Microsoft has been a bit schizophrenic for the past few years when it comes to the Windows Control Panel and the new Settings app. While it has moved a lot of stuff into Settings, the Control Panel still exists as well. This has created a lot of confusion amongst Windows users trying to figure out where to go to make certain changes, and the situation isn’t helped by the fact that clicking a box in some Settings windows will open the Control Panel, and vice versa. In a new blog post about a new Windows Insider build, Microsoft states that it is engaged in an “ongoing effort to bring over settings from Control Panel into the Settings app,” and details some of the new changes that have been transferred or tweaked.
Here are the big changes Microsoft has planned:
- It has moved advanced sharing options like network discovery, file and print sharing, and public folder sharing to a new page in the Settings app, under “Advanced network settings.”
- It has updated device-specific pages under the Printer & Scanners section of the Settings menu to give more detailed device information directly in this menu.
- Some Control Panel options will now redirect to the Settings page when clicked.
Surprisingly, these changes appear to be a mix of moving things wholesale out of the Control Panel and putting them in Settings, such as advanced file and printer sharing settings, while still having some links in Control Panel open in Settings, which is a bit odd. These changes appear in Windows 11 Insider Preview Build 22509, which is currently released to the Developer channel, so it’s unclear when they will appear on your PC at home.
These changes to the behavior of the Control Panel’s applets will probably rustle the jimmies of the IT crowd and folks who fix PCs for a living, as it can make their jobs harder in some instances. As ArsTechnica wrote over a year ago, nobody would mind if Microsoft just moved some things to Settings while keeping their functionality, but what it’s been doing is moving and neutering some of them in the pursuit of simplifying things, which is bad for IT pros. For example, whereas before you could simply right-click an icon in the Control Panel to see its properties and select from a variety of actions, all that goes away when there are no icons, which is how the Settings app is designed. Now you just have sub-menus for everything, and no right-click functionality. One of my pet peeves is I have used the right-click to “begin scan” in the printer window of Control Panel for ages, but that’s not possible in the Printers & Scanners area of Settings. That’s just one of dozens of similar changes that make life more difficult for IT professionals and PC power users.
That said, the updates aren’t all bad. This build also brings several welcome changes to the taskbar and start menu, including the ability to see the date and time on secondary displays, and more options for how the start menu behaves. When the changes are rolled out, Windows 11 users will be able to toggle the start menu to either stay the same as it is now, show more pinned apps, or show more recommendations. Microsoft also recently announced it was reversing course on its decision to make it harder to change your default web browser.
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