Windows 10’s Start Menu has the best icon ever

advertising blitz windows 10 anniversary update will double start menu ads windows10startmenu big
win10iconThis has to be the most powerful icon ever.

If you’ve downloaded any of the early builds of Windows 10 from the Windows Insider program, including the freshly released build 10041, you’re probably relishing the powerful new Start Menu Microsoft has finally gotten so completely right.

There was a lot to dislike about Windows 8, from those counterintuitive Charms to the fact that there were two versions of lots of ordinary stuff, like Internet Explorer and the Control Panel. Ugh. But the main thing many people found so odious when it first came out was the Start screen – that completely revamped interface that was both forward-looking and confusing as all get out.

Windows 10 polishes and refines that screen, and adds back the Start menu. And there’s one little icon that pulls the whole thing together to make it all work beautifully: a double-ended arrow at the top right corner of the menu. At least it’s an arrow in the newest builds; in earlier builds it was a multiheaded arrow. This icon easily expands the Start menu into a full-blown screen, and when in full screen mode, it lets you shrink right back down again.

It’s simple, it’s intuitive, and it tells the user precisely how to get back to an ordinary desktop experience. I love you, you little son of a gun.

win10startscreen

Sure, in Windows 8 you could toggle the Start screen on and off just by pressing the Windows key. I do it all the time. But because of how the Start Screen works, it was an all-or-nothing affair. Hit it and the entire screen was consumed, or it wasn’t. And not everyone was comfortable with the full-screen view. I know my mom doesn’t know how to get out of the Start Screen right now on her Windows 8-powered HP system, for example.

And the existence of this icon means there is, in fact, a Start Menu. And not just any Start Menu, but a new menu, one that is designed to work within the framework of a more modern Windows instead of replicating old functionality. It would’ve been too easy to simply break the Start Menu and Screen into their own fiefdoms, as Microsoft did with so many features in Windows 8, but instead the company took the route of integration.

There are other tweaks introduced in the newest build, including a new transparent background for the Start menu and a slew of new icons for menus and features. But Windows 10 Build 10041 still isn’t perfect. Major feature additions are lacking. Cortana works as before, no new apps have been added, and Project Spartan is nowhere to be seen. Users are also reporting a number of nasty bugs in the build, which is perhaps to be expected; it’s only been released to the Fast track, after all, which means the build was subject to limited in-house testing.

But sometimes the little things make a big difference, and Microsoft nailed it with this one.

Best. Icon. Ever.

Computing

Beam up the videos: AirPlay support is coming to VLC player

At CES 2019, the developers of VLC player announced they are adding support for Apple's Airplay feature, allowing consumers to beam video and other content from their iPhone and Android devices to an Apple TV. 
Computing

Style up your MacBook Air with one of these great cases or sleeves

Whether you’re looking for added protection or a stylish flourish, you’re in the right place for the best MacBook Air cases. We have form-hugging cases, luxurious covers and padded sleeves priced from $10 to $130. Happy shopping!
Smart Home

IKEA’s new blinds for the smart home arrive April 1 in the U.S.

The Swedish furniture giant IKEA is adding a new product called FYRTUR, which turns out to be a new set of blackout blinds for the smart home that can be controlled by remote or programmed through the company's app.
Movies & TV

Amazon launches IMDb Freedive, an ad-supported streaming service

IMDb, the information-rich film and TV website, launched a free, ad-supported, streaming video channel in the U.S. this week. IMDb Freedive offers a television series and feature films on the IMDb website and on Fire TV devices.
Computing

Faster new PCIe 5.0 standard leapfrogs the best feature of AMD’s Ryzen 3

PCIe 5.0 will bring even faster data transfers, but it may only be found on HPCs and servers initially. The standard is four times faster than your current PC at transferring data, and new devices could appear later this year.
Deals

From Chromebooks to MacBooks, here are the best laptop deals for January 2019

Whether you need a new laptop for school or work or you're just doing some post-holiday shopping, we've got you covered: These are the best laptop deals going right now, from discounted MacBooks to on-the-go gaming PCs.
Product Review

LG Gram 14 proves 2-in-1 laptops don’t need to sacrifice battery for light weight

The LG Gram 14 2-in-1 aims to be very light for a laptop that converts to a tablet. And it is. But it doesn’t skimp on the battery, and so it lasts a very long time on a charge.
Computing

Keep your laptop battery in tip-top condition with these handy tips

Learn how to care for your laptop's battery, how it works, and what you can do to make sure yours last for years and retains its charge. Check out our handy guide for valuable tips, no matter what type of laptop you have.
Computing

Protect your expensive new laptop with the best Macbook cases

If you recently picked up a new MacBook, you’ll want something to protect its gorgeous exterior. Here, we've gathered the best MacBook cases and covers, whether you're looking for style or protection.
Computing

Watch out for these top-10 mistakes people make when buying a laptop

Buying a new laptop is exciting, but you need to watch your footing. There are a number of pitfalls you need to avoid and we're here to help. Check out these top-10 laptop buying mistakes and how to avoid them.
Computing

Don't spend a fortune on a PC. These are the best laptops under $300

Buying a laptop needn't mean spending a fortune. If you're just looking to browse the internet, answer emails, and watch Netflix, you can pick up a great laptop at a great price. These are the best laptops under $300.
Computing

Dell XPS 13 vs. Asus Zenbook 13: In battle of champions, who will be the victor?

The ZenBook 13 UX333 continues Asus's tradition of offering great budget-oriented 13-inch laptop offerings. Does this affordable machine offer enough value to compete with the excellent Dell XPS 13?
Gaming

Take a trip to a new virtual world with one of these awesome HTC Vive games

So you’re considering an HTC Vive, but don't know which games to get? Our list of 25 of the best HTC Vive games will help you out, whether you're into rhythm-based gaming, interstellar dogfights, or something else entirely.
Computing

The Asus ZenBook 13 offers more value and performance than Apple's MacBook Air

The Asus ZenBook 13 UX333 is the latest in that company's excellent "budget" laptop line, and it looks and feels better than ever. How does it compare to Apple's latest MacBook Air?