Microsoft explains why you can't move Windows 11 Taskbar

Windows 11 Taskbar Icons Surfacepro
Windows 11 Taskbar Icons Surfacepro (Image credit: Daniel Rubino / Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft's Tali Roth recently discussed why the Taskbar on Windows 11 cannot be moved to the side of the screen.
  • Roth argued that the feature is not highly requested and that adding it would take a huge amount of work.
  • Windows 10 supports a side Taskbar, but Microsoft rebuilt the Taskbar for Windows 11.

The Windows 11 Taskbar is staying put, at least for the time being. While many have complained about the inability to move the Taskbar on Microsoft's latest operating system, the company does not plan to give people the option to reposition it any time soon. Tali Roth, the head of product of Windows Core Experiences at Microsoft, recently discussed the Taskbar in an Ask Me Anything (AMA) session on YouTube.

Roth's defense of the Taskbar staying in place starts off with the argument that moving the UI element would be a large undertaking.

"When it comes to something like actually being able to move the taskbar to different locations on the screen, there's a number of challenges with that," said Roth (via Neowin). "When you think about having the taskbar on the right or the left, all of a sudden the reflow and the work that all of the apps have to do to be able to understand the environment is just huge."

She continued, citing the fact that the feature is not in high demand.

"And when you look at the data, while we know there is a set of people that love it that way and, like, really appreciate it, we also recognize that this set of users is really small compared to the set of other folks that are asking for other features. So, at the moment, we are continuing to focus on things that I hear more pain around."

The ability to be able to move the Taskbar is one of the most-requested features in the Feedback Hub, so Roth's claim is likely based on telemetry gathered by Microsoft or other data.

While Microsoft will look into adding the option, a side Taskbar appears unlikely. "It is one of those things that we are still continuing to look at, and we will keep looking to feedback, but at the moment, we do not have a plan or a set date for when we would, or if we should, actually build the side taskbar," explained Roth.

Previous versions of Windows support moving the Taskbar to the side of the screen, but Microsoft rebuilt the Taskbar for Windows 11. During that process, the company did not include certain features from older versions of Windows, including repositioning the Taskbar and dragging and dropping content.

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  • Yet another reason to stay on Windows 10. (And/or 7 for me). later
  • Your brother, Positive One, has no problem with it.
  • Positive One is lame. Negative One, in contrast, has a leather jacket.
  • I don't understand the issue. Apps don't rely on a specific resolution or aspect ratio so why should it matter whether the Task Bar trims the working area vertically or horizontally? I use a Surface Pro with two external 16:9 monitors and I move apps between them and they don't seem to have any issues, so I can't see why changing the working area of the same screen should be a problem.
  • It's kinda poorly worded which I try to understand what exactly they meant. Unless there is upcoming change on how the expected UI layout for apps that may affect or rely to having Taskbar at the bottom? I'm trying to figure out what exactly though. Maybe what they meant is desktop UI elements that may have to reflow how they place and behave. Not the app themselves.
  • I felt like the complexity they meant for moving the Taskbar may have to do with having to realign other UI elements like Noticiation and Quick Access for example and having to reconfigure the gesture for example and conflict with other elements. Example if you have Taskbar on the top and auto hide it, the potential conflict with Snap Bar on the top. So either they have ti restrict it or move Snap Bar somewhere or just let the two behaviours co exist. Another one is if you have let's say Taskbar on right, so the Widget Board will remain on the left but causes longer mouse travel which isn't good. Or also align it on the right but now there is 2 gestures to open Widget from the right together Quick Access and Notifications and Start Menu. Not to mention whatever is in their roadmap for future new UI changes or interactions that make it more complex to address in terms of UX design if the Taskbar is movable. Unless they go with compromise like if it's movable, then gestures and other behaviours are disabled or something restricted. There is a thing as well maybe Microsoft just wanting Windows from now one have standardised UX, making more predictable and each side of the display have distinct function and place. I think the only feature that have little conflict is allowing Taskbar icons to be ungrouped, since there is no reflow for desktop elements. Only conflict is Snap Group, but that is single issue to be addressed.
  • Good points, though kinda baffled they didn't include the feature from the get go as it would have ultimately meant less work. The route they've gone for is going to create headaches.
  • Well on that regard, not sure. Maybe lack of development time especially considering how Windows 11 were rushed to the public before holidays. Especially that they have replaced certain desktop elements like that Taskbar, those needs more time to reimplement features. Not sure how long exactly they have been working on Windows 11, but feels like not more than a year and we have to consider under-the-hood development needed to be done first. But at the end of the day, what user see is what will be judged, regardless of the reasoning behind this. It doesn't help if there is less transparent communication to some of the decision making that affected users.
  • The entire debacle reeks of shareprice chasing. If Microsoft continues rushing they will be running off a cliff straight into a shareprice crash. That's what happens when companies start following a bunch of bean counting lemmings.
  • And that is why they fail. MS doesn't do what they should have done in the first place (maintain functionality) while worrying about something some equally small number vocal people obsess over such as emojis.
  • "Popularity" does not correlate to "importance". So, every time I see a director using popularity as the only metrics, I think they are incompetent. They don't understand, a lot of popular features are "nice to have" not "must have". Things like taskbar position is a "must have" because for people who used it, it is a "red flag" when the feature is missing. Things "Nice to Have" is like News feed. It is not a "red flag" when missing.
  • Change is fine, I have no problem with it. If you're not used to moving your cursor to middle, hit the windows key, it brings up the start menu like it has for over 20 years.
  • "The ability to be able to move the Taskbar is one of the most-requested features in the Feedback Hub, so Roth's claim is likely based on telemetry gathered by Microsoft or other data." Let me fix that line. The ability to be able to move the Taskbar is one of the most-requested features in the Feedback Hub, so Roth's claim is likely based on telemetry designed to support MS's position.
  • Telemetry indicates nobody is using left/right sides for the taskbar in W11 so there is no reason to support it.
  • Haha good one. Personally I keep the Taskbar at the bottom but when I'll upgrade I better still be able to move the button left aligned like previous Windows versions or else I rollback... centered buttons is too much Mac looking and I hate Mac's interface...
  • @Martin Plamondon You can left align via settings.
  • Christ Almighty, this is, like, the one thing that I really wanted. Is it me? Am I the problem? We used to be friends, Microsoft.
  • Who's the freak asking to have a side taskbar Edit: Reading this thread, a lot. Luckily not enough.
  • Side task bar helps with workflow for some people. Especially on larger screens, screens in vertical orientation etc.
  • Not necessarily just the side, but I know a few people who like having it at the top (so the menu drops down) like in Ubuntu/other Linux distros.
  • Side taskbar does make sense when you think about what most people use their computers for. Horizontal real estate isn't exactly highly sought after, it's why people are moving towards 3:2 ratios, so gaining that little bit of extra vertical space for emails or Web browsing is quite useful. I personally hide the taskbar for this very reason.
  • I used to keep mine at top. I think Microsoft should at least keep that option as changes is not as drastic as left or right side. (I think some 3rd party does it, but it should be built in)
  • When will they finally allow you to see your program windows separately on the taskbar instead of combining everything in one icon? Extra clicks all day long.
  • I just like to have the option. Maybe my monitor/screen situation changes, which makes a taskbar change more important. I don't care much for "upgrading" an OS, only to have less functionality than the previous one. One step forward, two steps back?
  • This isn't the only issue I have with the task bar. I constantly run into issues we're I loose the right side(date and time) opening and closing full screen applications. I've pretty much trained myself to just use the window key as opposed to clicking on the icon and type the name of the app I am looking for. The whole interface is just darn clunky except the search feature. it's part of the reason I stay on my Linux boot more now than the windows boot. Cinnamon desktop environment is everything you would think would be on windows 11 that just isn't there.
  • Reminds me of that time Microsoft asked IE users if they wanted tabs and they said no, so MS let Firefox break their browser stronghold
  • r/Windows11 need to read this. The fact of the matter is that I have very rarely seen the taskbar on the top or on the side in videos and screenshots on the internet. I have NEVER, not even once, seen a taskbar anywhere besides the bottom, in the wild. Microsoft should more prioritize necessities rather than niceties, like making a better file manager and tackling the disjointed UI. I'd personally much rather see a consistent and comprehensive dark mode and design language rather than being able to move the taskbar to the top or sides.
  • TouchPad upward swipe would not pull up the taskbar? left/right swipes assigned to something else?
  • Obviously Roth has a EGO too big for his britches. Everyone I talk too HATES the (self) centered panel... hmm perhaps same is being discussed about Roth. He needs to quit looking down on everyone and actually listen. It really can't be, or SHOULDN'T be that difficult for such a super powered programmer as the "almighty" Roth.