Hidden Windows 11 features uncovered, including tablet improvements and desktop stickers

Surface Pro 8 Studio Mode
Surface Pro 8 Studio Mode (Image credit: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Some Insider builds of Windows 11 contain disabled features that Microsoft hasn't commented on publicly.
  • A Windows enthusiast discovered options for stickers on the desktop, hiding the taskbar when using a PC as a tablet, and customizing a device for sustainability.
  • Microsoft explained in a recent blog post that it only publicly discusses enabled features.

Update 2:40 p.m. ET 2/8/2022: Albacore has revealed more changes, features, and updates, including a new system requirements reminder for Windows 11. Full details can be found at the bottom of this article.

Windows 11 has several hidden features that have recently been discovered. Windows enthusiast Albacore found options for stickers for desktop wallpapers, hiding the taskbar when using a device as a tablet, and improving a PC's sustainability when running Microsoft's OS. It also appears that Microsoft has plans to rename Focus Assist and to make it easier to prioritize notifications, based on screenshots shared by Albacore.

Of course, finding hidden features in Windows is nothing new. Insiders and experts have looked for disabled or half-finished bits within Microsoft's operating system for years. As always, uncovered features may not represent the form in which those options ship. Microsoft often tests things internally and changes its plans or refines its approach.

Stickers will persist across wallpapers, according to Albacore. This allows PC users to keep certain designs on their desktop while still being able to customize their background image. Stickers will reportedly be configurable through a new Sticker Editor app.

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While Windows 11 doesn't have a dedicated tablet mode, some tablet-friendly features may make their way to the OS. Albacore found a setting labeled "Automatically hide the taskbar when using your device as a tablet." Windows 10 had a similar option in its Tablet Mode.

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New sustainability options also seem like they're in the works, including an option to enable "Eco recommendation."

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Last week, Microsoft announced that it would begin testing more experimental features through the Dev Channel of Windows 11. The company also clarified that some Insiders have discovered disabled features in Windows 11 builds but that it will only discuss options that have been enabled.

Update: Albacore has shared more information, including that future Windows 11 builds will remind you if you don't meet system requirements. There is also the news that "an improved taskbar app list overflow experience is in the works."

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Stay tuned for more updates as they crop up.

Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com (opens in new tab).

  • I hope they fix the taskbar calendar. It does nothing. You can't add calendars to it. You can't see any of your appointments. You can't add any activities. Same with the widget calendar.
  • Yes, I do not understand this massive regression from Windows 10. I used to use the Taskbar Calendar all the time. I hope the old functionality returns. It is the one thing that has me bummed out with Win11.
  • This is probably the largest step back for my workflow as well. I used (use on my win 10 work machine) it multiple times a day.
    I don't get it.
  • Windows 11 UI front end (architecture) is completely new that's why it's missing right now. They are yet to bring the old features from W10.
  • Wait, what? I guess that means no more native calendar notifications in Windows 11? Why are they adding bloat to Edge, but removing useful features from the OS? What a silly and needless regression: I synced it with Google calendar and it was excellent for avoiding my phone. Every week, I think Microsoft could not care less about Windows, but then they surprise me with a newer, lower low.
  • "Wait, what? I guess that means no more native calendar notifications in Windows 11?" It's not changed from Windows 10. The Calendar app is unchanged and it's the App not Taskbar calendar that sends notifications on Windows 10 and Windows 11. "I synced it with Google calendar and it was excellent for avoiding my phone." Hasn't changed on Windows 11, works the same way. What's been removed is the Taskbar Calendar no longer integrates with the Calendar app which is a shame. It's now just a calendar view.
  • Thanks for the clarification bradavon.
  • I'm guessing they removed most of features and rebuilding everything from ground up starting fresh for windows
  • The Taskbar Calendar didn't do anything in Windows 10 too, it's only intended as a calendar view. Microsoft removed the calendar app integration though because that's now in the Calendar Widget instead, but it now has reduced functionality: You can add activates to the Widget Calendar, if and only if, you use the Outlook.com Calendar. It's not even compatible with Microsoft 365 :/. It's managed in the Calendar app, Outlook Desktop, Web app and will then show on the widget. Again it's only of use if you use Outlook.com. I removed it as my calendar is in Google Calendar. Why doesn't the Calendar Widget link to the Calendar app though, that does support 3rd party calendars? Why doesn't the Weather Widget link the Weather app? All that fury over opening in Edge could be avoided if it just integrated properly with the preinstall Windows 10 apps.
  • I love the idea of stickers. If the Taskbar hidden how do you access start menu unless there is full screen start menu detected for tablet use /I really hope so
  • I'd imagine that you could swipe up to see the taskbar like on many Android devices.
  • Same way it works in Windows 10' Tablet Mode, you swipe up.
  • What are stickers anyway? Those stickers you see in messaging apps. Why would you want them on your desktop? Don't get it.
  • Maybe stickers like the ones you see people put on laptops
  • I really wish we'd hear that they are looking into options to allow us to customize the look and layout of the Start Menu again too, like we could in Windows 10. This is the chief obstacle for me moving most of my computers to 11. Other than this, I prefer Windows 11 to 10, but the loss of the Start Menu is so destructive to my workflow, I can't put it on any of my main work computers.
  • By the way, I tried Start 11 to get back the Win 10 Start configurability -- concept is good, but it's slow compared to native Start and crashes constantly for me. Just hovering the mouse over parts of it cause the whole Windows Explorer module to crash and restart. Not really usable for me (I assume not everyone has these problems with it, so YMMV).
  • There are Insider build reviews/youtube videos showing it's coming. Not the same level as Windows 10 though. I find the argument hard to justify though, there are a multitude of ways to open apps still.
  • bradavon, for me, it's not about opening an app, it's finding it. I have nearly 200 apps installed, with 85 that I have pinned to my Start Menu. I don't know the names of many of them without prompting (i.e, I'll know it when I see/hear it). I rely on their placement on the menu to find them by grouping with similar apps (hardware controls, audio editing apps, image and video editing apps, communication apps, entertainment apps, etc.).
  • Start11 has been a life saver.
  • I like it conceptually and it does indeed restore what I most need: grouping my apps on the Start menu so I can find them quickly. The newest beta build (1.11) is also better and faster with less lag than the current release build (1.1). But there's still a lag compared to the native menu and it still crashes itself and Windows explorer whenever I perform a specific action (using Menu instead of Link for my main folders, browsing and then closing a folder tree). I suppose I could avoid using the Documents and other personal folder menu view (to be fair, that's not even an option on native Start), but the performance and touchiness are reminders that Start 11 is no substitute for a properly working native Start menu with at least the most critical features. For me, that absolutely requires the ability to position and group my Start Menu items.
  • Without out Start11 and Groupy, Windows 11 functionality is in the toilet. Why MS couldn't even do better than their Android Microsoft Launcher is beyond me!
  • Any progress on the tablet experience would be appreciated, but nothing yet has gotten me to want to upgrade to W11 yet. When some of the basic pulled features return and things settle down, I'll give it a shot.
  • I think Stickers on the desktop would be super cool. You could add a sticker for your favorite team, video game, band, etc. I can see them adding stickers to the Store like Themes are.
  • Hmm so instead of desktop widgets/tiles, they're giving stickers? lol
  • They need to bring back tablet mode
  • I hope they fix the issues that plague keyboard and mouse users as well.
    The os offers highly inconsistent features and is not even reliable anymore.
    So many freezes and crashes while doing basic tasks is not acceptable. When will they realize that it is supposed to be a keyboard mouse OS first?
    They wasted so many years trying to make it tablet centric and made everything worse and went full circle.
  • Hexagonal NFT stickers in the Microsoft store coming soon.
  • Microsoft fix the damn taskbar and start menu before you start adding 'stickers -- wtf?', bring back the functionality of Win10 at a minimum!!!