How Windows Has Become More User-Friendly, 5 Examples

Ben Stegner 16-06-2017

Windows gets a lot of undeserved hate. Critics love to describe Windows as a confusing mess while painting macOS as a perfect, easy to use experience Drinking the Kool Aid: 8 Reasons People Love Their Macs When you can buy a laptop for under $500, and a Chromebook will satisfy most people's computing needs, why do people insist on spending well over $1000 on a Mac? Read More . While Windows 10 does have some issues 8 Annoying Windows 10 Issues & How to Fix Them The upgrade to Windows 10 has been smooth for most, but some users will always encounter issues. Whether it's a flashing screen, network connectivity issues, or battery drain, it's time to resolve these problems. Read More , if you look back, it’s clear that Microsoft has made Windows so much more user-friendly than it once was.


Let’s look at some modern aspects of Windows that show how far it’s come in communicating to its users. These make the operating system (OS) easier to use, even for those who don’t understand computer basics.

1. Warmer Language in Dialogue Boxes

Chances are, every time you use your computer you’re going to see a few message boxes pop up. These can alert you to errors, or show tips, advice, and other important information. What you might not have noticed is that these messages have evolved in recent years. Windows has replaced once-technical messages filled with potentially confusing words with language that feels friendlier to the user.

As an example, consider the dialogue box that pops up when you’ve copied a large amount of text to your clipboard in a Microsoft Office app and attempt to close out. This is what the box said in older Office versions:

older office keep copied text message

In modern versions of Office, you’ll see this instead:


newer office copied text message

It’s a subtle change in language, but its effect is a warmer tone to the user. The first change is that the information is presented much more clearly. Compare the top line of the dialogue box on each version — the newer one asks the same question with far fewer words. Second, the text uses “us” to refer to the computer’s actions.

You can find this “we” and “us” language all around Windows 10. Have a look at the below Windows Update page and see how many times it uses “we”:

windows update we language


You don’t see any language like this in Windows 7’s equivalent page:

windows 7 update screen

Sure, these are minor changes, which may feel patronizing to longtime Windows users. But the new language isn’t as cold, and it communicates a simpler message to a novice user.

2. Less Cryptic Blue Screen Messages

The Windows Blue Screen of Death (BSoD) has become a common symbol for computer problems. Whenever Windows runs into a problem that it can’t recover from Don't Panic! Everything You Need To Know About Kernel Panics If you’ve used a computer, you will have no doubt encountered the Blue Screen of Death, or a kernel panic, where the machine restarts without warning, costing you all your work. Read More , it displays a stop error (on a blue screen, thus the name) and must restart. Now, blue screen problems can happen for a variety of reasons The 8 Most Common Reasons Why Windows Gets Unresponsive Here are some of the most common reasons your computer becomes unresponsive so you can identify and fix these issues. Read More , and they’re not always something to worry about.


But to the average user, seeing a screen like this filled with bleak text and cryptic error codes is overwhelming:

old windows blue screen

Compare this to the newer version (in Windows 8 and above). Notice that it includes a trendy “sad face” emoticon, more “we” language, far less text, and a prominently displayed error code. Thus, the user can easily Google the stop code for more information or share it with a tech-savvy friend. In Windows 10, Microsoft recently added a QR code the user can scan for more details and a webpage to visit, as well.

modern windows blue screen
Image Credit: SirLuciusLeftFoot via Wikimedia Commons


These changes have turned a visit to the Blue Screen of Death into a less terrifying experience, and they give the user something to take away.

3. Windows Defender Comes Built-in

One of the biggest security problems of Windows 7 and earlier was that the OS didn’t include an antivirus program The 10 Best Free Antivirus Software No matter what computer you're using, you need antivirus protection. Here are the best free antivirus tools you can use. Read More . If a user didn’t know any better, they could use their PC for years without any security software installed. Microsoft changed that starting in Windows 8 — they reworked Microsoft Security Essentials into Windows Defender Windows Defender: 7 Things You Must Know About Microsoft's Antivirus Solution Is Microsoft's built-in security good enough? Microsoft continuously improves its security tools. We'll show you the upsides and downsides of Windows Defender in Windows 8, Read More and baked it into the OS.

This means that every user running Windows automatically has an antivirus built-in. That’s huge and great for Windows’ overall security. While Windows Defender isn’t the absolute best anti-malware solution, it carries several benefits 4 Reasons to Use Windows Defender in Windows 10 In the past, Windows Defender was overshadowed by other options, but now it's quite a contender. Here are a few reasons why you should consider dropping your security suite in favor of Windows Defender. Read More over its competitors. It receives updates through Windows Update, doesn’t nag the user to pay for a premium version, and has advanced features if you want them.

You might still elect to use other security software The Best Antivirus Software for Windows 10 Want to tighten security on your PC? Here are the best antivirus software options for Windows 10. Read More , which is fine. But having a solid antivirus — as opposed to nothing — set as the default is a huge step in making Windows more user-friendly for all folks. Light computer users are thus protected from malware without having to download anything or deal with pop-ups advertising paid versions.

4. Search Is a Hundred Times Better

Do you have an old Windows XP computer sitting around that you just can’t get rid of? 5 Reasons Why You Love Windows XP & What You Sacrifice Nearly 30% of computers are still running Windows XP. It was a stable and reliable system for years, but all good things come to an end. Almost no good reasons to keep using Windows XP... Read More Try something: load up your desktop, open the Search function, and look for a file.

Still waiting?

Windows XP’s search function was horrendous compared to current iterations. It provided too many criteria and options when you just wanted to search for something quickly, took forever to search, and annoyed you with a stupid animated dog. If you couldn’t remember where you put a file or what you named it, search wasn’t going to help you.

Fast-forward to modern Windows versions and it’s amazing how much the search functionality has improved. Now you can search not only for files, but also Control Panel/Settings entries, programs, and more. It’s wicked-fast and lets you configure advanced search parameters if needed. Most users don’t even need to augment Windows Search with an alternative What Are the Fastest Tools for Windows Desktop Search? Search is one of the digital tools we take for granted and heavily rely on. Fortunately, Windows comes with a handy search feature. Could third-party tools be better and faster? We made the test. Read More  because it’s that good.

Of course, it’s a little unfair to judge a search function from 2001 against ones from 2009 and 2015. But it’s a great example of an improvement Windows made that boosted the productivity of average users.

5. Settings App Makes Configuration Easy

Windows 10 has a split personality when it comes to changing settings. Most advanced users swear by the Control Panel for making modifications to system options, but Microsoft is slowly killing it off Why Microsoft Is Killing the Windows Control Panel The Control Panel is being decommissioned. In Windows 10, the Settings app has adopted most of its features in a more stylish and mobile-friendly interface. Is that really necessary? Read More in favor of the Settings app. While you can’t tweak every setting from the app, it provides an easier way to change options The Windows 10 Settings Guide: How to Do Anything and Everything Do you know your way around the Settings app in Windows 10? Here's everything you need to know. Read More than the Control Panel does.

The Settings app divides options into clear groups, with tabs representing all the headers in that group. Compared to the Control Panel, it’s a lot easier to follow. Many Control Panel entries have related settings on the left sidebar that take you to hidden menus. However, because it’s hard to access these menus from anywhere else, it feels like a confusing trail at times.

A novice user isn’t going to tweak every setting Windows 10 has to offer. But they’re more likely to poke around and change a few basic values in the app than they are in the Control Panel. It explains options better and links to Microsoft help pages for more info if needed.

Eventually, the Settings app will totally replace the Control Panel. Doing this will make Windows Settings easier to change for everyone.

How Has Windows Improved for You?

We’ve covered five big ways that Windows has become more user-friendly. Each of these requires less learning on the user’s part and allows them to better interact with Windows.

Some hardcore users might argue that these changes are bad or remove functionality, but we think improving Windows for all is a smart idea. As Windows 10 evolves The Latest Windows 10 Version Won't Be the Last One What is the latest Windows 10 version? How long is it supported? And why did Microsoft switch to a service model? Answers within! Read More , chances are we’ll see even more enhancements on this front.

What advancements has Windows made to become more user-friendly for you? Do you appreciate any of the above changes? Tell us what you think in the comments section below!

Image Credits: Yayayoyo, Odua Images/Shutterstock

Related topics: Blue Screen of Death, Windows 10, Windows 7, Windows Defender, Windows Search, Windows XP.

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  1. Someone
    January 12, 2019 at 7:09 am

    My Windows 10 operating system stupidly decided that it will not recognize my phone as a device anymore. I keep having issues with certain devices if I plug them into my Windows 10 computer versus my Windows XP computer. This is another reason why Windows 10 is a downgrade. On another note, I had to tweak Windows 10 aggressively to stop the forced updates since I am a university student that needs time to do WORK, not UPDATES. Another reason why Windows 10 is a downgrade. When I tweaked Windows 10 so much, I had to use a special internet browser when using Microsoft services since Microsoft can't spy on me in a certain way like it used to. That is the 3rd downgrade since I had to go out of my way to use a special internet browser instead of any internet browser. A 4th downgrade of Windows 10 is that it wastes space in your storage when you do updates that could have been used for better things. This article is irrelevant when people need to do work easily without forced updates and stupid device recognition errors bombarding them.

  2. Don Wickson
    April 17, 2018 at 5:14 pm

    Windows 10 takes too much control away. I can't stop it from shutting down after Update, for instance, and have no idea when updates will occur. Too often, I've returned home to discover anything I had running has been shut down, forcing me to start again and hope that Windows doesn't shut me down, again.

    Windows 10 is too slow. It makes NO sense that operations are faster using a Windows emulator on Linux.

    Crashes WAY too often. 3 per day, on average, since I started logging them all.

    No help? Sure, if I'm online, I can search forums and maybe get some useful information from someone at random. When I'm not online (or need help GETTING online).....there's no information at all.

    Unable to remove junk (like "Groove") from Windows "All Apps", since there's so much clutter.

    Hidden/mystery stuff: It was months before I found out about Win-R. A lot stuff is hard to find (control panel's ALWAYS a time consuming search).

    Overall, much is inconvenient. Much is intolerable. The worst is "Update", which takes over my computer. I sit down to work on something, but Update basically says, "No, not today. You can NOT use your computer." And, of course, the next day is spent recovering everything screwed up today. Two days lost and not even, at the very least, ANY indication that Update actually improved anything.

    • Lugh
      June 15, 2018 at 6:07 am

      @ Don:
      "Crashes WAY too often. 3 per day, on average, since I started logging them all"

      From your general descriptions, but especially the above, something is clearly wrong with your Win10. I can't remember when my Win10 crashed last, once or twice in 2017 sometime.

      Have someone do a fresh install for you, and show you how to delay updates until you're ready for them.

      • Don Wickson
        June 15, 2018 at 9:55 pm

        Not sure what changed (me or Windows? Who knows?) but I haven't had a crash since early May.

        I had tried delaying/disabling updates before...and now, it finally works, I guess. The disabling bit, that is. Update itself never worked.

        " clearly wrong with your Win10." No doubt. Fresh installs didn't help, and were rather expensive. Tried that twice (once downloaded, once "professionally"), and resorted to restoring system after each Update.

        I could NOT delay updates. The scheduled update time was ignored. The moment I connected, Update would take over since it is (and always has been) "overdue" by several years.

        But, that said, thankfully, Update stopped trying, and (at least) the biggest problem with Win10 is gone. As for all the other issues....

  3. G M
    September 18, 2017 at 4:32 pm

    Indeed.. My biggest things are, the settings app. Control panel is far easier. And now they are even rerouting some of the command line things for control panel to that blasted settings thing, also removing control panel from right clicking the start button.

    And just who is this "WE" and "US" microsoft is referring to? Unless my computer is sentient, which it is not. It shouldn't be referring to itself as "I" let alone "We" or "Us"

    And i've never seen a BSOD that said "Seems". it just want from stop errors, to "Something went wrong, just collecting some info then we'll restart for you" Tell us what went wrong? Microsoft is making windows in to something an idiot would be right at home. Oh and by the way, windows defender was in vista first, not 8. Get your facts straight.

    As for windows being the last version... What do you think all these updates they are pushing out are? These "Updates" are those "New" versions of windows 10, just we are forced to upgrade to them.

  4. Bruce Epper
    June 17, 2017 at 2:20 pm

    Stop messages are now completely useless unless you keep your cellphone right next to you - unlocked - so you can try to capture the QR code before it restarts. Even then, the page it drops you on is equally likely to have nothing at all to do with the error.

    Windows Defender first appeared in Vista, not Win8. At that point it could not be considered a viable AV product since it was very limited in what it scanned for, much less caught, but it was still there.

    The move from the control panel to the where-the-hell-is-it-now Settings was the dumbest move they made. At least with the Control Panel an experienced user could use small icons and go directly to the necessary settings. Now it can take a dozen clicks to find and change a setting that was previously available with 3.

    User-friendly? I think not.