Microsoft explains the Windows 11 context menu and the Share dialog

Windows[German]In fall of 2021, Microsoft will most likely release Windows 11 and then roll it out more broadly in 2022 (see Has Intel revealed the October 2021 release date and name for Windows 11?). This will include a user interface overhaul with a new Start menu and rounded windows (Sun Valley). In anticipation of the release of Windows 11, Microsoft has now explained the new context menus and the Parts dialog in more detail.


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The details appeared in Microsoft’s July 19, 2021 post Extending the Context Menu and Share Dialog in Windows 11.

Adjustments to context menus

The context menu is one of the most popular and useful shell extensions in Windows. If the user is in File Explorer or on the desktop, it significantly reduces the number of steps to complete a file operation compared to opening a separate app. As useful as the Windows 10 context menu is, there are aspects of its design that Microsoft plans to improve in Windows 11.

Windows 10 context menu
Windows 10 context menu

Windows 11 brings a refinement of contextual file operations in the right-click context menu and share dialog. These are extensible by apps, including unpacked Win32 apps. What bothers developers about the old context menu from Windows 10 is the following:

  • The most common commands – cut, copy, paste, delete and rename – are far from the mouse pointer, touch point or stylus.
  • The menu is exceptionally long. It has grown in an unregulated environment for 20 years, since Windows XP, when IContextMenu was introduced.
  • The old context menu contains commands that are rarely used.
  • Commands that should be grouped together – like Open and Open With – are sometimes far apart.
  • Commands added by apps don’t have a common organizational scheme and can break sections of inbox commands.
  • Commands added by apps are not associated with the app itself.
  • Many commands are run in-process in Explorer, which can cause performance and reliability issues.

The Windows 11 context menu is supposed to fix these problems with the following adjustments:


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  • Frequent commands are placed right next to the place where the menu is called.
  • “Open” and “Open with” are grouped together.
  • Apps expand the menu with IExplorerCommand + App identity. Unpacked Win32 apps can use sparse manifests. IExplorerCommand support goes back to Windows 7.
  • App extensions are grouped under shell verbs.
  • Vendor apps for cloud files are placed next to shell commands to hydrate or dehydrate the file.
  • Apps with more than one verb are grouped in a flyout with app association.
  • “Show more options” loads the Windows 10 context menu as is for access to little-used shell verbs and apps still working on porting. No commands have been completely removed.
  • Pressing Shift-F10 or the keyboard’s menu key also loads the Windows 10 context menu.

The following image shows the Windows 11 context menu as Microsoft envisions it. In addition to the round corners, there are a number of commands as icons at the top of the menu. Something I like spontaneously.

Windows 11 context menu
Windows 11 context menu

The sharing dialog is also supposed to be revised in Windows 11

Sharing nearby contacts is now much easier to use, with simple control over your discoverability setting at the top and a link to more settings in the dialog’s footer. When users use the Mail app, the first entry in the contact list helps them easily send an email to themselves.

All apps can now participate in the share dialog as a destination. For non-packaged Win32 apps, this is included in the same example as the context menu. PWAs installed via Microsoft Edge are also supported if they implement the Web Share Target API.

Windows 11 Teilen-Dialog
Windows 11 Teilen-Dialog

The Microsoft post also includes some more best practice for developers.  (via)


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