Microsoft tests Windows taskbar tweaks you’ll actually care about
Microsoft is testing tweaks to the Windows 11 taskbar that may return it—somewhat—to the glory days of Windows 10, according to reports by beta testers.
Microsoft is apparently testing two features: item labels, as well as the ability to ungroup items. A third, the ability to hide the date and time, is apparently being worked on as well.
Microsoft tests new features in both the Windows Insider Canary Channel and Dev Channel, both avenues for code, which may or may not eventually ship to actual mainstream users. Microsoft released a pair of new builds late on Wednesday: Insider Build 23440 for the Dev Channel, and Insider Build 23546 for the Canary Channel. The Canary Channel is for the next iteration of Windows (Windows 12, hypothetically) while the Dev Channel focuses on Windows 11.
What Twitter leaker Albacore discovered, and Windows Latest confirmed, are the three new features. (Microsoft disclosed the ability to turn off date and time in its Build 23440 notes.)
What you can’t do, apparently, is move the Windows 11 taskbar around your screen, or expand it—you’ll still need a third-party utility like Start11 to achieve that. But the ability to “ungroup” taskbar icons means less of a chance that you’ll actually lose any tabs that you want to preserve. More explicit taskbar item labels will do the same.
Microsoft’s new Dev Channel build also includes a few handy tweaks: the ability to turn on and manage Windows Spotlight, which adds personalized wallpapers, by right-clicking your desktop. You’ll also be able to see a network troubleshooter when you right-click the taskbar and the network icon. Microsoft also hopes to tweak the taskbar’s Search box by permitting a flyout when your hover over it, but Microsoft uncovered a glitch and killed it, the company said.
Microsoft’s Canary Channel build offers familiar updates, too. In recent Dev Channel builds, Microsoft added features to control the screen brightness automatically on supported laptops, as well as manage presence detection on similar devices. Those are being added to the Canary Channel. Microsoft is also offering an interesting new feature: the ability to turn off HDR support while running on battery. HDR actually dials up your screen brightness (when called for by the scene) to better improve visual fidelity—at the expense of your laptop’s battery.