Microsoft is making another big change to Windows 11

Windows 11 logo PC
(Image credit: / mundissima)

It appears Microsoft is making a big change to one of Windows 11’s most useful features, with a redesigned Task Manager appearing in a new preview build.

Preview builds of Windows 11 are made available to select users who have signed up to be ‘Windows Insiders’. They can check out new and upcoming features, while pointing out any issues or bugs, giving Microsoft a good idea of the kind of reception the new feature will get, while also having any problems pointed out and fixed, before it gets rolled out to all Windows 11 users.

As Windows Central reports, the latest build, 22538, comes with a tweaked Task Manager with a new design that’s more in keeping with the rest of Windows 11’s look. Not only does it now look more like it belongs in Windows 11, the tabs for switching between views are no longer at the top of the app. Instead, they run down the left-hand side as a menu, much like most modern Windows 11 apps.

Microsoft hasn’t mentioned any tweaks to the Task Manager, and it appears that the version in build 22538 is extremely early, as it’s not fully functional. If you rely on Task Manager, as many of us do (it’s a handy tool for closing unresponsive programs or checking how your system is running), then give Windows 11 build 22538 a miss for now.

Still, it gives us an idea of what Microsoft is planning for the iconic Task Manager.

Analysis: tweak carefully

We’re always pleased to hear that Microsoft is working on improving its legacy apps and bringing them in line with Windows 11. Many of the apps that come with Windows 11, such as Paint, have appearing in various versions of Windows for decades now, so many of them are well overdue a facelift, while also getting added features to make them more useful.

Task Manager is one such tool. It’s been a staple of Windows releases since Windows NT 4.0 back in 1996, and it’s one of the most useful tools included in the operating system. When you press Ctrl + Shift + Esc, Task Manager will appear and show all the apps, services and processes that are currently running on your PC.

If your PC is running slowly, checking Task Manager is a good way to see if there’s a particular app that’s causing issues. Also, if an app crashes and becomes unresponsive, opening up Task Manager allows you to close it.

It’s packed with handy features, many which haven’t changed in years, and while Microsoft’s moves to make it fit in more with Windows 11’s overall look is to be welcomed, we’d also urge caution. When tweaking such a useful legacy app, Microsoft needs to be careful not to drop handy features or simply the app too much – as it could frustrate users who have come to depend on Task Manager.

Microsoft does need to ensure that the look and feel of Windows 11 remains consistent over both new apps and older ones as well, but it also needs to make sure that doesn’t come at the cost of usability.

Hopefully, we’ll get a clearer idea of what Microsoft is planning to do with Task manager in Windows 11 in upcoming Insider builds.

Matt Hanson
Managing Editor, Core Tech

Matt is TechRadar's Managing Editor for Core Tech, looking after computing and mobile technology. Having written for a number of publications such as PC Plus, PC Format, T3 and Linux Format, there's no aspect of technology that Matt isn't passionate about, especially computing and PC gaming. Ever since he got an Amiga A500+ for Christmas in 1991, he's loved using (and playing on) computers, and will talk endlessly about how The Secret of Monkey Island is the best game ever made.