On any modern version of Windows, Microsoft restricts the taskbar clock to hours and minutes. This is perfect for most users, but some people might want to display seconds in the taskbar of their operating system.
Windows 10’s lets you display seconds on the taskbar if you’re willing to use a registry hack to enable the hidden feature.
Unlike Windows 10, Windows 11 doesn’t support the optional registry key to display seconds on the taskbar. In a Feedback Hub post, Microsoft quietly explained that it is no longer possible to edit the Registry file to enable a clock with seconds. The company has removed the feature entirely and one of the reasons could be performance issues.
“Please note, at this time showing the seconds in the flyout is not supported, however your interest in this has been shared with the team for future consideration,” Microsoft noted in a Feedback Hub post.
Notably, this wasn’t the case in the ’90s. Early versions of the taskbar supported seconds, but the feature was made optional in the stable release as it resulted in performance issues for everyone. The performance impact was noticeable because the systems had only 4MB of RAM, but that’s no longer the as most systems now have more than 8GB of memory.
So why not bring back the taskbar clock with seconds support? The reason is still performance, according to a new post on Microsoft’s dev blog.
While system memory is no longer the main concern as all devices now have a lot more than 4MB of memory, the frequent updates required for displaying seconds on the taskbar can still make your device slower than usual.
Let’s consider a configuration with multi-user support, like Terminal servers. In servers with multi-user support, the system will try to update the taskbar clock once a second for each user that signs in have their own taskbar clock. This means the server would page a hundred stacks to paint a hundred taskbar clocks.
For this particular reason, server admins usually disable ‘caret blinking’ to reduce CPU usage as caret blinking across a hundred users will contribute to CPU usage. In fact, many server administrators disable the taskbar clock entirely to reduce the load on processing power.
The same theory also applies to systems that aren’t Terminal Servers. This includes your personal computer.
It’s a bad thing for performance since it basically means Windows will need to spend extra time on updating clocks and the “periodic activity” will prevent the CPU from entering a low-power state, thus affecting the overall performance.
“Any periodic activity with a rate faster than one minute incurs the scrutiny of the Windows performance team because periodic activity prevents the CPU from entering a low-power state,” Microsoft noted.
The company has been trying to reduce periodic activities and that’s why it is good for performance or battery backup if periodic times have a minimum period of one minute.
Of course, it goes without saying that it was not a good idea to disable the optional registry hack that enabled seconds on the taskbar. Based on the statement posted in Feedback Hub, it looks like the company is not planning to restore the registry hack, at least for now.
Microsoft is not planning to restore some missing taskbar features
During an AMA posted on YouTube, members of Windows Insiders and the developer team confirmed that restoring some taskbar features isn’t currently a priority.
Microsoft official confirmed that it won’t restore features like the movable taskbar because a small number of users have the taskbar on top, right or left. We’re not sure about the data cited by the official because one of the most requested features in Feedback Hub is a movable taskbar.
As per the Feedback Hub, a movable taskbar is one of the most requested features with up to 6,000 upvotes.
Microsoft didn’t say that it would never restore missing features in the OS, but features like movable taskbar aren’t a priority as the company is focusing on capabilities like drag and drop, tablet experience, etc.