Windows 11, when released, came with a bucketload of changes. And a whole bunch of them were reserved for the main desktop where resides the Start Menu and the Taskbar.
And while Microsoft has made a number of welcome changes to the Start Menu over the past few months, the company now seems to be focused on the taskbar. Over in the right corner, we have the system tray area, and it is seeing some action.
Long overdue action, at that, as this side of the OS still makes do with old legacy components.
Redmond has been trying to modernize the tray area of the taskbar in Windows 11 for a fair while now.
In fact, the early builds of version 22H2 carried a couple of changes in this regard, but the company decided to not go ahead with them as doing so would have meant sacrificing certain features.
As you may recall, build 22581 was the one that introduced some of these changes to the system tray, before they were soon reverted back after users complained about lack of functionality in moving and changing the position of the icons.
In the latest preview builds, Microsoft has once again started working on a cleaner and more modern look for the system tray area.
The idea here is to overhaul the underlying components of the system tray so that they benefit those using tablet devices. At the same time, allowing users greater control over the notifications.
For this reason, the system tray area of the taskbar now makes use of the modern flyouts when a user hovers over the icons.
This GIF shows the work being done:
And in order to make the UI more suitable for tablet users, Microsoft now provides the ability to entirely disable the tray menu and the icons inside it. This can be done by locating the new option added in Settings > Personalization > Taskbar > Other system tray icons and toggling “Hide icon menu”.
Doing so will disable all the icons, leaving only indicators like network/WiFi, volume, battery, and input language visible on the taskbar.
Of course, this change, once again, takes away the ability to rearrange the order of the taskbar icons via drag and drop. But since Microsoft still appears to be working on this idea, there is a chance that this functionality gets back in before the wider rollout.
With Windows 11 not having a dedicated tablet mode, this are the best options we have for owners of Windows powered slates.