For people who open a lot of apps, the Windows 11 taskbar is getting better.
The public could learn about new behaviour soon, later, or never.
We seem to be entering a time in Windows’ development when the operating system will get new features and changes several times a year. In order to do this, Microsoft keeps making changes to Windows 11’s features and user interface through its Insider Preview channels.
Now, users on the experimental Dev Channel are getting the most interesting new feature we’ve seen in a while: a changed version of the taskbar that handles app icon overflow much better when a user has too many apps open at once. When you click an ellipsis button on your taskbar, a new icon overflow menu appears. This lets you use any of the extra icons in the same way you would if they were on your taskbar.
This would be a big improvement over how overflow works now, where one icon’s worth of space is used to show the icon of the last app you used and the rest are locked out. Along with the new ellipsis icon, this icon will still be on the taskbar. Microsoft says that app icons in the overflow area will be able to show jump lists and other customizable shortcuts just like app icons in the taskbar.
The Nearby Sharing feature, which works like AirDrop and uses UDP and Bluetooth to find nearby devices on the same local network, has also been improved in this build. These changes only take effect when you’re connected to a “private” network and using Windows’ built-in file sharing window. They’re also available in the latest Beta channel builds.
The features that Microsoft tests in the Dev channel are the ones that are least likely to be available to all Windows users. We’ve already seen features like a desktop search bar come and go, and Microsoft is trying out at least two different ways to add a search field to the Windows 10 taskbar. Many of these ideas are also being A/B tested, which means that some Windows Insiders will see them and others won’t. If the behavior of the taskbar overflowing instead makes it into the Beta or Release Preview channels, we’ll know that it’s probably going to be released to the public.