch and voice inputs, have forever changed what people expect from a desktop experience.
Per The Register, Microsoft recently admitted as much and explained that its research found that people "wanted a cleaner and simpler Start, and that since so many people have smartphones, design paradigms from those devices could successfully carry over into a new Start -- being able to pan different pages with touch, for instance".
Some notable losses that Windows 10 users have lamented include the inability to resize the Windows 11 Start menu and the absence of Live Tiles in Windows 11. Live Tiles was Microsoft's Windows 8 Metro answer to the iPad. In its place are pinned apps that can be moved around and rearranged.
Again, reflecting smartphone UIs, as noted by Neowin, the Start Menu is now aligned to the centre of the screen by default, rather than the left, but users can adjust it to the traditional look via Settings > Personalization > Taskbar.
Microsoft's failure in smartphones was a sore point for Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, who claimed he was too busy dealing with the company's Windows and browser antitrust problems to focus on the mobile market.
Gates declared in 2019 that not making Windows the world's default "non-Apple" mobile operating system was his "greatest mistake ever".
"In the software world it's very particular for platforms…These are winner-takes-all markets. So the greatest mistake ever is whatever mismanagement I engaged in that caused Microsoft not to be what Android is. That is, Android is the standard phone platform -- non-Apple platform. That was a natural thing for Microsoft to win," Gates said.