Microsoft could finally fix Windows 11’s strangest design choice

Windows 11 working on a laptop PC
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Windows 11 might finally allow users to shift the taskbar to different orientations on the desktop – as you can do with Windows 10 – rather than having it locked to the bottom of the screen, if a new clue spotted in preview is anything to go by.

Well-known Microsoft leaker Albacore posted on Twitter to show that with Windows 11 preview build 25309 it’s possible to do a bit of tweaking and get the taskbar to appear at the top of the screen.

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As the clip in the tweet shows, though, you end up with a broken implementation of the taskbar. Yes, it’s at the top, but when you click on icons in the bar, their respective functions appear floating at the bottom of the screen (where they’d normally be with the taskbar in its default position at the bottom).

In short, it looks like Microsoft is putting in the initial groundwork for a movable taskbar in preview right now, but it is very early stages indeed. Whether anything will come of this, well, we’ll have to keep our eyes peeled and fingers crossed – or those who want the ability to shift the taskbar around will, at any rate.


Analysis: A challenging change for Microsoft?

There might be people out there shouting at their monitors – why on earth would you want the taskbar at the top? However, this has actually been a very commonly requested feature addition for Windows 11, with plenty of users voting for the functionality to be brought to the desktop.

And choice is never a bad thing – some folks want a vertical taskbar, that runs down the side of the screen, too, as well as the potential to sling the bar up top. It’s really down to allowing for more customization of the core desktop UI, and keeping the same features as offered by Windows 10, which allows the bar to be shifted about if you wish.

As MS Power User – which spotted Albacore’s tweet – observes, though, this is something Microsoft has indicated it won’t pursue. Despite the clamor for a more mobile taskbar, Microsoft has said there are a “number of challenges” wrapped up in its implementation, and that the percentage of users wanting this change is small compared to other features. The latter assertion is certainly arguable from what we’ve seen, but there you go…

The long and short of previous statements, then, seems to be that Microsoft thinks it’d be a lot of effort for not much return – but the sighting of the ability to move the taskbar to the top, in however rudimentary a fashion, certainly gives hope to the idea that a movable taskbar is coming.

Until then, if you really want to mess around with the Windows 11 environment in this kind of way, you’ll need to resort to a third-party customization app. (It’s worth bearing in mind, though, that these apps have been causing serious trouble with the latest big Windows update, ‘Moment 2’).

Meanwhile, Microsoft recently introduced a nifty ability to the taskbar (in testing), namely the ability to kill a process right there on the bar (rather than having to mess around taking a trip to Task Manager).

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).