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Microsoft gives tablets some love in latest Windows 11 build

Not quite touch-first, but a bit more fondle-friendly

Another test build of Windows 11 has emerged, this time with improvements aimed at tablet users.

It's been a while since Microsoft (or its OEMs) had a crack at a dedicated tablet, and we doubt there are many Surface Pros out there without a keyboard either attached or within reaching distance. However, with build 22563, Microsoft said "we're introducing a new taskbar state that's specifically designed to make you feel more confident and comfortable using your device as a tablet."

It doesn't look like a return to touch-first world of Window 8. Instead the taskbar now has two states for those with the right hardware (laptops and desktops need not apply) – collapsed and expanded.

Toggled by swiping up and down from the bottom of the screen, collapsed tucks the bar out of the way, while expanded makes it easier to jab with fingers.

The build, which supports ARM64 devices this time around, also includes more "dynamic content" for Widgets. "With a dynamic feed there's less of a burden on you to curate the canvas on your own," said Microsoft. Alternatively you can stick with your own custom design or just ignore them.

Other bits and pieces comprise a new group policy to allow IT administrators in education to turn off Windows Update notifications (although the nagging will resume if user action is needed and the device reaches the deadline). With a hopeful tone, Microsoft suggested devices might automatically update overnight, when students weren't present.

Searching from Quick Access now includes OneDrive, Downloads, and any other indexed location, and there are 37 new emoji characters to play with. Fixes include dealing with slow logins with a large temp folder and "a few issues impacting explorer.exe reliability."

Microsoft has also dealt with some cosmetic issues. One fix means the top border line of the taskbar now goes all the way across instead of stopping at the system tray. Sadly, it only applies if you're one of the lucky ones able to enable the tablet-optimised taskbar.

As ever, there is no guarantee that what is present in this Dev Channel build will ever make it to the mainstream, and not all Windows Insiders with the right hardware will have access straightaway.

However, after a distinct reverse ferret following the Windows 8 fiasco, the change could hint at a possible fondleslab future for at least some Windows users. ®

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