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Windows 10 taskbar is getting a drastic makeover

Windows 10 taskbar
(Image credit: Microsoft)

The Windows taskbar is something of an institution, and it's remained largely unchanged over the years, at least in terms of any groundbreaking tweaks. The taskbar’s there when you need it, with all your helpful tools and programs a click away. 

And it’s gaining new tools, according to a post in Microsoft’s Windows blog. The company says that Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 21286 will add news and weather widgets to the Windows 10 taskbar that will include both news and weather widgets. 

With the addition of these two widgets, you'll be able to watch news, weather, and stock updates right from the taskbar instead of opening your Start menu or heading elsewhere. 

The rollout will bring a miniature collection of content that pops up on the screen to the taskbar. The new feature relies on Microsoft News, which collects more than 4,500 sources to offer a variety of news feeds that you can curate to your liking. 

Windows 10 taskbar

(Image credit: Microsoft)

There is a catch, though. You'll have to keep the Microsoft Edge browser installed on your computer, as it's meant to work in tandem with the new taskbar update since links will automatically open in Edge. It's unclear if you'll be able to change that behavior, but anything you click on will open in that browser via reading view. 

If you're not interested in using your taskbar like a miniature RSS feed, you can disable the feature. It appears to be just another way for you to interact with content without going out of your way to open apps or hitting up the internet for what you might want to see for the day. Microsoft says there won't be any ads, either.

Last year, the Windows 10 Start menu had something of a drastic redesign. It was meant to be more nuanced and "beautiful," according to Windows 10 Insider Program's Brandon LeBlanc. It came packing redesigned icons for built-in apps such as Mail, Calendar, and Calculator. As a result, the Start menu was more streamlined, with some of the deep and bright blocks of color removed. 

At the time, the team had teased testing a "more personalized" taskbar, which was meant to give users a "cleaner, more personalized, out-of-box experience to give you the content you want and less clutter." 

The new Windows 10 taskbar is available to certain testers today who are part of the Windows Insider developer channel. Its larger rollout will include the US, Canada, UK, Australia, and India initially later this year. 

Brittany Vincent has been covering video games and tech for over 13 years for publications including Tom's Guide, MTV, Rolling Stone, CNN, Popular Science, Playboy, IGN, GamesRadar, Polygon, Kotaku, Maxim, and more. She's also appeared as a panelist at video game conventions like PAX East and PAX West and has coordinated social media for companies like CNET. When she's not writing or gaming, she's looking for the next great visual novel in the vein of Saya no Uta. You can follow her on Twitter @MolotovCupcake.