Windows 11 is over a year and a half old, but if you look at some of the Microsoft Build 2023, you might have noticed some familiar announcements. For example, the company is adding the ability to show individual app windows in the taskbar, along with the ability to show labels for each window, so you can easily identify and switch to the window you want with a single click.
Well, in earlier versions of Windows, this option was always there, and prior to Windows 7, it was actually the default behavior of the taskbar. And if you take a closer look at Windows 11, there are actually quite a few features that Microsoft has added since it first launched that it actually brought over from previous versions of Windows. They were either missing or less visible in Windows 11. Let’s look at some other examples.
SCROLL XDA VIDEO OF THE DAY TO NEXT CONTENT 1 Drag and drop taskbar
You’re probably used to dragging items between apps on the taskbar if you’ve ever used Windows prior to Windows 11. It’s a classic and seemingly obvious feature to have in place at this point, but when Windows 11 launched with its all-new taskbar, it was missing. You couldn’t drag and drop files from one app to another unless both apps were visible on the screen, which became very cumbersome.
Luckily, Microsoft listened to the feedback and eventually added this again with Windows 11 version 22H2.
2 Quick access to Task Manager
The simplification of the taskbar in Windows 11 came with further trade-offs, and that really bothered me personally. The context menu that appears when you right-click the taskbar has been recreated and removed most of the options from previous versions, including the task manager button. This made it a lot more awkward to quickly open the task manager, but again thankfully that was fixed with the first moment update. Most of the previous options are still not available, but this was easily one of the most requested features.
3 seconds in the taskbar clock
This is a bit of a scam, but we consider it a different way of restoring removed features. Previously in Windows 10, you could click the clock on the taskbar to view your calendar, along with a clock showing the current time to the second. I personally didn’t think it would be overlooked, but it was one of the first complaints I heard from others.
It’s been a long time coming, but Microsoft is also bringing it back with the Moment 3 update for Windows 11.
It wasn’t just the taskbar that suffered as Microsoft tweaked the overall design for Windows 11. The start menu has received a major overhaul and while it looks good, it has lost some functionality. In Windows 10, you could create folders in the Start menu to house multiple Live Tiles for apps, but in Windows 11 there was no way to create app folders.
This is another feature I was upset about losing with this new version, but it’s something else that Microsoft fixed with Windows 11 version 22H2. Folders are back, with the ability to rename them and we even have a guide on how to use them.
5 File Explorer Features
Windows 11 also brought a new and updated File Explorer, including new context menus that were more visually appealing and clearer. However, to that end, Microsoft has removed many options from this menu and many of them have come back with more recent updates. For example, Windows 11 version 22H2 brought back the ability to install fonts, certificates, and INF files using the modern context menu instead of the old one.
Another feature that was missing in this new version was the preview of folder contents. Windows 11 first introduced new icons for folders, but it only had generic icons as if the folders were empty, while previous versions of Windows gave you a glimpse of what the folders contained. This was brought back with version 22H2.
Most recently, Microsoft brought back access keys in the modern context menu with the Moment 3 update. This allows you to access the options in the context menu using a key on your keyboard that is mapped to that option. This was still possible if you used the “Show more options” button to see the old menu, but it’s good that it’s brought back to the modern experience.
6 language access
This is another feature that won’t necessarily be brought back as it was never removed, but Microsoft is acting like it’s brand new. Voice Access is a new accessibility feature that lets you control your Windows 11 PC with your voice, and that sounds like a big step forward.
However, previous versions of Windows, and even Windows 11 itself, already had something called speech recognition that does many of the same things. It can open apps, switch between them, and click parts of the screen with the mouse if you give it the right instructions. Many of Voice Access’s features are the same as Windows Speech Recognition – it just has a new interface that looks more modern and new instructions to help you get used to it. Windows Speech Recognition is even still available in Windows 11 alongside Voice Access.
Some honorable mentions
While it can’t be said that these features have been brought back as they were never available to begin with, they still deserve credit as we know they have been worked on to some degree. One big thing are the tabs in File Explorer and Notepad, which grew out of Microsoft’s experiments with Sets in the Windows 10 era. Sets would have added tabs to all of your apps, but Microsoft ultimately decided that wasn’t the right solution and instead added tabs to apps where it made more sense, such as File Explorer and Notepad. Windows Terminal has them too, but it’s not unique to Windows 11.
Microsoft also wanted to support Android apps with Windows 10, including Windows 10 Mobile. It was considered the lifeline for Windows phones, but was ultimately scrapped — until Microsoft brought it back with Windows 11, leveraging work on the Windows subsystem for Linux.
As much that’s new Windows 11 has brought to the table, it’s also brought back a lot of the old since its debut, and I’d say that’s a good thing. Windows 11 felt fresh and exciting when it launched, and I think that’s worth some of what was lost in that initial release. And it’s good to see Microsoft listening to feedback to bring back the core features that people are missing in these older versions.