Microsoft has decided not to move forward with a planned Windows 11 update that would have sacrificed some existing taskbar functionality in favor of a cleaner look for those who use tablets.
As reported by Windows Latest, a preview build of Insider released in April 2022 included an option to disable the “hidden icon menu” which helped keep the taskbar tidy, which was useful for those using Windows tablets such as Microsoft Surface double up.
Unfortunately, this also caused problems for desktop users who used “drag and drop” to rearrange the order of taskbar icons. For example, if you wanted to have the BlueTooth icon on the taskbar for quick access, you had to right-click on the taskbar and make adjustments in the taskbar settings, whereas before , you could simply drag the BlueTooth icon from the taskbar. right on the taskbar, then rearrange your icons however you like in the same way.
Microsoft confirmed in a Feedback Hub post that the taskbar drag-and-drop functionality has been removed to better optimize the operating system for tablet users, stating that “with the updates we have Made to the new tablet-optimized taskbar in Build 22563, we no longer support moving icons to the system tray or between the system tray and the Show Icons flyout hidden.”
Since Windows 11 does not have a dedicated operating system for tablets, these changes have also impacted desktop users, leading to heavy criticism. Fortunately, Microsoft seems to be listening to this feedback and has announced that the planned rollout of this feature has been cancelled. Insiders who download Windows 11 Build 22616 will find that normal taskbar functionality will be restored.
Analysis: Does Microsoft need a dedicated tablet operating system?
It’s great that Microsoft is willing to admit it made a mistake with this one, but it seems a shame that the changes intended for tablet users aren’t being implemented as they interfere with the desktop version of the Windows 11 operating system. It might be better if a standalone tablet version of the operating system was released to better serve both sides of the market.
This is clearly no small development task, but it might be better to create two products that are well optimized for desktop and tablet users rather than trying to meet everyone’s needs with just one operating system, especially with tablets and 2-in-1 devices being so popular these days.
Products like Apple’s iPad Pro have proven that you can replace a laptop (or even a desktop) with a powerful, compact tablet, depending on your needs, and it’s likely that using the tablet in the workplace and in educational institutions will only grow from here.
If Microsoft hopes to compete with Apple, it certainly feels like its line of tablets will need more love than it’s getting right now. Hopefully, we can get better optimizations for tablet users in the near future without having to affect those using the desktop version of Windows 11.