Microsoft recently held an Ask Me Anything (AMA) session on YouTube, where engineering and product teams answered questions about the latest Windows 11 features and capabilities. One of the topics discussed was the option to move the taskbar towards the top or the sides of the screen. If you’ve been waiting for this feature, bad news: Microsoft thinks moving the taskbar isn’t big enough and, most likely, this feature isn’t coming anytime soon.
The Start menu and taskbar are among the most controversial changes in Windows 11. Microsoft threw away the old taskbar during the development process and started building the new one from scratch. As a result, developers had to decide which features should be ready for the initial launch, which features they could defer, and which features weren’t worth it. The option to move the taskbar fell into the last category.
If you’re waiting for Windows 11 sidebar support before upgrading to the latest operating system, you might be waiting a long time, according to a recent Microsoft Ask Me Anything (AMA) session.
When Windows 11 was first introduced, the most controversial changes were the new centrally placed Start menu and the reduced functionality of the Windows taskbar. In the past, the Start menu was left-aligned to the taskbar, and it was possible to move the taskbar around, so it could be pinned to the top, sides, and bottom of the screen.
Microsoft thinks that offering a mobile taskbar is too much work for too few users. Here’s how Tali Roth, product manager for Windows Core Experiences at Microsoft, explains the situation:
When it comes to something like being able to move the taskbar to different places on the screen, there are a number of challenges that come with that development. When you think you have the taskbar on the right or on the left, all of a sudden the reflow and the work that all apps have to do to be able to understand the environment is just huge.
And when you look at the data, while we know there’s a set of people who really like this operation, we also recognize that this set of users is really small compared to the set of other people who require other features. So for now we continue to focus on things that are more in demand.
It’s one of those things that we’re still looking at, and we’ll keep looking for feedback, but right now we don’t have a fixed plan or date for when we’ll develop, or if we should actually develop a side taskbar.
You can watch the entire AMA session which includes the discussion of this feature and how Microsoft decides which features were ported from Windows 10 to Windows 11 in this video:
The logic behind the explanation is easy to understand. Windows enthusiasts are a fairly vocal but relatively small community in the Windows install base with over 1.3 billion devices. Microsoft must constantly find a balance between satisfying its hardcore fans and controlling priorities for the general public. Often, decisions made by Microsoft in favor of the largest group of users hurt enthusiasts.
But the funny thing about the taskbar is that the Feedback Hub comes right up against what Tali Roth said. The ability to move the taskbar is the top rated comment, with over 17,600 thumbs up and 1,200 comments. Unless Microsoft has another tool to get more feedback from “regular” users, you can tell that a lot of Windows 11 customers want Microsoft to bring back the missing feature more than anything else.
Another Windows 10 taskbar feature is also missing, which is the ability to ungroup open windows for the same program.
As it is common for these people to have multiple instances of the same application open, be it Notepad or Office applications, combining them into a single icon on the taskbar takes too long for them to switch between multiple windows. For this reason, many Windows 10 users have said that they will not upgrade to Windows 11 until the functionality is restored.
Recall that Microsoft had confirmed in July that the Windows 11 taskbar would no longer support drag and drop only to retract a few weeks later and agree in November to restore the drag and drop option for the Windows taskbar 11.
When upgrading to Windows 11 from Windows 10, or when installing a Windows 11 update, some features may be discontinued or removed. Here is a small list:
- Voice assistant Cortana will no longer be included in the first start experience, nor pinned to the taskbar.
- Desktop wallpaper cannot be moved to or from the device when signed into a Microsoft account.
- Internet Explorer is disabled. Microsoft Edge is recommended instead and includes IE mode which can be useful in certain scenarios. For the record, Microsoft started by rolling out the stable version of the new Microsoft Edge based on the Chromium project in January 2020. According to Microsoft, it offers excellent performance, many “useful” features and above all it can use all the existing extensions of Chromium.
- Organizations’ management capabilities to provide personalized Start or taskbar experiences are limited:
- Start supports allowing organizations to override the Start menu layout, but does not support locking the layout from user change.
- Taskbar pins and commands can be controlled by organizations.
- The Math Input Panel is removed. The mathematical handwriting recognition engine installs on demand, and includes the mathematical input control as well as the recognition module. Math inking in apps such as OneNote is not affected by this change.
- Multi-App Kiosk mode is no longer available. Windows 11 only supports using a single app in kiosk mode.
- News and Interests are removed from the taskbar. Widgets will provide functionality that can be used instead.
- Lock screen quick status and related settings are removed.
- The Mode S feature, which prevents administrators and standard users from installing apps from outside the Store and blocks many Windows admin tools, will only be available for the Windows 11 Home edition.
- “Start a meeting” in Skype is replaced by “Chat”.
- The Snipping Tool remains available, but the older design and functionality of the Windows 10 version has been replaced with that of the app previously known as Snipping & Sketching.
- The Start menu is significantly changed in Windows 11, including the following major deprecations and removals:
- Named application groups and folders are no longer supported and the layout cannot be resized.
- Pinned apps and sites will not migrate when upgrading from Windows 10.
- Live thumbnails are no longer available. For visible dynamic content, check out the new Widgets feature.
- Tablet mode is removed, making way for new features and capabilities to attach or detach the keyboard.
- The taskbar is modified, including:
- Contacts no longer appear in the taskbar.
- Some icons may no longer appear in the system tray on upgraded devices, including old customizations.
- Alignment at the bottom of the screen is the only location allowed.
- Applications can no longer customize taskbar areas.
- One of the decisions that might be the most surprising is the removal of the Timeline feature, which was once the star of Windows 10 demos. According to a support note on Microsoft’s developer documentation for the feature, users of Windows 10 users who sign in with a Microsoft account will no longer be able to upload new activity to Timeline from July 2021. But the feature will be completely deprecated with the Windows 11 update.
Microsoft notes that some similar functionality is available in Microsoft Edge.
- The Touch Keyboard will no longer show and hide keyboard layouts on screens 18″ and larger.
- The wallet is deleted.