Welcome to Windows 11. It is amusing how many complaints I have gotten from people about the new taskbar. Why amusing? Firstly, I do not work for Microsoft! While it may be fun to gripe about it to someone who once was a Microsoft contractor, I cannot do anything about it. Oh, you want me to complain to my friends who still do work there on your behalf? That is not going to happen.
There are some things about the new task bar that, to me, do not make sense. You will notice, for example, that the Start button is not flushed to the corner, but rather sits at the left side of a centred task bar that is sized arbitrarily depending on how many items you have opened and/or pinned.
I know a lot of people do not like this… and how dare Microsoft force this abhorrence upon us? Well first of all, get over yourself… Microsoft Windows has over a billion users, and I am sure that before they made this change, there were discussions and focus groups and whatever that determined that somebody (although not you) prefers it this way. I remember when the Windows 8 interface was introduced, people hated it… so much so, in fact, that in Windows 8.1 it was removed… kinda. What really happened is that due to the feedback from their customers, they came up with a compromise where the ‘Metro’ interface was confined to a newer Start Menu experience. Why do I bring this up? Because I don’t work for Microsoft… but if you complain to someone who does, maybe in a future release of Windows they will put it back where you like it…
…Or you could just do it yourself! Try this:
2. Click on Taskbar settings
3. Expand the section called Taskbar behaviors.
It is as simple as that. Microsoft is not forcing the centered/floating Start menu on you, they are just setting it as a default, and letting you change it back as you see fit.
Now, there are some functionalities of the Taskbar that are legitimately missing from Windows 11, but I am hearing far fewer complaints about those. For example, I always liked to be able to put my Taskbar on the side of my screen for some workloads. That does not seem to be an option anymore. I can hide it of course but moving the taskbar around is gone. Oh well.
There was a time when every Windows user sat at a desk with a keyboard and mouse. Those days are gone, and technology observers understand that the Windows interface is designed to run on desktops, laptops, wall-mounted large screen presentation systems with 80” displays, handheld devices with 4” displays, not to mention XBox and Hololens systems. Coming up with something that will work on all of these platforms cannot be easy. I can assure you that if you are complaining about it then you are not alone. With that said, the minor compromises that you might be asked to make on your display might mean a world of improvement to someone working on a different type of display, using touch interface only for example.
It cannot be easy keeping a billion people happy. Does Microsoft accomplish that with their interface? I don’t know… but they seem to be doing pretty well. I do not see a lot of people saying ‘You know what? This new Start Menu position is the last straw; where can I download Ubuntu?’
Change is seldom easy. For those of you complaining that the Start Menu has always been in the bottom left corner of your screen, I remember using Windows before the Start Menu, and trying to figure out why anyone thought we needed the stupid thing when it was introduced in Windows 95. The new interface is certainly a change – but for me the biggest change is not where the Start button is, rather what you see when you click it. The tiles that we have known as giant squares are now free-floating icons, and while they can be moved and pinned as with Windows 10, they cannot be resized. As with the Metro screen in Windows 8, I would not be surprised if, in a future release of Windows 11, we will see some major aesthetic upgrades to this environment.
I am not here to tell you that this is the way it is and get used to it. I suspect that unlike Windows 10, we will not see record trends of people upgrading to the new operating system. It will happen of course… over time. When Windows 10 was introduced, people saw vast improvements over Windows 8.1 (and Windows 7) that, along with the free update period that they offered, had people flocking to that new OS in record numbers. That is not going to be the case with Windows 11. Combine the fact that people do not completely love the aesthetic with the hardware limitations of the new OS and I suspect there are a lot of users who are going to let the clock run out on Windows 10, much like they did with Windows 7 (and before that with Windows XP).
With that said, before you complain that your new OS does not do something, make sure that it is not a simple (and free) fix that will take you 30 seconds to implement. Believe me, there are going to be a lot of legitimate complaints about any new OS that you won’t have to hang your hat on the petty stuff.