Microsoft appears to be heeding the various criticisms of Windows 11's desktop, Start menu, and taskbar, promising to give users and developers more control over what they see and use on the screen.
In particular, Microsoft wants to not only ensure folks can decide what is pinned to those various spots, but that they have consistent system dialog boxes and settings to control default applications, and of course, the default browser.
"Third party applications running on Windows and Microsoft's own apps and features will have access to methods for pinning to these key user experiences and access to directing users to change defaults," Aaron Grady, group program manager for Windows Experiences, and Tali Roth, partner group product manager for Windows, wrote this month.
"Apps may offer features to lead users to the appropriate dialog or setting, but users are ultimately in control through standardized and clear experiences to inform their decisions."
Users have complained since the launch of Windows 11 that the processes for managing application defaults and taskbar pinning are more complicated than in Windows 10, and the Start menu has been an ongoing source of irritation.
So what is Redmond doing to address these issues? First, it will soon roll out a new Settings deep link URI for applications that users can use to go to the right location in Settings to change their defaults. This is extending the existing ms-settings: URI scheme, Grady and Roth wrote.
Regarding pinning, there will soon be a new API to enable apps to pin either in primary or secondary tiles to the taskbar.
"This API will always invoke a trusted Windows user experience to clarify what is being requested to be pinned and to confirm that the user indeed wants to allow the pin to occur," the pair write.
Essentially, the system will make sure that users want these pinnings to happen before they occur.
In addition, there will be a commonly supported way for developers to incorporate the ability to make their apps the default or to pin them to the taskbar.
Redmond initially will launch the new features in a Windows Insider Dev Channel in the coming months. Eventually, Microsoft will release an update to the Edge browser that will adopt the new default Settings deep link URI and public pinning APIs.
"We have taken and will continue to take steps to mitigate unrequested modifications to a user's choices and expect to do more later this year after application developers have had time to incorporate these new best practices," Grady and Roth write.
These changes come as Microsoft looks to ramp up the use of Windows 11. According to web analytics service Statcounter, which tracks 1.5 million websites, Windows 10 was running in 73.3 percent of PCs worldwide in February, with Windows 11 running on 19.1 percent.
It's continuing to climb for Windows 11, slowly but surely. In January, the number for the latest OS was 18.1 percent. However, as organizations move away from Windows 8.1 and older versions, Windows 10 also is getting a boost. Its number in January was almost 68.9 percent. ®
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