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State of the Windows: How many layers of UI inconsistencies are in Windows 11?

Hello and happy new year!

It’s 2023, and Windows 11 is finally a mature operating system that most people would be happy to use. Sun Valley has finally arrived, and it’s all about a long overdue reinvestment in design under Panos Panay’s leadership. But is it enough?
Let’s take a look.

For the purpose of this research, I used Windows 11 build 25267, which as of now is the latest Insider Dev build.

Layer 1: Windows 11/WinUI3 elements

Windows 11 brought in a new design language, putting an emphasis on rounded corners and gradients and a new transparent background called Mica, which aims to replace the old Acrylic design.

If one would compare Windows 10 applications to Windows 11, it would notice that for the first time in years (decades for some like Notepad), their UI has been significantly redesigned to be in line with the new design language.

Another fundamental change in Windows 11 is the location of the Start button which, after 27 years, has been moved from the left-hand corner to the center of the screen, in line with the now-cancelled Windows 10X.

Some elements that have changed compared to Windows 10 are the context menus, the Explorer (which finally has tabs!) and the Settings app.

Last but not least, the Start Menu has been redesigned, and as a result the Live Tiles introduced with Windows 8 are gone, for better or for worse.

Another great improvement to Windows 11 is the fact that even some elements that are rarely shown to users (especially casual ones) have been updated, like the firewall prompts (which haven’t been updated since Vista!) and many Metro UI (including FINALLY the volume slider) have been replaced.

Last, but not least, the boot screen has been updated to the new Windows logo, as well as the new WinUI loading circle, which replaces the dated spinning dots.

As we can see, we definitely see a major improvement in design consistency in Windows 11. Most of the common UI elements have been updates, and with the introduction of WinUI 3 developers can also integrate these elements in their own apps more easily.

Now, let’s dig deeper.

Layer 2: Windows 10 elements

Well, first of all, a non-design element but definitely one that it is common with Windows 10: they have the same kernel version, 10.0

Some apps like Mail and Calendar haven’t been updated with the new Windows 11 design guidelines, but they are reportedly going to be replaced in 2023 with a new application codenamed Project Monarch.

Some Settings elements still haven’t been updated to the new design, like when doing changes to the user profile.

The Windows Defender UI also hasn’t been updated, and as a result it looks considerably more dated than the rest of the UI.

Cortana is also surprisingly still a thing in Windows 11, and it is not as thoroughly integrated with the OS (remember the time when Cortana was guiding you in the OOBE?).

I literally forgot this existed until I found it in the Start Menu.

As we can see, there still are quite a few Windows 10 remains scattered throughout the OS, but these aren’t really eyesores, apart from the Windows Defender app in my opinion, which looks quite off.

Now onto the juicy stuff.

Layer 3: Windows 8

Looks like the curse of Metro is still with us, even though in a few days Microsoft will stop support for Windows 8.1.

Unfortunately, we still have plenty of Windows 8 elements throughout the OS, like the Autorun prompt or the error that appears when one runs an incompatible program.

These are some of the biggest eyesores of the OS, and it definitely gives Windows a half-baked, inconsistent feeling.

Other elements that are quite an eyesore are the loading screens, which although they have been updated with WinUI3, their Metro counterparts are still prevalent throughout the OS.

Same app, different loading circles.

Another Metro element is the Windows Recovery Environment, which looks almost exactly the same as when it was first introduced in Windows 8.

Also, just like in Windows 8, the copy screen is still the same.

All in all, while there has been a notable progress in de-Metro-ifying Windows 11, some important elements are still here.

Layer 4: Windows 7

While Windows 10 had most of the inbox apps identical to those from Windows 7, Windows 11 has improved significantly this aspect. Most of the applications like Notepad, Paint, the Snipping Tool and others have been redesigned to be in line with the new design guidelines that Windows 11 proposes. However, since this is Microsoft we’re talking about, some elements haven’t been updated.

The Remote Desktop Connection program is still exactly the same as it was 14 years ago, complete with Aero icons and skeuomorphic common controls.

Windows Media Player 12 is also still here, although it has been deprecated in favor of a new Media Player application.

Just like in Windows 10, some file dialogs also have Windows 7 designs.

Onto the fifth layer: Windows Vista

The cornerstone of modern Windows, Vista brought in many new features to the OS. One of these is the introduction of the Aero Wizards, that are still with us in Windows 11 to the same extent as they were in Windows 10.

The beloved Control Panel is still here, although most of the common features now redirect to the Settings app.

One last Vista oddity is the search program, which looks absolutely lovely when paired with the modern design of the File Explorer.

Gorgeous, right?

Layer 6: Windows XP

Just like with Windows 10, the driver copy screen hasn’t been updated, so it still has the Windows XP icons.

Now, onto layer 7: Windows 2000

Once again, just like before, things like MMC, winver and the Windows Installer are almost exactly the same, apart from the fact that the Installer had its icons replaced for the first time in 20 years!

What a potpourri of icons.

Now, onto the eight layer: Windows 95/NT 4.0

While the Start Menu has been moved from the far left to the center for the first time, everything else is still the same.

Just like in Windows 10, elements like the folder options, the mouse settings and many other UI elements have stayed basically the same for the last 27 years.

And finally, layer 9: Windows 3.1

The ability to choose icons that are more than 30 years old is still here, with the inclusion of the very important and absolutely critical to the good function of the OS moricons.dll

And last, but certainly not least, in the ODBC Data Sources utility there is a Windows 3.1-styled folder selection window!


As we can see, while there are definite improvements in Windows 11’s design consistency, they are somewhat superficial (but still more thorough than those that were introduced with Windows 10), and there still is plenty of room for improvement. However, compared to Windows 10, at least most of the “casual” UI is somewhat consistent.

In 2023 Windows 11 will reportedly get 3 of the new “moment” updates, which are supposed to bring in new features and UI fixes. Not only that, but Microsoft is thought to be working on decoupling the UI elements from the rest of the OS even further, so we should probably see more improvements more quickly.

Thank you for your attention.


How it all started.

Hi there, today I’m going to tell you how one of the most interesting periods of my life started. And also, how a period of despair can bring something good.

One year ago, the world was on the brink of collapse. We were in a period of uncertainty and isolation like never before. In just a few days, from a normal high school student busy with homework and competitions and whatnot, I became a literal couch potato, who was watching The Office for the third time in six months and went to sleep at 6AM. Of course, at that time I was also watching a lot of YouTube, seeing all sorts of tech videos. One of my favorite kinds are the “upgrading every version of Windows” type. I think they are very relaxing and also show just how flexible and backwards-compatible Windows really is. So, I thought that there must be someone who has already made something similar to my first video, which is upgrading every build, not version of Windows, but I couldn’t find any. So I started thinking about making one by myself. But me, on YouTube? That would be so cringe. I had a secondary channel on my google account, but I have never used it before (I don’t even remember why I even made in the first place 5 years ago). Also, what name to put? I’m not really good at naming things. So, at first I decided to leave this sort of thing for other people.

Why did I change my mind? Well, the reason is kind of hilarious. In the middle of April I saw a video on YouTube about a remix of Dua Lipa’s Hallucinate song combined with the theme song of BBC News. And the author said that it’s been made during lockdown. So, seeing the creativity of other people during this time, I also wanted to make something interesting.

And that’s how I started making my first video. At first, my channel was supposed to be a one-act show: just this video and that’s it. (that’s why I also chose NTDEV as name, basically at random, because I saw it on MajorSky17’s videos about beta versions of Windows, and I thought it was cool). So, I installed OBS and started recording my screen. Basically this is what I’ve been doing for about two weeks or so. I had no idea how idea how to edit a video, let alone how to make one with 200 hours of footage watchable. But I kept learning as I went along. Also during this time I have drank Coca-Cola and ate chocolate like never before. Last, but not least, I found out that listening to music really helps you get things done! So I kept recording and recording, almost from early in the morning till late at night. This definitely took a toll on my laptop, as after finishing the second part of the saga (where I upgraded every Windows 10 build up to that point), I had noticed that the base of my laptop had warped slightly from the heat. But I’m sure that recording 400 hours of footage while doing pretty intensive workloads takes a toll on any device.

So, I have a video, now what?

After I uploaded the video to YouTube, it was obvious that I wouldn’t have instant fame and success, but just seeing my video on YouTube gave a feeling of pride and excitement like never before. A few days later, I finally made courage to promote my video somewhere, by posting a link of it on r/windows on Reddit, with pretty good success.

Now, what’s the deal with this Twitter stuff?

Prior to creating my channel, I haven’t really used Twitter (although I had an account), and the reason I started using it after I posted my first video is pretty hilarious, too. About a month after posting my first video, I started searching my name on Twitter as a joke (I was pretty confident that there’s no way people would have heard about my little 1000-views video). But I was wrong. I noticed that John Lam from Microsoft had tweeted about my video, and I wanted to respond to his tweet. At first, I actually replied to his tweet with the account having my real name, but then I thought “wait, why would he trust me in saying that I’m the one who made that video?” So I deleted the reply and promptly changed my name to NTDEV on Twitter, while also adding a fancier bio… Then I replied to him again, under my new persona.

And the rest is history.

Thank you for your attention.

Exploring BootOS: the smallest official Windows image

If you’ve been following me for a while, you might have noticed that I have an obsession with making small Windows images. I think it’s fun and it goes to show how modular Windows truly is. As of recently, I thought that the smallest Windows image one could make is based off of OneCoreUpdateOS, which is a 64MB WIM file that is only used for, you guessed it, updating. However, it looks like there is another image, even smaller, so small that it’s not really fair to call it Windows, as it doesn’t even contain Win32k.

One of the great perks of having a community is that you’re always learning new things.

So, I decided to dig deeper. At first, I thought I had hit a dead end, as I wasn’t able to find anything closely resembling what they described.

But then, I started to gain some more info.

If you find what you need at page 6 of Google, you know you’re in for some good stuff 🙂

One of the things that Gustave didn’t mention, however, is where the files are located. At first, I tried searching them on my own PC, to see if my image contains them, but to no avail. So, I downloaded all the UUP packages of the latest Windows 10 build, which as of now is 21322.

And, lo and behold, it’s there! The complete path of the file is:\amd64_microsoft-windows-ptp-bootos_31bf3856ad364e35_10.0.21322.1000_none_e8c04c18969158e9

In theory, you could fit this WIM in about 13 floppy disks. Impressive.

So, now that we have found the golden goose, what can we do with it?

Well, let’s deploy it, of course! Just like with UpdateOS, I made two partitions, one for EFI and one for the OS. The deployment, as you might have expected, was done in an instant.

Pretty tiny, right? Also, it looks like it’s compressed by default.

But then, just as I wanted to make the image bootable, an oopsie happened.

It looks like the image is so small that the Windows folder doesn’t contain the Boot folder, required to create a bootable image.

So, with that being said, I took the Boot folder from my own Windows image and thought to give it a try.


Now, let’s also bring in this file and see what happens.

Close, but no cigar.

So, it looks like the config folder doesn’t contain the BCD-Templates file. Let’s see what is actually in the config the folder.

Wow, this is liliputan.

Yet again, I have to bring out my own toys. Let’s see if after copying the template it works.


Yay! Now, the moment of truth. Will it boot? Do we officially have a new contender for the smallest usable NT image?


Not yet. At this point, if we bring in a few more files it will become bigger than UpdateOS 🙂

But finally, after I inserted the winload.efi file, it boots. And… that’s about it. As soon as it finishes booting it shuts down. I tried loading a native NT application, but it simply ignores everything I throw at it.

Now, you might say: Debug it, dummy! And that’s what I did (after bringing in some more files, as it didn’t have some KD* DLLs)

Unfortunately, debugging doesn’t go to further, as it just seems like it’s shutting down in an orderly manner (it’s not triggered by any error, or so it seems).

Why oh why?

Well, unfortunately it looks like we reached a dead end. For now, at least. I will keep trying to make BootOS do more stuff than just, well… booting, but for it seems like this Windows image is truly worth of its name.

Thank you for your attention.

“Overclocking” the refresh rate of a laptop display

If you’re following my Twitter account, you might have seen that a few days ago I found out that DWM was leaking memory while also using a lot of GPU power. While looking for possible culprits, I found out on a suggested Reddit post that you can increase a laptop’s refresh rate above the specified limit. Having caught my interest, I saved this post to my bookmarks, so that I could attempt it at a later time. After fixing my GPU issues (by rolling back to an earlier driver), I decided to try this. I mean, what’s the worst it could happen?

But first, a little disclaimer: while this worked out fine for me (as I managed to increase my laptop’s refresh rate from 60Hz to a respectable 77Hz), your mileage may vary.

Also, I have only tried this on a laptop which has its display output driven by the Intel UHD 620 integrated graphics.

So, without further ado, let’s go!

For this, you only need one utility, called Custom Resolution Utility. It is open source and you can download it from here: Custom Resolution Utility (CRU) (

After you unpack it, open CRU.exe. Here, you’ll see a screen that can look quite overwhelming, but don’t worry, it’s a lot easier than you think.

Here, select the current display configuration (in my case, the one up top) from the “detailed resolutions” pane and hit edit.

At this screen, click the copy button up top. Then, close this window and press on the “add” button next to the edit button (again, in the “detailed resolutions pane”).

Here, click on paste, and only edit the Refresh Rate from the Frequency rate at the bottom. Don’t go too wild at first! You can try adding just 1-2Hz at the beginning, to see if it’s even possible to do this procedure on your configuration. Then, after you add your new refresh rate, click OK on both screens, and then reboot the system. You have to do this every time you change the refresh rate, so that the new value would appear.

Then, you can try the new refresh rate by going into Settings – System – Display – Advanced Display Settings

You should see the new refresh rates here.

If it worked to change the refresh rate even by just 1Hz, congrats! Now you can try higher frequencies. Again, try increasing by 1-2Hz, as right now your display is in uncharted territories, so it can stop working at any time.

Now, what happens when you go too far?

If you go too far, don’t worry, your display is not gonna break, as it will revert to its previous state in 15 seconds. In my case, when I went past the 77Hz limit, even by 1Hz, my display started looking as if it was interlaced, and it had huge smearing issues.

And, that’s pretty much it! All in all, I think it’s a great method of improving the overall responsiveness of the system, without too many downsides.

If you want to see the original Reddit post about this, here it is. Guide for increasing Laptop monitor / screen refresh rates (or any monitor) : GlobalOffensive (

Thank you for your attention.

State of the Windows, part 2: Did Windows 10 slow down with each feature update?

One of the main reasons some people tend to avoid updating their PCs is that “it makes it slower”. Especially with Windows 10’s Software as a Service approach, where it gets the so-called “feature updates” twice a year. But is it actually true?

Today we’re gonna find out how much Windows 10’s performance has changed over time, by benchmarking 10 elements of the OS experience:

  • Installation time
  • Boot/reboot time
  • Win32 app opening
  • UWP app opening
  • Windows Search
  • GDI performance
  • GDI stress test
  • Windows Defender Quick Scan
  • I/O performance
  • Shutdown

But first, a little disclaimer: although I tried the best I could to compare the performance metrics as objectively as possible, there might have been some slip-ups in the measurements. For the purposes of this experiment I used Hyper-V as the hypervisor of choice, with 4GB of RAM, 4 cores and a 32GB fixed disk for each build.

Each version was clean installed.

So, without further ado, let’s go!

1. Installation time

The setup process is the end user’s first incursion into the OS experience. Over the last Windows versions (specifically Vista and later), Microsoft has made major strides in ensuring that the Windows installation is as smooth and efficient as possible. But how fast is it?

For each build, I made sure that I used an installation image that uses the .WIM format, for consistent and accurate results. Also, for objectively comparing speeds and reducing the human error to as little as possible, an unattended file was utilized.

As we can see, during the first 3 public release of Windows 10 the result is pretty consistent. However, after Creators Update, we can see an increase with about 3 minutes. The peak, however, is with Windows 10 October 2018 update (build 17763), where the installation takes a whopping 18 minutes and 40 seconds. After RS5, it seems that the installation process is a bit speedier, but not at the same level as the pre-RS2 builds.

Verdict: Windows 10’s setup process did get a bit slower, but not to a dramatic extent. This might be caused by the fact that subsequent releases of Windows 10 use more disk space, which obviously translates into longer write times.

2. Boot time

One of the most benchmarked areas of performance in an OS is the boot speed. It sets the tone in overall performance, as a system that boots slowly will most likely also run slow. Since Windows 8, the boot process has been significantly changed* to take advantage of modern storage devices such as SSDs.
* – the fast boot feature has been disabled for the purposes of this measurement.

As we can see, the boot time did increase quite dramatically since Windows 10 Anniversary Update. (with a noticeable dip in Creators Update). If we compare Windows 10 TH1 with Windows 10 20H1, we have an increase of about 2.6 times. Of course, in this context it’s only a matter of mere seconds, but on a slower system it is definitely going to be a lot more noticeable.

For reboot time, the graph is pretty similar.

Verdict: The boot times did in fact get slower with subsequent builds. This is probably caused by the new security technologies implemented in newer builds of Windows, as well as the new services introduced.

3. Win32 applications

Although Microsoft tried to make their UWP apps as the future, to this day Win32 is still what makes Windows… Windows.

The apps I chose for this benchmark are all inbox Windows apps: Windows Explorer, winver, Notepad, Internet Explorer, Paint, Registry Editor, msconfig, msinfo32, Wordpad, Control Panel and Task Manager.

Again, we can see that we have a pretty significant slowdown starting with Windows 10 1809, being twice as slow as the previous build. Again, if we compare the lowest point with the highest, we have a difference of more than 3 times. Not a good look.

Verdict: Win32 programs will most likely open slower in newer builds of Windows.

4. UWP applications

Universal Windows Platform is (or was, depending on who you ask) Microsoft’s application platform for their “One Windows” vision. UWP is supposed to facilitate app development, so that one can write an app once, and then it would run on a plethora of devices. Unfortunately nowadays, UWP is in an awkward position of being somewhat neglected by Microsoft, thing that can especially be seen in the Store.

The apps that were benchmarked are: Microsoft Edge, Settings, Calculator, Calendar, Maps, Movies and TV, Groove Music, People, Store and Voice Recorder

I think we can start to see a pattern here…

We have some pretty dramatic results in this area. Again, things worsened dramatically starting with 1809, with the peak being with 19H1. The results couldn’t be more clear.

Verdict: Opening UWP apps did become dramatically slower with subsequent feature updates.

5. Windows Search

For the purpose of this experiment, I used Windows Search to find all instances of msinfo32 in the C: drive. Let’s check the results:

Here, unlike our other benchmarks, the results are varying wildly, so we can’t say for sure that we have a regression.

Verdict: Inconclusive results.

6. GDI Benchmark

For this test I used ADeltaX’s REGDI32 benchmark, which creates 9900 GDI handles, just below the maximum threshold of 10000. This program benchmarks the time it takes to render all the handles. Let’s take a look:

Lower is better.

As we can see, we had a steady growth until Windows 10 19H1, which ended with a dramatic drop with 20H1. So, it looks like whatever was going on with the GDI performance was fortunately fixed, which is a refreshing sight.

Verdict: GDI performance used to get slower with each subsequent release, but it got fixed.

7. Explorer stress test

For this benchmark I created a very simple batch script which opens instances of File Explorer until GDI depletion. This tests not only the GDI rendering speed, but also Win32 opening times. The faster it takes to see visual artifacts, the better.

We have yet again a major increase in time starting with Windows 10 1809. Although we saw in the previous segment that GDI performance was dramatically improved with 20H1, it still didn’t help all that much in reducing the time until depletion. As such, we can conclude that the prolonged time is caused by Win32 app opening speed being lower.

Verdict: It takes more time to open enough Explorer instances that the OS will be out of GDI handles.

8. Windows Defender Quick Scan

Whether we love it or hate it, Windows Defender has become a more and more integrated part with Windows, each feature update adding new improvements to it. But what about doing an good old quick scan? Let’s see if it got slower or faster:

Looks like after Anniversary Update, the scan speed got much faster, and while newer builds have varying results, they are still much better than the first two releases of Windows 10.

Verdict: Windows Defender not only got smarter, but it also is a lot faster compared to initial releases of Windows 10.

9. Disk I/O performance

For this benchmark I used diskspd, which is a free, open-source utility provided by Microsoft for testing the I/O subsystem performance.

The command used is diskspd -c1G -d300 -r -w40 -o32 -t8 -b64k -Sh -L

The following chart shows the total I/O read and written.

Higher is better.

In an interesting turn of events, Windows 10 1809 is actually the fastest of the whole bunch of builds. It looks like Microsoft did some improvements to the I/O subsystem, as these changes persisted over to the next releases.

Verdict: Windows 10’s I/O performance is somewhat better nowadays.

10. Shutdown.

Last, but not least, we can’t finish benchmarking the OS experience without measuring the shutdown speed. Although not that important overall, it still gives us an impression of the whole OS tenacity.

Let’s see.

Verdict: The results are pretty consistent across the board, which means that the shutdown speed is in broad lines the same.

So, let’s answer the question: Did Windows 10 become slower over time?

Well, kind of. However, most of the people will not notice this regression. We have also seen some notable improvements in the I/O department, as well as security.

Why did this happen?

We can blame a lot of things that may have caused this regression. Some might say the lost interest for mobile devices by Microsoft made them not as vigilant in fine-tuning every component to its maximum performance (as some of you might know, Windows Phones were praised for their excellent performance, even on low end hardware). Other might put the blame on the enhanced security Windows has nowadays. Gone are the days where one might get viruses easily from the internet, as Windows Defender has an ever-growing grip on the end user’s ability to modify the OS as they please.

If you want to see a video walkthrough of some of the benchmarks taken, you can check it right here:

Thank you for your attention.

State of the Windows: How many layers of UI inconsistencies are in Windows 10?

We’ve all heard this riddle: if you dig down deep enough in Windows 10, you’ll find elements that date from Windows 3.x days. But is it actually true? In this article we’ll discover just how many UI layers are in Windows and when they were first introduced.

For the purpose of this experiment, I chose the latest Windows 10 Insider Build (as of February 6th, 2021), which is Windows 10 build 21301.

So, without further ado, let’s go!

Layer one: Fluent Design

First, we begin with the latest and greatest, Fluent Design. Announced in 2017 and introduced with Windows 10 1803 update, Fluent Design is a major redesign of the Modern Design Language 2 (MDL2), aimed at bringing elements like Light, Depth, Motion, Material, and Scale. It also introduces the Reveal effects and the Acrylic translucent background.

As of now, most of the inbox (UWP) applications have been upgraded to take use of Fluent elements, as well as some of the more front-facing elements, like the Start Menu, Activity Center and the Login Screen.

Although Fluent Design was well appreciated, most of the enthusiasts considered this move too little, too late, as only a small subset of features have been enhanced with this new design style.

Layer 2: Metro

Just as we dig a bit deeper into the OS, we can see elements that haven’t been upgraded since Windows 8/8.1.

Some of these are glaring omissions, like the volume flyout, the USB flyout as well as some elements from the login screen.

Other Metro elements, although not as prominent, are the boot screen (which will soon be replaced with a newer one) and WinRE

Did you know: the first time the spinning dots were introduced was in Windows 8 build 7989.

Alright, let’s get down to the third layer: Windows 8 Win32 elements.

Just like Windows 10, Windows 8 was also plagued with inconsistency issues (for better or for worse). However, Windows 8 added meaningful enhancements to major user elements, like the Windows Explorer or Task Manager. Although they would receive some quality-of-life improvements in subsequent Windows 10 updates, changes would be minimal.

Also, an important change brought by Windows 8 was the redesign of the File Transfer dialogs.

Some of these changes started in Windows 7, which brings us to the fourth layer:

Windows 7 UI elements

Windows 7 is without doubt one of the most beloved versions of Windows of all time, praised for its great enhancements over Windows Vista. It brought many new features that, although weren’t as significant as those that Vista introduces, made Windows 7 a very solid OS, and a true successor to Windows XP. However, one of the most infamous changes brought with Windows 7 is the Ribbon UI, which is a feature ported from Office 2007. Some of the apps that got updated with the new Ribbon UI are Paint and Wordpad.

Although at some point Microsoft decided to deprecate the classic Paint in favor of the new Paint 3D (introduced with Windows 10 Creators Update), after major backlash, they reversed their decision.

Other features that were updated in Windows 7 and remained the same ever since are: Windows Media Player 12, Remote Desktop Connection and some file dialogs.

Now, let’s go to the 5th layer of UI: Windows Vista.

Windows Vista was a monumental Windows release, one that brought much needed modernization to the platform. Almost all of the fundamentals of the OS have been in some way or another improved, from the bootloader to the driver model. However, as we all know by now, Windows Vista would come to be one of the worst Windows releases ever, plagued with issues from the beginning. One of the few features that were praised, though, was the UI. It redesigned some of the fundamentals that haven’t been updated since Windows 95. One of the main promotors of this change was the introduction of the so-called Aero Wizards, replaced the previous wizard standard, Wizard97.

Other features that were redesigned in Windows Vista and are basically the same in Windows 10: the Control Panel, the Search program, Windows Fax and Scan.

Speaking of Windows Vista: did you know that in certain special circumstances Windows 10 falls back to the Vista boot screen? It happens when your video card doesn’t support the video mode that the standard boot screen uses.

Now, we go back to the 6th layer: Windows XP

Believe it or not, there are not that many XP elements embedded into Windows 10. That’s probably because most of the fundamentals were updated already into Windows 2000. However, Windows 10 contains some file dialogs from XP, which are seen when one is installing a driver.

Layer 7: Windows 2000

Windows 2000 was a big milestone for the NT lineup of operating systems from Microsoft. It also was the stepping stone that would signal the start the transition to a new, unified Windows vision. However, Windows 2000 was still a business-oriented OS, which means that it brought a lot of new features designed for experts.

One of the most significant addition is the Management Console (MMC), whose UI elements are basically the same ever since.

Another feature introduced by default in Windows 2000 is Windows Installer, which still has the same icon from when it was first introduced!

Another UI element that hasn’t changed (apart from branding, of course) is winver, whose design was introduced in Windows 2000 build 1946.

Credits to for the first image.

While Windows 2000 introduced lots of features aimed for power users, Windows 95 is probably the most significant Windows release to date. It introduced fundamental paradigms that still hold to this day. It introduced features like the Start Menu, context menus, the taskbar and recycle bin. While these features were of course updated over the course of many years, some remained almost exactly the same.

Now, onto the 8th layer: Windows 95/NT 4.0 elements.

An element that is basically a relic of the older computing habits, where one had to protect their precious CRT screen is the screensaver settings.

Another element that is strikingly similar is the Run box.

One more common UI element that passed the test of time is the folder properties screen.

And there are so many more UI elements that haven’t been touched since Windows 95. Is this a case of timeless design? I’ll let you judge for yourself.

Layer 9: Windows 3.1 and DOS… kind of.

Well, this is not really a “UI layer”, as I haven’t been able to find any interface elements predating Windows 95 (although I have a feeling that there certainly are). However, there is a peculiar file in Windows 10, called moricons.dll, which contains a lot of old icons from the DOS days. Take a look:

Well, that’s pretty much it. As you may know, Microsoft is planning on overhauling the UI of Windows with their “Sun Valley” update, which aims to unify the design of the OS. However, as we can see, Windows is one behemoth of an operating system. Will their efforts to finally make a cohesive user experience succeed? Only time will tell.

Thank you for your attention.