A stunning Windows 11 logo on a shaded blue landscape

Microsoft ripped out many tablet-specific features from Windows with the release of Windows 11, but the company has shown interest in bringing some of them back. There’s now a tablet-friendly taskbar in testing ahead of the big 22H2 update.

Microsoft redesigned nearly every aspect of Windows to work better on tablets for the release of Windows 8, which was part of the reason that update was so unpopular. The tablet optimizations were trimmed back for Windows 8.1, and Windows 10 introduced a separate tablet mode that made some buttons larger and displayed the Start Menu in full screen. Tablet mode was removed entirely with the release of Windows 11, but some other tablet-related settings remain.

Windows 11 tablet taskbar design

Windows 11 Insider Preview Build 25197 is rolling out to Windows Insiders in the Dev Channel, which introduces a new touch-optimized taskbar “designed to make you feel more confident and comfortable using your device as a tablet.” The updated design will only appear on tablet PCs and 2-in-1s (such as the Surface Pro or Lenovo Yoga 9i) when the keyboard is disconnected or folded backwards — it’s not available on desktops or regular laptops.

The taskbar for tablets collapses into a smaller bar, containing only your status icons, so you’re less likely to accidentally open an app. You can swipe up on the taskbar to expand it again, restoring its usual appearance. It can also be turned off completely from Settings > Personalization > Taskbar > Taskbar behaviors.

New animations in the Settings app Microsoft

If this sounds familiar, it might be because Microsoft started testing a tablet-friendly taskbar for Windows 11 back in February. However, the feature was pulled from Insider builds two months later, “as a result of feedback from Windows Insiders.” The company said it would re-introduce the feature after more work, but the updated version appears identical.

Windows 11 Insider Preview Build 25197 has a few other changes, including new hover effects for icons in the system tray, new animations in the Settings app, an Arm64-optimized build of the Calculator application, and a bunch of bug fixes. It’s not clear if the new tablet taskbar or other changes will arrive in time for the Windows 11 22H2 update, or if they will arrive later.

Source: Windows Blog

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Corbin Davenport is the News Editor at How-To Geek, an independent software developer, and a podcaster. He previously worked at Android Police, PC Gamer, and XDA Developers.
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