Windows 11 is finally getting a feature I’ve been keenly awaiting since the OS was released – yes, a ‘never combine’ option is coming to the taskbar. Oh, a joyous and rapturous day indeed (ahem).
This is one of many changes brought forth with a new preview build (23466) in the Dev channel, and it has been previously speculated about in a number of leaks.
Turning on 'never combine' mode for the taskbar means that apps are always kept as individual entries on the bar, even when multiple copies of the same application are open at the same time.
With multiple instances of apps, by default Windows 11 stacks them up – combines them, so to speak – into one entry on the taskbar. Never combined, as the name suggests, means this doesn’t happen, and they all stay separate – and you can see the labels on those individual instances (telling you which web page is currently active, for example, in a browser window).
Not all testers will see this straightaway, Microsoft informs us, as it’s a gradual rollout. So even if you’re a Windows Insider hanging out in the Dev channel, it may still be some time before you receive the option.
Happiness is a non-combining taskbar
The introduction of the never combined option for the taskbar is a big one for me, as the lack of this feature is pretty much the biggest reason why I’ve not upgraded to Windows 11 yet. (There are other niggles, too, but let’s not stray off-topic).
That probably sounds a bit overblown, but seriously, stacking up apps on the taskbar is a deal-breaker as far as I’m concerned. I hate this way of working – it truly bugs me – so I was pretty mystified when Windows 11 turned up without never combine (as it’s known in Windows 10 – I’m not sure why it’s now ‘combined’ in Windows 11, but it doesn’t really matter).
It’s never a good idea to remove choice as far as I’m concerned, but Microsoft didn’t do this out of some arbitrary desire, we were told. The chatter from the usual insider sources suggested that adding what seems like a simple bit of functionality on the face of it was actually a pretty complex issue around how the interface of the latest OS was built from the ground up.
I’m not sure how far I buy into that, but I can accept the basic premise. I just can’t understand why it has taken so very long for Microsoft to introduce this for Windows 11 – clearly, it was pretty far down whatever interface priority lists were drawn up internally.
But hey, it’s here now, if only in testing. Hopefully, Microsoft will manage to push this change through in the big update at the end of the year (23H2). After all, the groundwork should’ve been the hard bit here, so honing the feature shouldn’t be that much of a task. I hope.
Then I can fire up that Windows 11 upgrade, finally, and get with the OS times. This feels a bit more like a pressing need following the announcement that Windows 10 won’t get any more features at all (save minor tweaks – there’ll be no 23H2 update for the older operating system, as you may recall).