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Don't like the new Windows 11 Start or Taskbar? Don't worry – Microsoft's got your back
Insiders, they don't like it. Bork the Taskbar, bork the Taskbar
Microsoft's efforts to shed as much glory as possible with its Windows 11 release have continued with the sudden breakage of the Start Menu and Taskbar for its happy band of Insiders.
The cock-up happened in the latest preview build of Windows 11, 22000.176 for Beta Channel users and build 22449 for those lucky enough to still be in the Dev Channel. The Beta Channel release is supposedly the more stable of the pair.
Affected Insiders found, according to Microsoft, "that Start and Taskbar were unresponsive and Settings and other areas of the OS wouldn't load." The result was a hurried update requiring those impacted to do a bit of Registry tinkering in order to get things back to normal.
Naturally, social media commentators were as supportive as one might expect. Screenshots of Microsoft's latest and greatest in distress were soon to be found across the web, showing Start Menu and Taskbar in various states of undress.
With barely a month to go until the launch of the operating system (assuming your hardware is up to the job in the eyes of the Windows team) it isn't a good look. One can't help but remember the arrival of the file-munching Windows 10 October 2018 Update which combined both the Windows team's legendarily terrible communication ability with an apparently slipshod approach to quality.
The latest update was otherwise a relatively uneventful affair, consisting of a small number of fixes and an update to the Microsoft Store for Insiders using the Beta Channel. Dev Channel Insiders got more toys, including a ditching of the ring of dots in the boot screen in favour of a progressive ring animation and a change to SMB compression behaviour to "always compress files regardless of size".
If your chip's not on the list, you're not getting in
"Uneventful" would have been good, considering the week the Windows Insider team has had defending Microsoft's decision to pull some Windows 11 Previews from its loyal band of testers.
The controversy kicked off as some Insiders were notified that their hardware did not meet the wunder-OS's requirements and were summarily booted from the Insider program (although they will still get Cumulative Updates up to the point of General Availability.)
Many users had expected the axe to fall at General Availability but, as the Dev Channel is now getting builds with versions of software that will only be out after Windows 11 is unleashed on the public in October, many have been ejected early.
Interestingly, virtual machines also appear to have been hit. We've been cheerfully running the Windows 11 Preview on an Apple M1 Mac Mini via Parallels Desktop 17, which should fall under section 5 (Virtual Machine) of Microsoft's June 2021 Minimum Hardware Requirements [PDF.]
"Windows 11 does not apply the hardware-compliance check for virtualized instances," the document says.
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- Start or Please Stop? Power users mourn features lost in Windows 11 'simplification'
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But if this was once the case, it is no longer so, it seems.
That document refers to checks made during set-up and upgrade, hinting that the Windows Insider program might be doing something a bit different when checking who can receive its preview builds.
We have asked Microsoft and Parallels for comment. The former has yet to respond. The latter directed us to the Hardware Requirements PDF and told us its engineers were working on an update "addressing Windows 11" to be released "soon." ®
Far be it from us to wonder if Microsoft should perhaps be trying to get more testing done on its OS rather than kicking out those who have loyally checked out its wares up until now. After all, it's not as if it is prone to borkage mere weeks before General Availability. Or sending out code that destroys user data. Oh, wait. ®