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I hate the new Windows 11 taskbar

I hate the new Windows 11 taskbar

Microsoft promotes itself as a productivity company, but the new Windows 11 taskbar removes core functionality and makes me less productive as a result. Missing features include power user elements such as displaying the time and date on multiple monitors, or simple things such as having small icons and being able to move the taskbar around. There's so much missing here that I'm stunned Microsoft is shipping a new OS that takes the Windows taskbar back decades.

While this missing functionality initially looked like a bug or incomplete code, it is clear that Microsoft now intends to ship such a taskbar on October 5. I personally use three monitors on my PC, and if I'm using fullscreen apps or games on my PC. The primary one, I can't see the date or time on my other monitors. It seems like a minor problem, but it's observable information that I look at and rely on several times a day. I don't understand why Microsoft would remove this in the name of simplification.

Another major missing feature is being able to drag and drop files onto taskbar apps. I usually drag images from File Explorer to the Adobe Photoshop icon on my taskbar, where it will bring the app into focus and open the file. It no longer works, and you are presented with a giant red cross instead. This is basic functionality that has existed in Windows for years.

Elsewhere, the taskbar has been overhauled to remove most of the customization used by Windows users. You can no longer enable small icons or group icons. You can't move the taskbar to the top or sides of your screen, or adjust its height. Many users are missing Task Manager by not being part of the taskbar context menu, or the many other cascade and windowing options that were there before. Instead, the taskbar context menu has been reduced to a single taskbar settings option.

The system tray is also bad in Windows 11 as compared to Windows 10. You can't easily hide the system icons, and the whole area seems a little too simplistic for my liking. The modernization of Windows 11 is great, but the taskbar really weighs down the OS.

I've been testing Windows 11 since its initial preview release in June, and I sincerely expect the taskbar to improve in time for release. After each preview release, I boot into Windows 11, expecting to see an improvement in the taskbar, only to switch back to Windows 10 after a few minutes.

Because of this taskbar, Windows 11 will be the first version of Windows that I will not upgrade on my main PC. I've lived through Windows Vista and Windows 8, but even then, Microsoft at least allowed people to re-enable interface elements they were used to. In Windows 11 you will need to apply registry hacks or use third party programs to get the taskbar, and those workarounds can break after any OS update.

I'm not the only person complaining about the taskbar, in fact Microsoft's official Windows Feedback Hub has had countless feedback threads highlighting these issues in recent months. Microsoft tells me it's listening to user feedback, but apparently it hasn't acted on most at the time of release.

"Windows 11 was built on the design principles of making Windows intuitive, cool and more personal, while still feeling familiar," a Microsoft spokesperson said in a statement to The Verge. “The Taskbar, like many other parts of Windows 11, was redesigned from the ground up guided by these principles. With every experience in Windows 11, we are constantly listening and learning, and welcoming customer feedback. Windows 11 will continue to evolve over time; if we learn from the user experience that there are ways to improve, we will."

I still haven't heard a good explanation for this basic loss of functionality, but I suspect most of the features are missing as Microsoft revamped the taskbar for Windows 10X. Windows 10X was originally supposed to run on dual-screen devices, before Microsoft reworked it for laptops and then moved to Windows 11 instead. Microsoft greatly simplified the taskbar in Windows 10X and many other parts of the OS. This doesn't translate well to desktop PCs, or power users of Windows who rely on the taskbar every day.

I hope Microsoft proves once again that it listens to its Windows users, but until then I am staying away from Windows 11 for now.

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