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Microsoft starts testing new Windows 11 taskbar UI changes

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More UI experiments for Windows testers

Photo by Becca Farsace / The Verge

Microsoft is experimenting with new UI changes to the Windows 11 taskbar. The software giant is testing out bringing back the familiar search bar from Windows 10, alongside notification badges for the Widgets section in Windows 11.

Windows 11 currently ships with a search button on the taskbar, which can be disabled and only shows the search logo. Microsoft is now testing three different search taskbar visual changes. One experiment is the usual search icon, while two others include a small or large search bar in the taskbar. Microsoft is looking for feedback on the changes before they’re rolled out more broadly, and the tests are part of Microsoft’s new experimental Windows 11 features, which does mean they might not ship.

The search taskbar UI changes.
Image: Microsoft
Notification badges for Widgets.
Image: Microsoft

After bringing back the Weather widget to the taskbar in Windows 11 recently, Microsoft is now testing adding notification badges. The notifications are designed for content like breaking news and look similar to the badges you’d find in the Action Center on the right-hand side of the taskbar.

“When you open the Widgets board, a banner will appear at the top of the board providing more information on what triggered the notification badge,” explains Windows Insider chief Amanda Langowski. It’s not explicitly clear, but I’d expect these notifications can be disabled alongside being able to regular ability to remove the Widgets taskbar button.

Alongside the UI tests, Windows Insiders in the Dev Channel will also be able to start testing a new Camera app for Windows 11. The design has been updated to match Windows 11, and it now includes QR and barcode scanning support. A new Media Player update is also available for testing, with the ability to rip CDs into AAC, WMA, FLAC, and ALAC files.

The new camera UI for Windows 11.
Image: Microsoft