Microsoft has decided not to proceed with a planned Windows 11 update that would have sacrificed some existing taskbar functionality in favor of a cleaner look and feel for tablet device users.
As reported by Windows Latestan Insider Preview build released back in April 2022 included an option to disable the “Hidden Icon Menu,” which helped keep the taskbar looking tidy, which is useful for users of Windows-based tablets like the Microsoft Surface row was useful.
Unfortunately, this also caused some problems for desktop users who used the drag-and-drop feature to rearrange the order of the taskbar icons. For example, if you want to have the BlueTooth icon on the taskbar for quick access, you have to right-click the taskbar and make adjustments in the taskbar settings, whereas previously you could just drag the BlueTooth icon from the toolbar directly onto the Taskbar, then rearrange your icons to your liking in the same way.
Microsoft confirmed in a Feedback Hub post that the taskbar’s drag-and-drop functionality was removed to better optimize the operating system for tablet users, stating, “With the updates we’re rolling out for the new tablet optimized taskbar in build 22563, we no longer support dragging icons in the taskbar or between the taskbar and the flyout to show hidden icons.”
Since Windows 11 doesn’t have a dedicated operating system for tablets, these changes also impacted desktop users, leading to heavy criticism. Luckily, 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 the taskbar is restored to normal functionality.
Analysis: Does Microsoft Need a Dedicated Tablet OS?
It’s great that Microsoft is willing to admit that it made a mistake here, but it seems a pity that planned changes for tablet users are not being implemented because they disrupt the desktop version of the Windows 11 operating system. Perhaps it would be better if a standalone tablet version of the operating system were released to better serve both sides of the market.
This is clearly no small development task, but making two well-optimized products for desktop and tablet users might be better than trying to cover everyone’s needs with a single operating system, especially for tablets and 2-in-1s. devices so popular these days.
Products like Apple’s iPad Pro have proven that you can replace a laptop (or even a desktop computer) with a powerful, compact tablet depending on your needs, and it’s likely that tablet use in the workplace and educational institutions will only will increase here.
If Microsoft is hoping to compete with Apple, it certainly feels like its line of tablets needs more love than it’s currently getting. With any luck, we may get some better optimizations for tablet users in the near future without necessarily impacting those using the desktop version of Windows 11.
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