Microsoft is currently testing an improved Start menu in Windows 10 that offers a more streamlined design that better fits the rest of the operating system.
Microsoft is available in the latest beta version of the Windows Insider Dev channel and is experimenting with changing the appearance of apps and live tiles in the Start menu. The company says the new start menu should "create a nice stage for your apps".
With this new design, the single-color backplates behind the logos in the app list of the start menu are removed. Things are now partially transparent instead, creating a cleaner look that matches Microsoft's new iconography in Windows 10. The new look of the Start menu is available in both a dark and a light theme, but is more noticeable on the light theme, as shown below.
"This design creates a nice stage for your apps, especially for the Fluent design icons for Office and Microsoft Edge, as well as for the redesigned icons for integrated apps," said Microsoft
The new color options can be applied by selecting an accent color and using Settings, Personalization and Color in Windows 10. Microsoft also says that not all beta testers will see the new start menu first to quickly identify “issues that can affect performance and reliability. "
This new design of the start menu has been tested several times by Microsoft, most recently in a video by Panos Panay, the chief product officer of the Microsoft Devices Group. However, since the new look is being tested on the Windows Insider program's Dev Channel, it doesn't necessarily mean that it will appear in this year's Windows 10 update, due to be released in the fall.
As Microsoft explained in a previous blog post, all features that come from the Windows Insider program's Dev Channel (e.g., this Start menu) are newer code that is at the beginning of the development cycle. These functions are not tied to an upcoming version.
Only features announced for the beta channel are tied to a specific version, so the new start menu may or may not result in a final non-beta version of Windows 10. Now that Panay is responsible for the team overseeing Windows, there are some hopes that it is on the way, along with the ability to see some of the other teasing features like a brand new file explorer.