Unassuming it may seem, but the trusty old Taskbar is one of the most useful features in Windows — an old acquaintance for novices and a good friend to power users. It is also one feature of Windows 11 that has seen a complete makeover.
A makeover that has the potential to generate quite a bit of controversy!
If you’ve been reading up on Windows 11 coverage across the web, one thing that is yet to be mentioned is that the majority of the options for the Taskbar have been eliminated. That is because Microsoft seems to have rewritten the Taskbar in XAML.
The Windows desktop has more recently been a hodgepodge. Different technologies were used to stitch together, code, and program the various features like the Start Menu, the Taskbar, system applets, and whatnot.
This was dialed up to 11 (pardon the pun) in recent years with the launch of the new Start Menu. But the option of fallback was always there thanks to the Taskbar retaining its older, classic codebase. Reason why a range of third-party Start Menu alternatives popped up in quick succession.
In Windows 11, though, Microsoft seems to have designed a new Taskbar from the ground up using modern technologies. What this basically means is that a lot of features are now missing. Many might be in development, but some may not make the jump.
Gone is the cornucopia of options that were available in the current Taskbar.
Options like the ability to move and resize the Taskbar, cascade the windows, use small icons, or even the handy little context menu that allowed the possibility of starting up the Task Manger straight from the Taskbar.
Instead, we get this simple little single menu that opens up the Settings section of the Taskbar, with a very limited selection of options like left or center orientation, turning the built-in icons on or off, autohide and that’s pretty much it.
This also means that software compatibility of the Taskbar is also negatively affected. No longer is it possible to pin a folder to the Taskbar, or take a file and open it in an already running program by dragging and dropping.
You also miss out on the ability to create your own custom Toolbars, which is something that goes all the way back to the Windows 98 days. And crucially, there doesn’t seem to be any option to not combine Taskbar buttons, in a classic style before Windows 7.
Clearly, this is an area where Microsoft has a lot of work remaining.