Microsoft is testing Windows 11 for a new tablet mode to release in the next update.
Microsoft removed many of the tablet features from Windows with the release of Windows 11, but the company has shown interest in bringing some of them back. There’s now a new, tablet-friendly taskbar being tested ahead of the big 22H2 update.
Microsoft redesigned almost every aspect of Windows to work better on tablets for the release of Windows 8, which was part of the reason the update was so unpopular. Tablet optimization was toned down for Windows 8.1, and Windows 10 introduced a separate tablet mode that made some buttons larger and made the Start menu full-screen. Tablet mode was completely removed with the release of Windows 11, but some other tablet-related settings remain.
Windows 11 Insider Preview Build 25197 is available to Windows Insiders on the Dev Channel, introducing a new touch-optimized taskbar “designed to make you feel more confident and comfortable using your device as a tablet.” The updated design only appears on tablets and 2-in-1 PCs (like the Surface Pro or Lenovo Yoga 9i) when the keyboard is detached or folded back — it won’t be available on regular desktops or laptops.
The tablet taskbar collapses into a smaller bar that only contains your status icons, so you’re less likely to accidentally open an app. You can swipe up on the taskbar to open it again and restore it to its usual appearance. It can also be turned off completely from Settings > Personalization > Taskbar > Taskbar Behaviors.
If this sounds familiar, it might be because Microsoft started testing a tablet-friendly taskbar for Windows 11 back in February. However, this feature two months later, “as a result of feedback Windows Insiders» Removed from Insider versions. The company said it will reintroduce the feature after more work, but the updated version looks the same.
Windows 11 Insider Preview Build 25197 has a few other changes, including new floating effects for icons in the system tray, new animations in the Settings app, an Arm64-optimized Calculator build, and a number of bug fixes. It’s unclear whether the new tablet taskbar or other changes will arrive in time for Windows 11’s 22H2 update or later.