Windows 11 preview build brings changes to tablet layout and notification bar

A tablet connected to a keyboard with Windows 11 displayed on screen

Microsoft has released a new Insider build of Windows 11 that brings changes to tablet layouts and notification controls for IT administrators.

Preview build 22563, which is also available on ARM64 PCs, will now be tested by Microsoft's developer community before it rolls out fully later in the year.

The most noticeable update brings a new collapsible taskbar for tablets, which Microsoft says will make users feel more comfortable using the OS in tablet mode. The taskbar will automatically transition to the optimised version when the device is held in portrait, when the tablet is removed from its keyboard, or when it is folded back from its 2-in-1 setup. This function is only for tablets and will not work on desktops or laptops.

Screenshots of the collapsible taskbar in Windows 11's tablet mode

By collapsing the taskbar, users gain more screen space and also avoid invoking its widgets accidentally when holding the tablet. Expanding it again is done with a simple swipe up.

The taskbar itself does appear to be very simplistic and less cluttered. It's been designed to make it easier to use touchscreen functions and avoid hitting the wrong icons, by keeping enough space between them.

Microsoft has said that it is only just rolling out this feature, so it isn't available to all Insiders as yet, but it plans to monitor feedback and see "how it lands" before it is pushed out to everyone.

The build will also include changes to widgets with Microsoft testing a new 'dynamic' layout that blends widgets with news content. At face value, the change seems to affect news more than the widgets themselves; news content will come in widget-sized blocks so that the whole feed looks unified.

Widget and news content changes to Windows 11

The tech giant said that the refreshed feed would be less of a burden on users as it takes away some of the curations. However users will still be able to pin their favourite widgets to the top of the feed if they wish and those that have already customised their feed will still keep their exact layout – albeit with different looking blocks for news content.

Windows 11 admin controls

Previous Windows 11 builds have added functions to aid focus by removing distractions such as notifications.

For this latest build, IT admins will be able to pause notifications for an entire group of devices. This is aimed at education environments that want to remove distractions from study sessions.

The function will work to a deadline set by the admins, so notifications will show again once the time period has ended.

Changes are also coming to File Explorer, with an expansion of the search function in Quick Access, which will now include content from OneDrive, Downloads and any indexed locations. Any files without a local presence, such as those shared from another user's OneDrive, will show as thumbnails and will also work with OneDrive sharing.

Microsoft Edge as a snap layout

Microsoft Edge tabs have also been included as 'snap' windows, which is a feature that lets app windows float next to each other. Now, when a window is snapped, users will now see three of their most recent Edge tabs shown as suggestions by default. They can still control whether to show Microsoft Edge tabs and the number of tabs shown when snapping.

Bobby Hellard

Bobby Hellard is ITPro's Reviews Editor and has worked on CloudPro and ChannelPro since 2018. In his time at ITPro, Bobby has covered stories for all the major technology companies, such as Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook, and regularly attends industry-leading events such as AWS Re:Invent and Google Cloud Next.

Bobby mainly covers hardware reviews, but you will also recognize him as the face of many of our video reviews of laptops and smartphones.