Microsoft Acknowledges Mistake with Windows 11 Taskbar

man sleeping underneath his laptop

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Windows 11 Preview Build Hints at Taskbar Grouping Options

Windows 11 has released its first preview build in the new Canary channel, and while there were no significant changes, a hidden gem has been discovered. Twitter-based leaker @PhantomOfEarth pointed out @XenoPanther’s discovery of a bunch of strings tucked away under the hood in build 25314 referring to taskbar grouping.

👀 More signs of a feature for choosing taskbar app grouping behavior/showing labels (in simple terms, never combine is returning) in 25314, could we finally see it soon? New strings:’Options to group similar windows on taskbar”Show labels on taskbar pins’ 9, 2023

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This discovery hints that Microsoft is going to bring back the ‘never combine’ option when it comes to grouping apps on the taskbar. This means that each instance of the same app will be separated into individual entries on the bar instead of being automatically grouped together.

Build 25314 also includes some minor tweaks, such as the addition of Access Keys to File Explorer. These are single keystroke shortcuts labeled by a single letter in the context menu of File Explorer – simply hit the relevant key to swiftly execute the command in question. Additionally, those using Azure Active Directory will now see recommendations for files they might find useful or relevant at the top of File Explorer Home.

Analysis: It Seems Like Microsoft is Finally Listening on the Taskbar

When cooking up Windows 11, Microsoft made some mystifying decisions with the interface, leaving out some core bits of functionality seen in Windows 10, most notably with the taskbar. The ability to never combine (stack up) running instances of the same app was one of those features that got dropped.

To see a glimmer of hope that it might be inbound for the future, then, is certainly welcome. Although we still question exactly why it has taken so long for Microsoft to look at implementing this. And we must remember, this is only tinkering in the background in early testing for now – eventually it’s possible nothing could come of it, though we’re trying not to entertain that possibility, frankly. The lack of this feature is a deal-breaker for us, personally, in Windows 11.

As for the other notable taskbar omissions Microsoft made with Windows 11, drag-and-drop support was returned to the bar not so long ago. And in the future, we may also see the resurrection of the ability to move the taskbar from the bottom of the screen to the sides or top. (Currently, it’s locked down at the foot of the screen for Windows 11 users, whereas those on Windows 10 can move it around, of course).

So, it seems that Microsoft is slowly rethinking and reversing course on its taskbar philosophy with Windows 11, and frankly, it’s about time. Especially given all the feedback and voices shouting about these bits of functionality being stripped away for no good reason – not that we can think of, anyway. And don’t give us any excuses about streamlining or simplifying the UI, these can be options in Settings that no one who’s bothered about this sort of thing ever has to look at.

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