Microsoft Is Testing Improvements to Windows 11’s Taskbar and Start Menu

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Windows 11 launched earlier this year with a raft of UX changes, and users don’t love all of them. Case in point, the taskbar, which Microsoft opted to simplify both visually and functionally. The complaints are getting through, though. In the latest Insider builds, Microsoft has started testing several quality-of-life improvements to the taskbar and start menu, but don’t get too excited — it can take months to get from an Insider build to release. 

The Windows 11 taskbar is instantly recognizable compared to the Win10 version thanks to the centered icons, but the changes are more than skin deep. Digging in, you’d quickly realize that many of the features you’ve taken for granted are gone. For example, there’s almost nothing in the taskbar’s context menu, and you can’t drag files onto taskbar icons anymore. If you were a top or side taskbar person, too bad, you’re not going to be doing that on Windows 11. 

There is good news, though. Microsoft is testing a build of Windows 11 that addresses two specific pain points. The first one is a taskbar tweak that I will personally be very happy to see. In a future build, Windows 11 will return the clock and date on secondary monitors, which was the default in Windows 10. The lack of a clock has prompted developers to create apps that do the same thing, but it’ll be nice to have the feature built into Windows again. 

The new start menu options being tested.

The other big UX change is in the start menu, which got a big revamp in Windows 11. Instead of tiles and a list of all your apps, the default view shows pinned apps and recommended files. The new version lets you choose between showing fewer recommendations and more apps or more recommendations and fewer apps. That should make it easier to find what you want. For good measure, the new test version includes more settings in the “new” settings app making their way over from the Control Panel. 

These new features are only appearing in the latest Insider build now, and it can take a long time before these experimental features come to the versions of Windows the rest of us use. If you’re not even on Windows 11 yet, you can upgrade a compatible system manually using Microsoft’s upgrade tool. Alternatively, you can wait for the official rollout via Windows Update, which might not arrive until well into 2022.

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