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Microsoft testing fresh UI for the Windows 11 taskbar

A minor U-turn sees the developer experimenting with new search icons on the taskbar, alongside widget notification badges, and a Camera app

Microsoft is experimenting with new user interface changes for the Windows 11 taskbar, according to its latest Insider Build. 

The tech giant will test an iteration of the Windows 10 taskbar, as well as notification badges for the widgets section in Windows 11. 

Since Windows 11 launched last year, the taskbar has been a target for criticism, particularly its lack of functionality, with many users complaining that it can't be moved to other screen edges and that its search function is limited.

This could be seen as a very minor U-turn from Microsoft, which has previously said it wasn't something it saw as a priority. Testing the more familiar Windows 10 taskbar on Windows 11, however, hasn't specifically been categorised as Microsoft fixing the problem around mobility, although it does signal intent to examine what worked well in the previous operating system (OS). 

Instead, it appears to be centred more around the aesthetic of the the search icons. Build 25158 will offer an experimental user interface (UI) for how the search button is presented on the taskbar, with three new designs. The first will be the traditional search icon, the second will be a short search bar and the third will be a slightly longer search bar. 

UI refresh options for the Windows 11 taskbar

There are other changes on the way too, including notifications for the widgets panel which will feature on the taskbar when breaking news alerts go live. A new Camera app for Windows 11 with QR code and barcode scanning functions and a new Media Player are also available for testing.

It's worth noting that these are merely experiments and are unlikely to go through to full deployment if they're poorly received by Microsoft's developer community. An example of functions that didn't quite land with testers is the search bar widget from the desktop, which has been removed. Microsoft said it had concluded that experiment. 

Developers will need to reboot their machines after updating to the new build, though Microsoft notes that not all Windows Insiders will have the new experiences enabled even after rebooting. 

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