It’s 2019, and Windows 10 has too many useless and annoying features. Don’t get me wrong: Windows 10 has gotten better and, overall, I love it compared to Windows 8. But some things just need to go.
The People Icon Without Any People
The My People feature lives on Windows 10’s taskbar by default. Click it, and you can chat with people on a variety of different services. You can even pin your favorite contacts to the taskbar and have one-click access to your favorite people!
That’s how it’s supposed to work. In reality, My People has integrated with very few services: In the default Windows installation, it only works with Mail and Skype. You might expect that People would be integrated with other Microsoft applications like Microsoft Teams, LinkedIn, Yammer, and Xbox Live Chat, but you’d be wrong. It doesn’t even work with the SMS features built into the Your Phone application. Does Facebook’s Windows 10 app integrate with it? Of course not.
Microsoft hasn’t even adopted My People for its services, so it’s unsurprising that only a handful of apps have integrated with it. The list of available apps for My People in the Store is tiny and extremely sad. Microsoft needs to get rid of this feature. Thankfully, Windows 10 users can disable the People icon until then.
The 3D Objects Folder No One Uses
I don’t know about you, but I’m sick of seeing the “3D Objects” folder under This PC in File Explorer. How many Windows 10 users actually use this folder? Is it really that important?
The 3D Objects folder was added to Windows 10 as part of Microsoft’s 3D obsession back in the Creators Update days, when Windows 10 also received features like Paint 3D, Mixed Reality (actually just virtual reality) headsets, and 3D printer support. Microsoft talked up the idea of converting Minecraft worlds to 3D models and then printing them.
Those features are cool, I guess, but they’re not important to most PC users. At least you can easily uninstall apps like Paint 3D. You have to use a registry hack to hide the 3D Objects folder.
Thanks to telemetry, Microsoft has to know how many people use this feature—and it can’t be many. Microsoft said it removed the Start button from Windows 8 because of low usage, but the 3D Objects folder sticks around?
Microsoft Edge’s Horrible News Feed
Microsoft Edge’s new tab page is a mess. By default, it shows as news feed full of clickbait articles about the world’s wealthiest celebrities, credit card offers, shopping advertisements, and dental implant information.
You can hide the news feed, but it’s full of junk, and I wish Microsoft would remove it entirely. No such luck, though: The news feed is already part of the New Tab page in the new Chromium-based version of Microsoft Edge. Ouch.
All the Ads. So, So Many Ads
While Windows 10 has become better in many ways, the advertisements keep multiplying. Every update seems to add a new form of advertising to Windows users. Microsoft may have bashed Google for being an advertising-centric company with the Scroogled campaign, but Windows 10 has more built-in advertisements than Google’s Android and Chrome OS do.
There are advertisements on the lock screen, in the taskbar, and in your notifications. Ads pop up from the taskbar in bubbles, and Cortana bounces for your attention. Banner advertisements appear in File Explorer, and the default live tiles advertise apps and games Microsoft wants to sell you. It’s all just too much, and disabling these advertisements involves a scavenger hunt.
It’s more annoying that many of these ads are baked into useful features. Don’t want to see ads for video games on your lock screen? You’ll have to turn off those pretty background images provided by Windows Spotlight. When Huawei does it, it’s a scandal people are upset about. When Microsoft does it, it’s business as usual.
At least Microsoft backed off on ads in the Mail app.
Bing Search That Gets in the Way
Here’s what really gets in the way: Bing search in the Start menu. Do you want to see suggested searches and even embedded Bing web pages when you search your system via the Start menu? Does the Start menu need a SafeSearch option that enables the viewing of “adult images” from the web in your Start menu?
Bing often gets in the way. Sometimes, you’ll search your system and Windows will only return web-based results rather than applications, settings, and files in your system.
The original versions of Windows 10 let you disable this integrated Bing search, but Microsoft removed that option. The Bing division must have needed more users.
It’s still possible to disable Bing in the Start menu, but you have to do some registry hacking. It should just take a few clicks.
The Messy Timeline
The Timeline is designed to show your recent “activities,” showing you which files, applications, and websites you used at specific dates and times. You can go back to the tasks you were performing previously. It even syncs between your devices with your Microsoft account, so you can resume tasks you were performing on their PCs. Microsoft has even extended Timeline to phones.
If this all sounds pretty complicated, well, it is. Not every application has integrated with it, and that makes it even more complicated. Chrome doesn’t show web pages you’ve visited in the Timeline. Many other apps don’t show activities you’ve performed and files you’ve opened in the Timeline either. Why open a messy interface that might not even have what you’re looking for?
Even if the Timeline was super useful, there’s no way to hide some applications from the Timeline, so it might get cluttered with things that don’t matter to you. More control would be nice if this were a serious feature.
Sure, maybe some people love Timeline. But it feels like yet another half-baked Windows feature that not enough applications integrate with—just like My People. Thankfully, you can disable the Timeline and clean up the Task View interface.
S Mode, Which Would Have Cost You $50 to Escape
Can Microsoft just give up on S Mode already? S Mode is the successor to Windows 10 S, which was the successor to Windows RT back in the Windows 8 days. They all have one thing in common: No one wanted them. Who wants a Windows PC that can’t run standard Windows applications?
Like its successors, a PC in S Mode will only let you install software from the Store. Some PCs come in S Mode: Microsoft’s original Surface Laptop, for example, and the Surface Go.
S Mode has some other ridiculous limitations: A PC in S Mode won’t let you change your default search engine from Bing to Google or any other search engine. Even Apple’s Safari on an iPad lets you do that! Even “Windows 8.1 With Bing” didn’t force you to use Bing.
Thankfully, you can leave S Mode. Initially, Microsoft planned to charge $50 for the convenience of leaving Windows 10 S, essentially adding $50 to the cost of these PCs for anyone who needs to install their own software. Thankfully, Microsoft backed down. You can now leave S Mode for free, although bugs sometimes get in the way.
Candy Crush Saga (You Knew It Was Coming)
No list of useless junk on Windows 10 could be complete without Candy Crush Saga, FarmVille 2, and whatever other games Microsoft is installing by default these days.
I can hear the response from Redmond right now: “Aha!”, they’re saying. “We’ve got you! These aren’t part of Windows 10—they’re actually downloaded after you set up Windows 10. And many of them are just tiles that download the apps after you click them. They’re not technically included with Windows 10!”
Whether or not these are included with Windows 10 or automatically downloaded after you set up Windows 10 doesn’t matter to most people. They’re even downloaded automatically on Windows 10 Professional, so you have them to look forward to even if you spend $200 for your operating system. They’re part of the “Microsoft Consumer Experience,” which only Windows 10 Enterprise and Education users can disable.
Beyond games, the Microsoft Consumer Experience has been used to automatically push applications like the Keeper password manager, made by a company that sued a journalist who wrote about its security vulnerabilities, onto the PCs of Windows 10 users. Maybe we should be happy if Candy Crush is the worst of it.
Technically Gone: That Ad-Filled Solitaire Game
Remember when Microsoft removed the beloved Solitaire game from Windows and replaced it with a new Solitaire game full of 30-second video ads and a subscription fee to disable them?
I would wish that Microsoft would remove the Microsoft Solitaire Collection from Windows, but it kind of has. It’s now an optional download from the Store, helping Microsoft avoid criticism about shipping a built-in card game with a subscription.
The price has even gone up over time! At launch, Microsoft charged $1.49 per month or $9.99 per year. Now, Microsoft charges $1.99 per month or $14.99 per year. Really, Microsoft?
Microsoft Minesweeper has a separate subscription, too. And, as the app so helpfully notes, paying for a Solitaire subscription won’t grant you a Premium subscription in the Microsoft Solitaire apps for Android, iPhone, and iPad. Gross.
I still wish Microsoft would replace Solitaire with a more classic experience that isn’t full of ads and subscriptions. Does every little part of Windows need aggressive monetization?