Microsoft tests Windows VPN notification, taskbar search updates

Microsoft continues tweaking the search experience on the Windows Taskbar. Is a search button, box or no icon better?
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer
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Microsoft is revisiting how search functions in the Windows 11 taskbar, while users could also soon get a small shield icon on their taskbar's system tray to indicate when a PC is connected to a VPN. 

In the Windows 11 build 25252 that has been released to the Dev Channel, Microsoft is testing different ways to display the search in the taskbar. One example draws directly on Windows 10 and offers a search box that users can type into, with results displayed in a separate window. The other is a pill-shaped 'search button' that opens a window where text can be typed in. There's also the smaller search icon that opens a new window for search, and a 'hide' option where there is no box or icon in the taskbar and users would press the Windows icon to open the Start page, which features a search box at the top.

Image: Microsoft

Microsoft is looking for feedback on how its displaying search in the taskbar. Testers can do so in the Feedback Hub. 

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This build includes a new VPN status icon, a small shield icon, which is overlayed on the active network connection icon. It's meant to offer users a glanceable icon of the VPN status, which could be helpful in the event the VPN connection to either a work or personal VPN app has dropped out. 

Not all features shown in the Dev Channel will make it to the Beta channel or mainstream versions of Windows 11.

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Microsoft has rolled out fixes in this build to address various glitches. Two new known issues are that Widgets may appear missing for some Windows Insiders, causing explorer.exe to crash in a loop after upgrading. Users can install Widgets if it is missing. Alternatively, users can roll back the build. 

Also, there is an issue in Build 25247+ causing some Insiders to not be able to view certain secondary drives, including possibly other PCI devices. Microsoft says it is working on a fix. 

Microsoft has also rolled out Windows 11 Insider Preview Build 22621.1020 and Build 22623.1020 (KB5020035) to the Beta Channel.

Build 22623.1020 includes new features rolling out, while build 22621.1020 has new features off by default.

There are fixes available for both builds. Microsoft has combined Windows Spotlight with Themes on the Personalization page. It also provides users the full amount of storage capacity on all OneDrive subscriptions and now displays the total storage on the Accounts page in the Settings app. 

These builds also include OneDrive storage alerts for when users are near to their storage limit. These alerts appear on the Systems page in the Settings app.

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