Windows 10: Control Panel Set To Be Killed Off

One of the confusing aspects of Windows 10, carried over from 8.1, was the continuing existence of two ways to modify the Windows 10 settings. The traditional “Control Panel” found its way into Windows 10 alongside the Windows 8 entrant, the touch-oriented “Settings” app.

Even the upgraded Settings app for Windows 10 was missing some significant functionality compared to the older Control Panel, which is perhaps reflected in Microsoft’s decision to temporarily retain it for the Windows 10 launch. However, as Neowin reported, Microsoft have been pushing to merge the two implementations to reduce “complexity” and develop a “leaner” solution. That solution will see the eventual retirement of the Control Panel.


Some users remain concerned that administering Windows 10 settings using the new app instead of the Control Panel will result in a degraded experience. Several Windows Insiders comment about some bugs, crashes, and missing features in the Settings app. Hopefully, Microsoft’s decision to ship the full Control Panel with Windows 10 is indicative of their strategy to wait until the Settings app is fully stable and delivers the same power and control.

PC World welcomed the change, noting that it made little sense for Microsoft to retain both apps in their operating system, as it is “less intuitive.”

“Getting rid of the Control Panel will likely invite consternation from a subset of Windows veterans. Still, it’s hard to argue that Windows needs two separate menu systems, and that the more labyrinthine and less intuitive of the two is the best candidate to stick around. Assuming users still have access to all the options they need, switching to a more modern Settings menu would be a welcome change.”

One of the big factors driving the change is the continuing mission to build the Windows 10 operating system so that it delivers a unified experience across a range of devices. The Control Panel is a legacy of the “mouse and keyboard” era of desktop Windows, and while Windows 10 will continue to be one of the largest players in the desktop computing market, Microsoft is delivering it across phones, games systems (Xboxes), tablets, wearable technology, and has future aspirations for a holographic product. Against that backdrop, a cleaner, easier to use, touch-based interface was a logical choice.

Windows 10 Running Xbox [Image Source: Microsoft Press]Whether desktop users will embrace the gradual integration of more features designed for the “unified” Windows 10 experience, and not purely designed for an optimal desktop experience, will be crucial to the long-term success of Windows 10. It’s worth noting that Microsoft is not alone facing these challenges. Ubuntu (a Linux distribution) faced similar criticisms as it brought their new Unity desktop to market. The return of the start menu, and a more familiar feel for desktop Windows 10 users, does show that Microsoft is sensitive to those challenges and is determined not to lose the desktop market as it expands Windows 10 into other use cases.

Windows 10 for desktop users [Image Source: Microsoft Insider Program]WinBeta also notes that the retirement of Control Panel for Windows 10 also has implications for hardware and software vendors. Currently, they are able to add “applets” to the Control Panel to allow users to access advanced features and settings in their drivers. Control Panel also has a myriad of advanced configuration options, making the migration more challenging for Microsoft.

The Control Panel has been part of Microsoft’s Windows ecosystem since version 2.0, but with the advent of touch screens and multi-device support, through Windows 10, it may finally be about to retire. That will mark the end of almost 28 years in service as the settings application for Windows. Will you miss Control Panel in Windows 10, or has the basic functionality provided by the Windows 10 Settings app fulfilled most of your needs?

[Image Source: Microsoft]