Why Microsoft Is Killing the Windows Control Panel

Gavin Phillips 24-11-2015

It is a cruel world, and the demise of the Control Panel leaves me wondering “is nothing sacred to Microsoft?” So while users new to the Windows experience may rejoice in the new Settings panel, what of us older generations brought up with the Control Panel?


Will we find accord for the new Settings app, or be left yearning for the familiar Control Panel interface Unlock Windows Potential: Control Panel Demystified If you want to be the master of your Windows experience, the Control Panel is where it's at. We untangle the complexity of this power tool. Read More ? Let’s look at what’s new, what’s changed, and what’s yet to happen.

Why Is It Changing?

Windows 10 has brought about a massive amount of change What the MakeUseOf Team Thinks of Windows 10 The techsphere loves Windows 10, but many users are up in arms over serious issues with the new platform. What does MakeUseOf think? We asked our team for opinions on Windows 10 and here they... Read More to our computers. Streamlining access Will Windows 10 Make Productive People Even More Productive? It's official, the new Windows will be a perfect 10. Why Windows 10? Because Windows 7 8 (ate) 9. And here is what you will find inside the Technical Preview. Read More and boosting productivity Microsoft Is Nurturing Cross-Platform Productivity Tools Microsoft's collection of productivity apps is ever growing. We have compiled an overview of the apps that keep you working smoothly. We also explore how new additions will enhance the current suite. Read More ran central to the design philosophy of the operating system, and it can be seen in abundance with new Windows shortcuts Get Organized in Windows 10 with New Apps & Shortcuts Will you be using Windows 10 a lot? We have compiled the best ways to use Microsoft's new operating system to keep your PC organized so you can get more done. Read More , automated smart-files, and of course the ongoing restructuring of core Windows features.

Windows 10 Settings panel

The Control Panel is no different; reformation and issue resolution are found in every nook and cranny of Windows 10.

What’s New in the Settings Menu?

A fair few things, actually. First off, a new shortcut Windows Keyboard Shortcuts 101: The Ultimate Guide Keyboard shortcuts can save you hours of time. Master the universal Windows keyboard shortcuts, keyboard tricks for specific programs, and a few other tips to speed up your work. Read More : Windows + I. This brings up the Settings app. Otherwise, head to the Start Menu. It should be nestled between “File Explorer” and “Power.” Either way, you’ll notice a stark difference to the traditional Control Panel. The Settings menu is now a sleeker set of nine-menus, along with the vastly improved Find a Setting search feature in the top-right corner:


Windows 10 VPN Settings panel

In fact, having scrutinized both the Settings app and the original Control Panel, it would seem that the difference is in the functionality. Meaning that the new Settings menu isn’t the finished article yet; that the Control Panel is set to leave us, as soon as Microsoft decides how long to offer the legacy feature for.

Notably, a number of Windows 10 features are well integrated into the Settings app How to Change Default Apps and Settings in Windows 10 Here's how to change default programs and settings in Windows 10 if you aren't happy with how it behaves out of the box. Read More :

Windows 10 Maps Settings


Of equal note are the trickle of disappearances from the Control Panel itself. Access the Control Panel by right-clicking the Start Menu and selecting Control Panel from the context menu. There are no longer Control Panel entries for the Action Center, Location Settings, or Windows Update, all having migrated to the Settings app. However, many users have noted that following the transfer the options available to users have decreased, and indeed in the case of Windows Update changed altogether.

The Control Panel will slowly but surely become a ghost panel, devoid of any meaningful system settings. Or, and a more likely assumption would be of an accessible Control Panel for any legacy features 6 Retired Windows Features We'd Rather Forget Windows has gone through a lot of features over the years. Here are a few nobody really misses. Do you remember them? Read More , such as drivers.

Why Is the Control Panel Changing?

The original Control Panel appeared way back in Windows 2.0. That’s 1987. I hadn’t even arrived in the world, yet! Its longevity as a central Windows tool has come under fire in our touchscreen-centric age: it simply doesn’t do the jobs it needs to when there are sausage-fingers involved How Well Does Windows 10 Work on a Tiny Tablet? Windows 10 is taking the devices of disgruntled Windows 8 and curious Windows 7 users by storm. The PC experience is great, but how does it perform on small screens? Matthew tested Windows 10 on... Read More .

Windows 10 Control Panel


The new Settings panel is the opposite of this. Large buttons, single toggles for most important features, a questionable reduction in potential options for new users, and a somewhat easier-to-learn experience for those with new touch-enabled hardware. While I haven’t used the Settings app on a touchscreen device, the UI design screams touch-functionality, delivering users an intuitive experience with clear options, less clutter, more relevant information in a universal package.

It would seem the Control Panel is destined to become a mere legacy tool. Or, it will fall into the same bracket as the Run command, and the Command Prompt itself 7 Common Tasks The Windows Command Prompt Makes Quick & Easy Don't let the command prompt intimidate you. It's simpler and more useful than you expect. You might be surprised by what you can accomplish with just a few keystrokes. Read More : only used by those in the know, or those users that could be bracketed “advanced.”

If and when the Control Panel is stripped for further parts, you could always resort to God Mode 9 Simple Tricks You Didn't Know Were Possible in Windows Windows has many simple tricks up its sleeve that are easily overlooked. Everything we show you here is native to Windows, no gimmicks. How many of these do you know? Read More and create a folder to give you access to all of the administration functions you could desire.

So, Control Panel Is Dying?

Well, yes. Really slowly. Gabe Aul, Windows and Devices Group Vice President alluded to this in a recent Tweet:


Windows 10 is designed to please literally everyone, and as such features like the Control Panel were always going to receive some Windows 10 treatment. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing. Once the entire spectrum of Control Panel features and settings makes the transition to the Settings app, I think it could be an excellent feature that should encourage more regular users to interact with their system settings. Now each setting comes with a superior description (vs. Windows 7, 8, 8.1 etc.), an easier-to-navigate layout, and the all-important search tool, Microsoft may well be onto a winner.

Remember when categories were introduced in Windows XP? There was a whole pile of fuss around those changes, too. But eventually they became integrated into the Windows experience, and many people embraced those. Given time, I’m sure the many will embrace the Settings app, too.

Should the Settings app take over, or should the Control Panel remain a legacy feature for those who want it?

Related topics: Computer Maintenance, Windows 10.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

Whatsapp Pinterest

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Mike
    February 2, 2018 at 8:31 pm

    Doesn't matter to me, I'm going Linux, there I can get any graphic user interface I want and:
    It is easier to install,
    Updates faster
    Infinitely customizable.
    Oh, Did I mention it is free...

  2. Deave Cuvox
    December 7, 2017 at 1:29 am

    The marriage of mobile and desktop has really killed desktop usability in the past few years. Instead of having two separate systems that are finely tuned to both, there's this new insistence on cramming it all into one system in which one side has to be sacrificed for the usability of the other. In the case of Windows 10, that was the desktop side.

    We actually see these design choices even in MakeUseOf; the new interface looks and is absurd to use on a desktop device. The entire content of the page is crammed into one thin column like you'd expect to see on a phone, with large buttons and enormous padding suitable for touchscreen fingers. With more precise point-and-click, however, the entire interface makes no sense at all, and just represents a massive waste of usable space.

    Microsoft is not going to maintain legacy support forever. They do keep backwards compatibility for as long as possible, but it has to go eventually. Just like they killed Win16 in the past, they'll eventually kill Win32 and replace it with the UWP, kill Control Panel and replace it with settings, and kill a host of other legacy features seen on Windows devices. The benefit of staying relevant in an increasingly mobile world comes at the cost of almost everything else, especially flexibility.

    In this respect, despite everything I despise about the Apple ecosystem, I agree with their decision to keep mobile and desktop separate. There are legitimate benefits in having an integrated environment, but if that comes at the cost of usability, as in the case of the majority of "modern" design choices, it should not be a choice worth taking.

    • Olivia
      September 26, 2018 at 7:09 am

      ;_;. Sausage finger optimized programs/websites/apps really kill productivity. So many movements for scant few effects... I'm ok with this on my 5' phone, but I am NOT ok with it on my 15.6' laptop. I have that fancy mouse and keyboard for a reason, dammit.

  3. Zach S.
    July 31, 2017 at 3:30 am

    As someone who has come from Win Xp to Windows 10, I still prefer the control panel just because I am familiar with it. Not a fan of the new look of the settings but with time I'm sure I'll accept it...

    • Gavin Phillips
      July 31, 2017 at 9:02 am

      Aye. It does take a little getting used too, Zach. And the regular Control Panel is still there.

  4. Robert P. O'Reilly ph. d.
    February 15, 2017 at 4:31 pm

    Magnificent piece of work on Win 10. Along with Heimdal's lessons and the W10 text, I'll be quite some time absorbing it all and putting it to work on my computers. Will try to share selected sections with members of our community.

    Robert P. O'Reilly ph. d.

  5. Anonymous
    June 20, 2016 at 7:10 pm

    I think that Microsoft should have two separate versions, one for devices with touchscreen and those without, It will make it really hard to use Windows 10 in an office setting. Also is it just me or is Microsoft taking some of the settings away from the user? I really hope that's not the route they're taking because that's one of the reasons I've never used an Apple product.

    • Gavin Phillips
      June 23, 2016 at 2:25 pm

      Well, they have somewhat attempted that this time around. Windows 8 attempted to cater for a tablet/mobile device market that wasn't quite there yet, and was also problematic in many other ways. Windows 10 has pared this "mobilification" back a little, and where it exists has been implemented differently.

      The same settings are there, albeit with some small changes, but they are accessed through the different menus. You can access everything through the Control Panel, but not through the new Settings menu.

  6. Anonymous
    December 1, 2015 at 9:09 am

    "Remember when categories were introduced in Windows XP? There was a whole pile of fuss around those changes, too. But eventually they became integrated into the Windows experience, and many people embraced those"

    Has it been since XP?? And thru Vista, 7, 8, 8.1, and now 10 I'm still putting it into small icon mode.Maybe because I grew up on 3.1 and 95

    • Gavin Phillips
      December 8, 2015 at 10:53 am

      I guess we do just stay true to what we grew up with in some cases. If it works, why not?

  7. Anonymous
    November 26, 2015 at 12:46 am

    When they tell me that everything has been completely ported over to Settings from the Control Panel, then I'll judge whether it's good or bad for me. Patience.

    • Gavin Phillips
      December 8, 2015 at 10:54 am

      Fair enough. It seems like the entire port could take some time, so we might end up between the two for a little while. Thanks for reading.

  8. jonen560ti
    November 25, 2015 at 8:30 pm

    Im fine as long as EVERY single setting is carried over. otherwise, im going to try and switch to linux

    • Gavin Phillips
      December 8, 2015 at 10:55 am

      Yes, though I would hope they'd keep some form of the Control Panel alive for those that still want/need/require it for their day-to-day. Thanks for reading.

  9. Indy
    November 25, 2015 at 7:09 pm

    Ugly interface of "Settings"... Microsoft people are mad and are ruining an excellent product like Windows 7 and Microsoft's reputation as well. Every time, they bring another riddle, making simple thing difficult to find and work with. Now, they are champion in only one product, i.e., Office Suite. Otherwise, Linux Mint is much better option.

    • Gavin Phillips
      December 8, 2015 at 10:57 am

      You're not a fan of the touch screen style ported to your desktop then? In some ways they really have simplified it. The new settings panel is likely more intuitive for new users to Windows 10, though doesn't compare if you're used to the Control Panel. Perhaps goes with pre and post exposure. Thanks for reading.

  10. Anonymous
    November 25, 2015 at 10:04 am

    Who wants to drive every few years a new car with a totally new way of steering? Who wants every couple of years a new way of reading the time? Why doesn't Windows stay with the known terms and places of settings, adjustments and controls and does the changes behind those places. Out of sight of the user? I really feel like having to learn a hole new steeringsystem to drive a car but in this case with quite a few more buttons and settings, hide in places you were not used to. It does not make the "driving" comfortable and safe

    • Anonymous
      November 25, 2015 at 5:45 pm

      I wouldn't compare this to steering, more like setting the clock, which is different in every new car I get (and twice a year I have to pull out the manual to adjust for DST).

      I've got 10 on my desktop and 8.1 on my tablet. I don't have a problem with either (including using the control panel with show all on my 8" screen with my fat fingers).

    • bogdan
      November 25, 2015 at 7:57 pm

      Can't really compare those to Windows - this is technology, programming. We're still discussing what's best because things still evolve - remember that it took quite a while for the steering wheel to be invented in the first place.

      Even though it's not believable, computers are pretty new. Think 5-10 years after the invention of the car. That's where we are now in regards to UI/UX. We still have a lot to learn.

    • Gavin Phillips
      December 8, 2015 at 10:59 am

      This has certainly arisen to accommodate those touch-users, but the Settings panel does have potential even for desktop users. It just seems to be a case of 'how long will it take to migrate all the settings?' and hanging on for the final product. Should Microsoft have finalised this aspect of Windows 10 before release? Maybe another question...

      Thanks for reading.

  11. Don
    November 25, 2015 at 9:31 am

    I had Windows 10 for a month or two. Linux Mint is great !!

    • Gavin Phillips
      December 8, 2015 at 10:59 am

      Another conversion - do you miss anything?

      • Don
        December 10, 2015 at 1:53 pm

        Not yet :)

  12. ReadandShare
    November 25, 2015 at 7:07 am

    What's in a name? I'd like to see a 'one stop' area for all OS options settings or controls.

    • Gavin Phillips
      December 8, 2015 at 11:00 am

      Indeed, that seems to be the Settings panel Microsoft is building. We'll have to wait and see what the final product looks like. Thanks for reading.

  13. Keith Smith
    November 25, 2015 at 5:47 am

    it is all about control - Microsoft Vs Windowa Users - Automatic Updates forced,no hint ,constant spying - screw that . Linux,here I come

    • Gavin Phillips
      December 8, 2015 at 11:01 am

      Many others have advocated jumping to Linux, so you're not alone in that camp. What distro will you use as replacement? Will you miss anything? Thanks for reading.

  14. Anonymous
    November 25, 2015 at 4:52 am

    I like the new settings app ok, but I really wish they'd bring back to ability to pick any color. There are also quite a few other Control Panel apps that are much more useful than their settings counterpart.

    • Gavin Phillips
      December 8, 2015 at 11:02 am

      Interesting. Hadn't noticed the change, to be honest (colours), but yes, Control Panel currently holds more administrative tools than the Settings panel. Thanks for reading.

  15. Anonymous
    November 24, 2015 at 8:52 pm

    I've reinstalled 10 at least 8 times because setting the appearance, desktop background, frame/windows colors, and font settings really suck when it comes to gettnig what you want/where you want. 10 is NOT Senior friendly. Finally got 'some' satisfaction when I went online and perused some user submitted '10 Themes'. Not sure I could do it again if I had to. Chose background color first (I think) and then found a theme I thought I liked. The font settings are a joke IMO as it is not Senior friendly. Font isn't bold enough to read no matter what I try. Love the magnifier - never used it before 10. Couldn't live without it. Hope this improves.

    Off the cuff, don't get me started on networling XP Pro with 10. I'm beginning to think that along with NO SUPPORT FOR XP THERE IS NO NETWORKING WITH 10 AND XP. MUO should see if this can be done and publish the 'How To's'!!

    • Anonymous
      November 25, 2015 at 1:57 am

      @Wm Brown,

      Let's start with a few assumptions:
      1. You're using the Windows Firewall on both machines and both machines are on the same LAN.
      2. The Firewall Profile on both computers is set to allow access to Windows File and Printer Sharing. The Home and Work profiles normally do this by default.
      3. You have configured both computers to sign in with a username and password and that you know those credentials on both sides. The least-effort combination is to use the same username and password is one that is identical on both computers. Note that a blank password will not work for this purpose.

      On the Windows 10 PC, open Control Panel and Find Homegroup Options, then Advanced Sharing Settings

      For your chosen Firewall profile (probably Home or Work), make sure that File Sharing is turned on. Make sure that Network Discovery is turned on.

      Pick a folder you'd like to share. Right click on it. Choose Properties, then Sharing. Click Advanced Sharing. Tick Share This Folder. Give it a name you'll recognize. Click Permissions. Set them to Everyone, Full Control. Back out to the main folder tabs.
      Click Security. Add your known Windows login name. Set their permission to whatever you feel you need (probably Read Only or Full control). Remove permission from the Everyone Group if security is a matter of concern.

      On your Windows XP machine, go in to Folder Options, Options tab and make sure Windows File Sharing is enabled (IIRC it's at the bottom of the list).

      Wait a little while for Windows to sort out what computers are on the network Or reboot your machines, making sure to let the Windows 10 start up all the way before starting the XP box.

      In my experience, at this point, you should be able to browse to the Windows 10 PC and access its files, but if you can't there's a couple other things to do. One is that you can go in to Advanced Firewall configuration and ensure that there's a rule allowing in and outbound traffic on TCP port 445. Do this on both sides.
      The other fix is to just turn off the Windows Firewall, which I don't recommend.

      I've not had a problem getting Windows XP or Server 2003 to grab files from new Windows versions. The only really problematic bits are that Microsoft keeps moving the Firewall configuration settings and the kind of non-intuitive difference between the "Share" button and the "Advanced Sharing" button under Sharing options.

      • Gavin Phillips
        December 8, 2015 at 11:04 am

        Thank you for your detailed comment. I don't have any experience networking XP and Windows 10, so this is great input.

  16. Anonymous
    November 24, 2015 at 6:04 pm

    I prefer the newer settings app to take over the old control panel.

    • Gavin Phillips
      December 8, 2015 at 11:03 am

      Thanks, Sean. Are you using Windows 10 primarily on a touch device, or are you a desktop user?