Microsoft is mulling a change for widgets in Windows 11 that could prove controversial

Microsoft has deployed a new preview build of Windows 11 to the Canary channel (which is the earliest testing outlet) and it does some work on the widgets panel that could be divisive.

This is build 26200 and there’s only a handful of changes applied here, two of which pertain to widgets.

The main thrust of innovation here is Microsoft’s new idea to allow developers to send notifications from their widgets to the taskbar button. In other words, when something happens with a widget that you might want to see, it’ll be waving at you from the taskbar to let you know.

Of course, not everyone will want their widget button in the taskbar to act in this way, and fortunately, Microsoft has included an option to turn off this behavior.

It’s also worth noting that this is a limited rollout to begin with, and indeed, most people won’t see these widget notifications yet – only those in the European Economic Area (EEA) are getting this feature in testing. Of course, that rollout could be made broader down the line, depending on feedback.

Another tweak related to this in build 26200 is that Microsoft is changing said widgets button to make the icons on the taskbar clearer.

Elsewhere on the taskbar, another icon is changing, this time the energy saver icon which resides in the system tray (on the far right). A few months back this was changed in testing to look different for desktop PCs plugged into a power socket, but now Microsoft has decided to revert it to the old look (a leaf icon).

Finally, Microsoft notes that there is an odd known issue with this preview build – and others, in the Dev and Beta channels, too – whereby Copilot is auto-launching itself after the PC is rebooted.

The software giant explains this is not related to the automatic launch on boot behavior that has been tested in preview builds before, the rollout of which has now stopped, apparently, since March (though we heard it has been restarted elsewhere).

This is a separate glitch, then, and Microsoft says it hopes to have a fix implemented soon. Meanwhile, greater visibility for Copilot is something the company is certainly driving forward with, to no one’s surprise.

Analysis: A livelier taskbar won’t be everyone’s preferred beverage

Are notifications for widgets intrusive? Well, yes they could certainly be regarded in that way, but as noted, as long as the option is provided to turn them off, it’s not too big a deal. If you want them, you can have them – if not, hit that off switch. Fair enough.

Many people likely won’t want their widgets effectively waving their hands at them from the taskbar, whenever something new pops up with a widget in the panel. This taskbar-based hand-waving appears to be a direction Microsoft is exploring in more depth, though. We’ve also recently seen an idea where the Copilot button runs an animation with its icon to draw your attention to the fact that the AI can help with something you’re doing on the desktop.

This only relates to copying text or image files currently – again, in testing – but in this case, there’s no way to turn it off.

All this could possibly point to a taskbar which is considerably livelier and more animated in the future, perhaps – and again, that’s not something everyone will appreciate.

If this is the path we’re going down for the taskbar as we head towards next-gen Windows (which might be Windows 12), hopefully Microsoft will also give Windows users enough granular control over the bar’s highlighting features and animations so they can be dialed back suitably.

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