Windows 11 is receiving some flak for its reportedly poor show in terms of the performance of the OS on the desktop, where some interface elements are running pretty sluggishly – or even getting to a ‘comically bad’ state of affairs as one user describes it.

This isn’t just any user, but an ex-Microsoft employee, Andy Young, who was a senior software engineer at the company for 13 years, and shared some observations (noticed by Neowin) about Windows 11 performance on X (formerly Twitter).

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As you can see in the above tweet, Young has published a video of some woefully bad Start menu performance on a PC bristling with high-end components.

The clip has received a lot of attention, prompting Young to add that: “To be clear, I love Windows. I helped build parts of it. I want it to be as good as it once was. If data suggests the software you build frustrates a significant percentage of users, it means there’s work left to be done.”

And indeed, others chime in on that thread saying they’ve encountered frustrating performance hitches, or indeed been mired in Start menu molasses similar to what Young has suffered. A common observation is the Start menu loading the wrong app (or no app at all) as performance is so bad when it opens, that the initial keystroke doesn’t register (meaning instead of typing ‘Notepad’ for example, you end up with ‘otepad’ and a Bing web search for that term).

Albacore, a regular leaker on all things Microsoft, also chipped in here with an observation of delays when positioning windows or closing messaging boxes.

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Analysis: Time for a rethink, Microsoft?

It seems Microsoft is listening regarding the highlighted Start menu issues, and Young notes that ‘Jen’ sent a DM regarding reproducing and addressing the performance slowdowns observed. Presumably that’s Jen Gentleman of the Windows engineering team (who you may have seen introducing new Windows 11 test builds on Reddit as they emerge).

As was also observed among the feedback to Young’s post, technically this is not an issue with Start menu performance itself, but rather, Windows search as it’s integrated within the Start menu – an important distinction at least for the different teams in play with Windows 11 development here. Not that the end user will care much, mind.

This is not just about the Start menu, though, but rather the overall perception of Windows 11 being somewhat wonky or slow across various parts of the desktop, when it really shouldn’t be. In Young’s case, the likely culprit is the Start menu searching the web (as well as the PC) for what’s being typed, and probably hurdles and delays therein related to the network (connection or configuration, or maybe both).

In fairness to Microsoft, when it comes to Albacore’s case, it is a test build of the 24H2 update, so unpredictable behavior and slowdowns are to be expected. Still, should the OS really be stumbling over elements as simple as closing dialog boxes, or moving the windows that are the very core of Microsoft’s OS by definition? No, it shouldn’t, let’s face it.

For us, what all this strongly suggests is that perhaps it’s time Microsoft made more of a drive to shunt off legacy bits of code (and ancient features still hanging around, like the rusty old Control Panel – which is happening, just very slowly), and to tidy up the Windows 11 codebase in general, along with smoothing over existing features to fine-tune performance.

If we had to pay a price in fewer new features being actively developed (and fewer adverts popping up here and there, ahem), we’d take that – but sadly that’s not a route Microsoft’s likely to entertain. As the company needs a constant parade of shiny new things to persuade folks that Windows 11 is the best thing ever (TM).

There is, clearly enough, still a good deal of skepticism to overcome about Windows 11, as struggling adoption levels for the OS underline. However, Microsoft best not forget that regarding the basics, there’s “work left to be done” as Young makes clear, and maybe after 24H2 has released (and Germanium is in place under the hood) is the time to focus on that reality more.

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