It’s been over four years since Microsoft first released the PC Settings interface with Windows 8, but the Control Panel and Settings app are still a confusing, split experience. There still isn’t a single interface, as there is on other operating systems, and Microsoft is seriously dragging their feet on consolidating them.
Microsoft told us that Windows 10 would continue to include the Control Panel “until the Settings app is developed with the complete settings options needed to support all Windows devices.” But Microsoft seems content to slowly move over a few settings every year rather than finish the job now—or, you know, before Windows 10 was released.
Settings Remain Scattered Across Two (or More) Interfaces
If you’ve used Windows 10, you’re probably already familiar with the problem. Windows 10 has a new Settings interface you can get to by clicking Start > Settings, as well as the old Control Panel you can get to by right-clicking the Start button and selecting “Control Panel”.
“We implemented the Settings app in Windows 10 in order to create a single universal settings experience across all Windows devices, including modern tablets and touch-capable displays”, Microsoft told us. But this isn’t completely true. The Settings application is really just a polished replacement for the PC Settings application Microsoft introduced with Windows 8.
More importantly: some settings are still only available in the old Control Panel interface, while others are only available in the new Settings interface.
In other cases, one will even direct you to the other. For example, you need to visit the Settings application to add a new user account or configure many settings for your current account. If you visit the User Accounts pane in the Control Panel, it will just send you to the Settings interface.
You can’t do everything from the Settings interface, however. The Settings interface will display your user account as either an “Administrator” or “Standard” user account, for example. Want to change your account type? It’ll send you back to the Control Panel to make the change there.
You can change another user account’s account type and select Administrator or Standard from Settings > Accounts > Family & other people, but there’s no way to change your current Windows user account’s privileges without visiting the Control Panel…for some reason.
Many other advanced user account settings, including User Account Control options, are only available in the Control Panel.
Moreover, some settings are available in neither interface! Want to disable the system-wide Game Bar and Game DVR features for recording your PC gameplay? You won’t find these settings in either system-wide settings app. You’ll have to open the “Xbox” app included with Windows 10 and sign in with a Microsoft account, even if you don’t use a Microsoft account, to access these settings.
Thankfully, Microsoft will fix this problem in the forthcoming Creators Update and move these settings to the main Settings application, where they belong. But why was it even that way in the first place? And why did it take two years for them to move it to the place where it made sense?
Some New Features Are Only Available in The Control Panel…
You never know what you’ll find in one interface or another. Even some features that were introduced in Windows 8, when Microsoft added the new Settings interface, are only available in the Control Panel in Windows 10.