Microsoft is applying as a the Productivity company, but the new Windows 11 system tray removes important features, making me less productive. The missing features include power user elements like displaying the time and date on multiple monitors or simple things like small icons and the ability to move the taskbar. So much is missing here that I’m stunned that Microsoft is shipping a new operating system that will set the Windows taskbar back decades.
While this lack of functionality initially appeared like bugs or unfinished code, it’s clear that Microsoft now intends to ship the taskbar that way on October 5th. I personally use three monitors on my PC, and when I’m using a full screen app or game on my primary, I can’t see the date or time on my other monitors. That sounds like a bit of a problem, but it’s fleeting information that I look at and rely on several times a day. I just don’t understand why Microsoft is removing this in the name of simplicity.
Another big missing feature is dragging and dropping files onto taskbar apps. I usually drag images from File Explorer onto the Adobe Photoshop icon in my system tray, where it brings the app into focus and opens the file. This will no longer work and you will get a giant red cross instead. This is a basic functionality that has been around in Windows for years.
Elsewhere, the taskbar has been redesigned to remove many of the customizations that Windows users are used to. You can no longer activate small icons or ungroup icons. You can’t even move the taskbar to the top or side of your screen or adjust its height. Many users also miss the Task Manager, which is not part of the taskbar context menu, or the many other cascade and window options that existed before. Instead, the taskbar context menu has been reduced to a single option for the taskbar settings.
The taskbar is also worse in Windows 11 than in Windows 10. System icons cannot be hidden so easily, and the whole area feels a bit too simplified for my taste. Windows 11’s modernization is great, but the system tray really lets the operating system down.
I’ve been testing Windows 11 since it’s first preview version in June, and I honestly expected the system tray to improve in time for release. After each preview, I boot into Windows 11, expecting to see improvements to 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 won’t upgrade to on my main PC. I’ve lived through Windows Vista and Windows 8, but even then, Microsoft has at least allowed people to re-enable the UI elements they were used to. In Windows 11, you’ll have to apply registry hacks or use third-party programs to get your familiar system tray, and these workarounds can fail after every operating system update.
I’m not the only person complaining about the taskbar, in fact, there have been tons of feedback threads on Microsoft’s official Windows Feedback Hub over the past few months highlighting these issues. Microsoft tells me it listens to user feedback, but it apparently didn’t implement most of it in time for release.
“Windows 11 is based on the design principles to make Windows effortless, calmer and more personal, while it still feels familiar,” said a Microsoft spokesman in a statement The edge. “Taskbar, like many other parts of Windows 11, has been redesigned from the ground up, guided by these principles. As with any experience with Windows 11, we are constantly listening and learning, and we appreciate customer feedback that Windows is helping to shape. Windows 11 will evolve over time; If we learn from user experience that there is room for improvement, we will. “
I still haven’t heard a good explanation for this basic loss of functionality, but I suspect most of the functionality is missing because Microsoft remodeled the taskbar for Windows 10X. Windows 10X was originally supposed to be run on dual screen devices, before Microsoft revised for laptops and then moved to Windows 11 instead. Microsoft has greatly simplified the taskbar in Windows 10X and many other parts of the operating system. That hasn’t carried over well to desktop PCs or to Windows power users who rely on the taskbar on a daily basis.
I hope Microsoft will prove once again that it listens to its Windows users, but until then, I’ll stay away from Windows 11 for now.