The Taskbar has emerged as the poster child for everything that is wrong with Windows 11. But is it really that bad?
Why, yes. Yes, it is.
The Taskbar first appeared in Windows 95, and at that time Microsoft positioned this UI as being similar to the channel buttons on a television, where the user could select the app they wanted and switch to it. Over time, the Taskbar was enhanced in each new version of Windows, with perhaps the biggest change coming in 2009, in Windows 7, when Microsoft commingled app launching shortcuts with those for running apps.
Unfortunately, Windows 11 brought the biggest set of functional regressions related to the Taskbar since this interface first debuted. It is no longer possible to position the Taskbar on any side of the display. It no longer supports toolbars. You cannot right-click default Microsoft items to remove them, as was possible in Windows 10. You can no longer resize the Taskbar. You cannot drag files to an app shortcut and open them in the underlying app. And when you right-click the Taskbar, only a single item—“Taskbar settings”—appears in the resulting context menu; the Windows 10 Taskbar had many, many items in this menu, including quick access to Task Manager. And there are probably others I’m forgetting.
Unfortunately, Microsoft has indicated that it has no plans to fix many of these issues. Despite Taskbar complaints being among the top feedback for Windows 11, the firm said in April that too few people used the missing features in previous Windows versions. And so bringing them back in Windows 11 is not a priority.
The issue, of course, is that the Windows 11 Taskbar, like the new Start menu, has been built from scratch. That is, Microsoft didn’t take features away from the Taskbar we used in Windows 10, it simply started over with a new interface that it says is faster and more reliable.
In any event, Microsoft is making some improvements to the Taskbar in Windows 10 version 22H2. Key among them is the return of drag and drop: you can once again drag a document or image file to a compatible running app’s Taskbar shortcut and that app will open so you can drop the file, opening it in that app as before. There is one weirdism, however: The dragged file icon will have a “No” symbol overlay—a circle with a line through it—which typically indicates that the operation you are attempting will not work. But it does work now.
Taskbar shortcuts also now support a “Share this window” feature that Microsoft previewed at the original Windows 11 reveal in July 2021 but never implemented in the initial release of the OS. This feature is designed to streamline the process of sharing the display of an app with others in an online meeting. It only supports Microsoft Teams right now, but this functionality can come to similar apps like Skype or Zoom should their makers choose to do so. Share this window will appear as an overlay on the live thumbnail for running apps when you’re in a Teams call.
And speaking of promised features that were never implemented, Windows 10 22H2 also sees the arrival of the Taskbar-based Mute/Unmute switch, which lets you quickly mute or unmute the app currently using the microphone, though this feature also only supports Teams at this time. (Apps need to add support for this feature manually, so it could come to other apps over time.) In the original version of Windows 11—and in Windows 11 22H2 with incompatible apps—a microphone icon still appears in the Taskbar when that hardware is being used, but clicking it will launch Settings to the Microphone page so that you can mute/unmute from there and perform other related operations.
And that’s about it: Microsoft fixed only one functional regression in the Taskbar and it added two features that it first promised last July.
north of 49thPremium Member
<p>Paul, concerning the task manager – if you right click on the start button, the task manager is an option. I know it’s not the task bar, but it is a close substitute… </p><p>I recently purchased a new PC to replace a 10-year-old laptop and am discovering</p><p>the Windows 11 experience.</p>
<p>Or for people who really use the <em>Task Manager</em> app that-regularly… maybe just pin it to the Taskbar, so it’s one-click access?</p>
<p>Or it Win+X then T</p>
<p>Or press [Ctrl] [shift] [Esc]</p>
<p>Why would you do it otherwise?</p>
<p>People shouldn’t need to use Task Manager a lot. This is a sign Windows isn’t as stable as it needs to be. It should be a tool that is rarely used. </p>
<p>Unless you’re a developer. I use it all the time.</p>
<p>Indeed few should need to use it with any regularity FOR KILLING PROCESSES. However, Task Manager has other uses, such as watching disk, RAM and network usage.</p><p><br></p><p>As for when it’s needed to kill processes, that’s when [Ctrl]+[Alt]+[Delete] may be the best way to launch it.</p>
<p>I use Task Manager all the time, sometimes for killing non-Microsoft applications but also to monitor system performance like CPU, RAM, SSD, and Network activity.</p>
<p>Or use the keyboard: [Ctrl]+[Shift]+[Esc], which goes back further than an an entry in the Taskbar’s context menu. Or [Ctrl]+[Alt]+[Delete], which displays a menu that includes Task Manager. Or [Win]+R, then type taskman and press [Enter].</p><p><br></p><p>OTOH, there were items in the Taskbar context menu for which there aren’t lots of alternatives, e.g., cascade or tile windows. Me, I’ve never seen any use for cascading different application windows, but there were a few times I cascaded active document windows in applications with MDIs.</p>
<p>As an IT Microsoft has me thinking of a new profession. It seems everything I have been doing for the last 20+ years Microsoft now thinks is the wrong way to do it. I have zero faith they will do what is right. These changes are not because of feedback because if it was they wouldn’t be there.</p>
<p>For all the good things they seem to be doing with Windows 11. They seem to care only about non-power users. Until they support power users and allow for basic things like show running app titles and not grouping multiple instances of a running app, I don’t want anything to do with Windows 11.</p>
<p>No, no it’s not.</p>
<p>Heh, even before reading the article I was just going to reply to the headline with "Y<span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">es, yes it is" but Paul beat me to it when I viewed the article! The taskbar shows everything that’s wrong with Windows 11. Why Microsoft doesn’t realize that the modern PC is for </span><em style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">folks to get stuff done </em><span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">with and not prioritize that type of use is beyond me.</span></p>
<p>Doug, you’re right. "Does this proposed change help <em>folks get stuff done" </em>should be posted above every Windows OS decision maker’s desk.</p>
<p>Sadly, they’ll ignore it.</p>
<p>You sweet summer child.</p><p><br></p><p>MSFT people won’t ignore it. They’ll babble about how their telemetry data tells them only 0.x% of Windows users use feature Y, and they won’t mention that the 0.x% use Y to be more productive. You have to understand that combining lying with statistics and obfuscation is a skill at which MSFT requires all managers to excel.</p>
<p>The inability to remove the teams icon and the fact it doesn’t work unless you are connected to an organization using teams is such a waste of precious real-estate. </p><p><br></p><p>I punched out after 24hr trial spin and went into my computer and disabled all the TPM functionality made me Windows 11 compatible. Now I never have to worry about windows 11 force installing itself via windows update. </p><p><br></p>
<p>I know you’re "out" already, but the Teams icon takes 2s to remove (right-click taskbar, "taskbar settings", unselect "chat"). You also can use it (although I don’t know who would really <em>want</em> to) without having to belong to any sort of org.</p>
<p>Thanks for the tip. </p><p><br></p><p>I didn’t think to go into taskbar settings. I was trying to interact with the icon directly. I assumed, incorrectly, that it would behave like other programs pinned to the taskbar. </p><p><br></p><p><br></p><p><br></p>
<p>If they were starting over from scratch, maybe they should have waited for their new product to reach functional equivalence with the thing they were replacing <em>before</em> <em>replacing it.</em></p><p><br></p><p>I do not understand anything about their design decision process. Trying to convince customers to buy an "upgrade" that has features that they specifically do not want, lacks features they are specifically requesting, and does not yet even meet functional equivalence with the thing they want to replace, and then trying to sell it as "We know better than you about what you need" is a wonderfully perfect disaster of a marketing strategy.</p><p><br></p><p>I recently had the joy of getting updated to Office 365 in my office, and discovered to my frustration that the title bars of all of my Office products are now cluttered with drop-down menus that I do not want there. So I do the natural thing, and go search for how to turn them off.</p><p><br></p><p>The first thing I find is a thread full of complaints on Microsoft’s TechNet site from <em>three years ago</em> about these features unnecessarily cluttering Office window title bars, and being generally useless and/or redundant due to their duplication of features elsewhere in the programs.</p><p><br></p><p>The official response?</p><p><br></p><p> "Hi,</p><p>The Search box is designed as a new powerful tool in Office 365. I am afraid that we cannot remove it in Word 365."</p><p><br></p><p>All of these functional regressions in Win11 feel like the same thing, where they are absolutely convinced of their decisions being the best ones, and no customer feedback is worthy of consideration. </p><p><br></p><p>In very blunt terms, their strategy appears to have become, "We know better than you. Deal with it."</p><p><br></p><p><br></p><p><br></p><p><br></p>
<p>I hate all the title bar clutter crap. It used to be easy to click on the title bar and drag the window that’s in the background around. Now you’re more likely to activate some feature you didn’t mean to when looking for that little bare space to grab that was almost certainly hiding behind another window. It’s like they all took the "Steve Jobs pill" and as you said, we’re making these changes and know way better than you what you need so suck it up and deal with it. I want my "truck" back.</p>
<p>For me personally, the inability to add toolbars to the taskbar is the number one reason not to move to windows 11. The lack would make me less productive! Currently there are over 1,100 upvotes for bringing this feature back in the feedback hub. Paul, do you have a feel for how many upvotes it would take to get Microsoft to bring this feature back?</p>
<p><em>"For me personally, the inability to add toolbars to the Taskbar is the number one reason not to move to Windows 11"</em></p><p><br></p><p>I think that is certain you, and very-few others, yes. I can’t say I’ve ever known many users to ever add a folder to their Taskbar, or access the "Address Bar" from it. (I’ve just tested the <em>Address Bar</em> on Win10 21H2 and to my shock the website actually opens in my default-browser, not forcing <em>Edge</em>!)</p><p><br></p><p>I think more-users really would want things like being able to move the Taskbar, use the "small" height mode, and to "not combine" multiple windows for an app into the one Taskbar button, before the things you mentioned. They’re certainly things I actually see many of our users using, anyway!</p>
<p>For me too. I will try to postpone upgrading my desktop machine until that is fixed.</p>
<p>I was able to bring that functionality back with the use of StartAllBack. It really makes Windows 11 usable.</p>
<p>Speaking of functional regressions. When Windows 10 first came out, there was a whole complicated series of steps to activate a VPN. I added a one line batch file for VPN activation to my toolbar to get around that problem. Over time, Windows 10 improved and allowed the user to click on the network icon and then click to select the VPN. Discoverable and easy enough. Windows 11 has regressed the VPN functionality to add another click to that process. I can’t even add my batch file back because Windows 11 taskbar doesn’t support toolbars!</p>
<p>There is another perspective. Windows has become too complex, unintuitive, and inconsistent. Bringing over every function just keeps it complex and unintuitive. It needs simplification and Microsoft is taking steps in that direction. It needs more work to simplify the UX, as well as make it consistent across the board. One step I wish Microsoft would make is to forget about touch and 2-in-1’s and focus solely on keyboard and mouse, traditional PC form factors. The more I use macOS, the more this becomes very apparent to me.</p><p><br></p><p>One compromise could be to continue simplifying Windows 11 Home and add features professionals want to Pro or if the demand is high enough. That would keep the consumer and average user version of Windows bought in a store simple, more intuitive, and more consistent while giving power users or professionals additional capabilities that complicate the user experience. </p>
<p>I have often thought that Microsoft needed to split Windows into Home and Professional versions. Keep the Windows 7 interface for Professional, and just add and repair stuff under the hood.</p><p><br></p><p>For the things I did for work, Windows 10 had zero advantage over Windows 7, though it’s easy enough to live with. Since retiring I have had less and less need for Windows so in 2025, I plan to retire my remaining Windows computers.</p>
<p>Don’t retire them. Move them to VMs which you could run from a Linux host. Assuming, of course, your licenses permit that.</p>
<p>Your comment raises exactly the issue that MS must contend with–different users wanting different things. Now I <strong>suspect</strong> that their decisions are made based on telemetry data, which is going to be skewed toward the low end user since higher end users know how to turn it down a good bit, and this could explain why they don’t consider some of the shortcuts tech pros use all the time vital.</p><p><br></p><p>But to address your specific suggestion, there are many of us who use touch (and ink) and 2-in-1 devices constantly and, frankly in my opinion, Microsoft is the only one with a full-blown desktop OS that does these close to right.</p>
<p>| <em>inconsistent</em></p><p><br></p><p>Examples? Some programs support dark theme/mode, others don’t? Is that the OS or the application?</p><p><br></p><p>Many ways to do the same thing may be bloat, may add to complexity, but they’re not <em>inconsistent</em> unless some particular step is used to do one thing in one part of the OS and to do the opposite thing in another part of the OS. For example, if most dialogs have the [OK] button to the left of the [Cancel] button (at least when using languages written left to right), then some dialogs having [Cancel] to the left of [OK] would be an example of inconsistency. Maybe another type of inconsistency would be using sliders or check boxes for 2-state settings while using drop-down lists with 2 items for other settings. In my experience, that’s rare.</p>
<p>I don’t mind the Taskbar, it’s the System Tray and Start Menu that are horrible.</p>
<p>A regression that drives me crazy is the agenda / today’s tasks list that used to be on the time/calendar tool on the taskbar. One click and there’s my day at a glance. I need that restored frankly before I need to be able to dock the taskbar to the right side of my ultrawide or the right click to get the task manager which like Paul has said repeatedly I have decades of muscle memory linked to that action. Fortunately, the only system I currently have Win11 running on is my SP6. My daily driver workstation doesn’t have a TPM chip in it so Win11 will (currently) never run on it.</p>
<p>Personally, I think y’all are just seeing what those of us who loved Windows 8 and Windows Phones dealt with. Microsoft ignored us because we didn’t represent their target demo. Most of you hated live tiles, the touch-centric approach, etc, the result being WE lost all that in favor of this piece of garbage that degraded w/Windows 10 and now is this ridiculous excuse for an OS called Windows 11. I have Windows 11 on my Surface Pro 6, and I kept Windows 10 on my Surface Pro 7. The SP6 is a complete pain in the butt to use because Win11 is user-spiteful. It’s touch-spiteful. And it’s UGLY AS SIN. So, forgive me if I get just a little bit of satisfaction watching the clenching of teeth over the list of Windows 11 failings I see posted on all the websites.</p>
<p>What Windows needs is MSFT providing MULTIPLE desktop shells. Not the variety available for Linux, but at the very least, a Windows 8-like touch-focused UI, a Windows 7-like decidedly NONTOUCH UI, and a lobotomized Windows 11-like UI for people who use smartphones much more of the time than they use PCs.</p><p><br></p><p>Make the UI choice one of the things users choose during the OOBE on first startup for new PCs.</p>
<p>"What Windows needs is MSFT providing MULTIPLE desktop shells."</p><p><br></p><p>To quote the meme clip: "<strong>No God! No God, please no! NO! NO! NOOOOO!</strong>"</p><p><br></p><p><em>Windows</em> should have a "touch UI" (where things are bigger and more spaced-out) and a "mouse UI", where things are smaller. And that’s it. There is little-point thesedays in bothering with a "smartphone style UI", when Microsoft do not have a smartphone-line anymore — and if anyone <em>really</em> wants such UIs on <em>Windows</em>, they can just install <em>Android</em> apps into <em>Windows 11</em> to do that.</p><p><br></p><p>Please let’s not copy <em>Linux</em> on <em>Windows</em> and have equivalents to "GNOME" (available in "GNOME 3", "Classic", "Flashback" and "MATE" (aka "GNOME 2")) variants; "Unity" (still hanging-around), "Gtk" (available in "Cinnamon", "LXDE" and "Xfce" variants); and "Qt" (available in "KDE 5" and "LXQt" variants, or "Trinity" (aka "KDE 4")). And that’s not-counting the other obscure ones, that try to mimic the look of other systems, such as macOS!</p><p><br></p><p>One of the <em>good things</em> about <em>Windows</em> is no matter which <u>edition</u> a person uses (Home, Pro, Pro for Workstations, Education, IoT or Enterprise) the core UI is <em>exactly-the-same</em> between them! Compare that to something like <em>Linux Mint</em> where the <em>Cinnamon, MATE</em> and <em>XFCE</em> variants all differ-slightly in the UI, AND some of the preinstalled bundled-apps, AND which settings you can adjust from the GUI.</p>
<p>| <em>One of the good things about Windows is no matter which <u>edition</u> a person uses (Home, Pro,</em></p><p>| <em>Pro for Workstations, Education, IoT or Enterprise) the core UI is exactly-the-same between them!</em></p><p><br></p><p>That’d mean more if all Windows users were using the same Windows version. At the moment, there are 3 versions in support, each with very different desktop UIs. And, if you believe StatCounter, there are about 3 times as many people using the no longer supported Windows 7 than the supported Windows 8.1 <strong>plus</strong> the unsupported Windows 8.</p><p><br></p><p>I like the same OS behind the scenes, but I can’t stand the latest desktop shell. Thank goodness it’s still easy to replace it with 3rd party alternatives.</p>
<p><em>"That’d mean more if all Windows users were using the same Windows version. At the moment, there are 3 versions in support, each with very different desktop UIs."</em></p><p><br></p><p>Sure, but how is that any different from most other OSes? Many <em>Linux </em>users run older "LTS" versions where there will be UI differences between them. Or even <em>the same current versions</em> (as-in the same Linux kernel), such-as the latest <em>Linux Mint</em> 20.3 release, but with either the "Cinnamon", "MATE" or "XFCE" interface. Likewise, what about <em>Android</em>, and all the people there on older versions with UI differences, which is before we even go-into the different custom UIs, such as on Samsung’s phones. Or how-about games-consoles: there will be differences between PS4 and PS5, and Xbox One and Xbox Series, but both generations are still "in-support". Or how-about all the different web-browsers people use now and the UI differences between them?</p><p><br></p><p>This isn’t an issue exclusive to just <em>Windows</em>. And after January, only two main families of <em>Windows</em> on the client-side will then be supported: <em>10</em> and <em>11</em>. 8.1 will end support; as-will <em>Windows 7 </em>for any companies still paying for the ESU programme.</p>
<p>So it happens yet again. Waiting as long as possible to switch from XP and again from Windows 7. Skipping Windows 8 and finally moving to 10 when it became almost as usable as Windows 7. This time I’m just not gonna do it. There will never be a compelling reason for me (and I suspect most Windows users) to move to 11 other than being forced to. And forced I won’t this time. Chromebook or Apple or even (gasp) Linux will be preferable. Or if some company wakes up and makes a real Chromebook competitor that runs pure Android or Linux or some such. The services I do use such as OneDrive and O365 should work fine from these platforms. Or maybe I’m just silly and should embrace the embarrassment of Windows 11?</p>
<p>You might as well just skip <em>Windows 11</em> and wait for the now-inevitable <em>Windows 12</em>, which I would estimate will get released sometime around September-October time in 2024, to allow for a year of polishing it up and making it ready for <em>Windows 10</em> users to then consider, once their support ends.</p><p><br></p><p>Many people stayed on <em>XP</em> and skipped <em>Vista</em>; likewise many skipped <em>8 </em>and <em>8.1</em> and went straight-from <em>Windows 7 </em>to <em>10</em>. I’ll bet a large-number will also skip <em>11</em> and go-directly to <em>12</em>.</p>
<p>is it bad?</p><p>I will answer with no.</p><p>because in win10 I only used start to open apps.</p><p>and the taskbar to only open regularly used apps.</p><p>for me, the new start and the taskbar feel more intuitive.</p>
<p>I won’t use win11, and will continue to try to prevent others from using it, for as long as "only combine when full" and "small icons" taskbar settings are missing.</p><p><br></p><p>The start menu is also a complete mess now too. win11 should not be encouraged, supported, or celebrated. Users are allowed to have a growth mindset too. Customers are capable of learning and depending on "power user" features (they’re not really power user features). Show them these features, many more might like them.</p><p><br></p><p>The new taskbar and start menu are not intuitive. They’re frustratingly limited and filled with asinine behavior that someone else thinks is right.</p>
<p>Taskbar with small icons would mean not allowing for touch mode, ESPECIALLY on desktop PCs with actual mice (separate from keyboard) and nontouch monitors. Not acceptable to MSFT. You must have a touch-based UI even if you’re so benighted not to have touch-capable hardware!</p>
<p>At work, this is currently NBD since we’re going to continue using Windows 10 through the end of 2023.</p><p><br></p><p>At home, this is NBD for those willing to use 3rd party desktop UI component replacements. FWIW, I’ve been doing so since the Norton Desktop for Windows in Windows 3.1. Windows 2.x, 3.0, NT4 and 2K have been the only periods in which I used whatever MSFT provided. I may be one of the few who didn’t like Windows 7’s Start menu, and once I discovered Classic Shell (which has become Open Shell) I once again had a 2K-like Start menu.</p><p><br></p><p>At least MSFT still makes it relatively simple to use 3rd party desktop UI component replacements. However, it’d be better still if it provided an alternative, <strong><em>productive</em></strong> desktop shell in addition to the dumbed-down, Son of Windows 10X desktop UI no one asked for.</p>
<p>Anyone else feel that WIN2K was really the pinnacle of Windows UI? Uniform 3D effects. Fast. Intuitive. I totally forgot to mention it as it was more like NT 6.0.</p>
<p>The dragging files to apps in the taskbar to bring a window up front has been a welcome return using 22H2. Using a mix of selecting a set of files, dragging them, then using Alt + Tab to bring up the window I need them in was a contortion I got good at with the original Windows 11 release but will gladly forget.</p>
<p>"<span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">improvements to the Taskbar in Windows 10 version 22H2</span>" — do you mean Windows 11?</p>
<p>also in the penultimate paragraph</p>
<p>Still unusable without installing StartAllBack</p>