Light Theme and Start Menu Changes

Windows 10 has offered both a light and dark theme for some time now. But with version 1903, the light theme gets a major overhaul. In previous versions the default task bar and start menu color was black, but you could choose between light and dark for applications and most recently, File Explorer, which gained a dark mode in the October 2018 update.

The new light theme is a true light theme, affecting not only the app backgrounds but also the taskbar and start menu. The color choices are clean and refreshing, and it really look great. It also includes a new background, based on the original blue Windows 10 background, but lightened up to match the new theme.

Text on the taskbar switches from white text on black to black text on white, and to avoid being lost on the task bar, some of the white icons such as mail and Store are color reversed to make sure they are still easily found. The File Explorer icon also got a makeover since it was too light for the light theme. Microsoft has subtly changed the color scheme to work better in either light or dark modes.

The Start Menu has probably never looked cleaner than it does in 1903, where the new color scheme really works well. Microsoft is also changing the default start menu for new accounts to a more simplified version, with just a single column of applications rather than the two it was by default previously. You can of course still customize this any way you’d like, with groups of apps, and different tile sizes, but the out of box experience is a nicer look to start with. In addition, some of the icons have been updated to fit in better with Fluent design, which is Microsoft’s design language for Windows.

The Start Menu now also supports unpinning of groups of icons from the Start Menu, so if you don’t like the default, or just want to start over, it’s easy to remove everything. In addition, Microsoft is allowing more of the default applications. The following applications can all be uninstalled via the Start Menu:

  • 3D Viewer (previously called Mixed Reality Viewer)
  • Calculator
  • Calendar
  • Groove Music
  • Mail
  • Movies & TV
  • Paint 3D
  • Snip & Sketch
  • Sticky Notes
  • Voice Recorder
  • Microsoft Solitaire Collection
  • My Office
  • OneNote
  • Print 3D
  • Skype
  • Tips
  • Weather

You’ll no longer need to brush off your PowerShell skills to remove some of these default applications.

In addition, the Start Menu is being isolated into its own process. In past builds, Start was hosted as part of the larger ShellExperienceHost.exe, but now it gets its own StartMenuExperience.exe. Anyone who has had the Start Menu stop responding will appreciate the effort here, since one of the main goals of breaking it into its own process is reliability and debugging.

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  • abufrejoval - Friday, May 24, 2019 - link

    Perhaps it is because I was already an adult when the Personal Computer launched in 1981 and a programmer, who’d been using Fortran and Cobol before and trying to find out what BASIC on a PC could do for me.

    PCs were very expensive tools, about the same price as a brand-new premium car: I got myself lots of bleeding edge PCs over the decades, because they were the base of my career. Never bought a new car in my life.

    My PCs were and are my shop, my studio, my office. I depend on them, so I keep them in the best possible state: The notion that somebody else might be managing parts of that space, other than by a very conscious act of delegation, is anywhere from unacceptable to abhorrent.

    So imagine my horror, when I saw Candy Crush tiles flipping on the screen after upgrading a Windows 7 system: This is blasphemy, rape, war, ad-extortion!

    Classic Shell came to the rescue and eventually I learned how to tame even Windows 10 to the point where it wouldn’t phone home on every click or tock. Unfortunately, the wonderful, wonderful person who developed and maintained it for years, eventually changed priorities, but so far, it just continues to work as it should, giving a Windows 7 like experience to whatever Microsoft wrongly believed they could do better afterwards.

    I read reports lately, that you could actually hijack tiles on the start menu, because of a combination of an “Internet first” design and gross negligence by Microsoft…. Why does that not surprise me?

    Designing an “operating system” as a theme park is an Apple invention, and I only wish Steve Jobs were still alive to enforce nobody duplicating that nonsense on Personal Computers.

    The 1903 update gave me a scare, because it reported that an “administrative guideline” had blocked the Classic Shell reconfiguration. Now, who but me is the administrator on my Personal Computers and I certainly didn’t block Classic Shell from taking over!

    Re-ran the command in an Admin shell and that spooky message went away. But somehow I think that the 1909 release will finish off Classic Shell for once and forever… I don’t know what I’ll do, but Candy Crunch is enough of a threat to get out the big guns: Been testing Linux desktops since Linus started shaving and Proton is getting better: Yes, I do *also* game on my PCs. I even watch movies or “streams”.

    It still doesn’t mean I mistake them for Disney Land or that anyone but me should be God on them.
  • Alexvrb - Friday, May 24, 2019 - link

    That's a big wall of text to just say "I'm a stodgey pre-internet drama queen". :P You know you can uninstall pretty much anything on there. What games do you play... Solitaire? You can still download the classic solitaire that released in the early days of Windows, relax. I love old hardware as much as the next aging nerd (mostly consoles to be honest) but that doesn't mean I want them to go backwards. Windows 7 now feels downright old and clunky, if I want nostalgia I'll just install ReactOS.
  • abufrejoval - Friday, May 24, 2019 - link

    "drama queen", well that's a first.

    "wall of text": I use an original IBM PS/2 keyboard from March 1990 these days, a Steinway in a world of e-pianos or less: Had to replace the AT-style keyboards I really liked best, because I needed the curly braces for C/C++ and those were hard to come by on the AT keyboard in German.

    These keyboards did cost more than a good laptop these days, but they make text just roll off your fingers... Guess it shows and I sure couldn't do it with one of these newer and lesser variants or squinting and dabbling on a mobile screen.

    Uninstall: Why should I have to kill rats in a brand new house? Good thing the company is paying for the MSDN because if it was my bucks for the OS, I'd truly rant.

    Games: ARK Survial Evolved mostly, on a GTX 2080ti at 42" 4K screen using an 18-Core Xeon with 128GB of DDR4 ECC RAM: Really old style, I'll admit.

    Also Doom and testing both with Steam/Proton on CentOS and Ubuntu, but also via KVM GPU pass-through on a Window 10 VM with the Linux host.

    ReactOS is all wrong: Who would want an NT undercarriage, when Linux delivers so much more horsepower? It's the Windows applications that make Windows attractive as a platform, not the OS itself: That's a pile of crap, ever since David Cutler got sidelined.
  • Agent Smith - Saturday, May 25, 2019 - link

    There’s a huge difference between ‘posting a comment’ people will actually read and your version, ‘Post a Book’.
  • abufrejoval - Friday, May 24, 2019 - link

    Started to run the update on the dozen or so Windows machines I have running, for work and for fun.

    A brand new Lenovo S730 i7 with 1TB of NVMe, took hours to go from 1803 to 1809, but only one hour to take the next step to 1903.

    But that's were things started going down hill: Most other machines just took a lot of time, certainly hours, to run the upgrade: Mind you, nothing around here still runs the OS on spinning rust, below quad logical cores or three full Gigahertz... yet, single threaded and painfully slow it went... if in fact it did: So far two systems failed somewhere beyond the 90% mark and went "much ado about nothing" or back to 1809.

    Couldn't tell you what kept them at that stage, because they really are rather similar, because I try to make that so (honestly, quite a few of them actualy started off as clones, because that works so well and so much faster these days. Turns out, that Microsoft itself has elevated cloning to the default installation method, but they like to take it s l o w l y).
  • Korguz - Saturday, May 25, 2019 - link

    " spinning rust " sorry.. but that is the dumbest term i have ever seen to refer to a mechanical hard drive..
  • Axiomatic - Friday, May 24, 2019 - link

    MSDN Sub here, I've used 1903 for about a week now and I really like it. Also being a gamer I can attest that 1903 has not introduced any issues for gaming that I know of.
  • Kougar - Friday, May 24, 2019 - link

    I actually wanted to update, but it looks like my desktop isn't being offered the May 2019 update yet. Wish MS would actually notify users the specific reason(s) why major version updates are being withheld as this is becoming a common trend with my rigs.
  • TheWereCat - Friday, May 24, 2019 - link

    just get the ms update tool?
  • Alexvrb - Friday, May 24, 2019 - link

    They've actually got a pretty good known issues page now that would give you some insight as to what major bugs they may have encountered with certain hardware/configs that could lead to a blocking bug, and the status of them

    But with that being said what you're experiencing is more than likely just the effect of a gradual rollout, which is noted at the top of that page as well. Try again in a few days, or as TheWereCat said get the Windows 10 Update Assistant.

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