MS Explains Windows 11 Taskbar Clock Missing Seconds

MS Explains Windows 11 Taskbar Clock Missing Seconds

OK, now we know. Windows tinkerers and tweakers have often wondered why the Taskbar clock in Windows 11 shows no seconds. Nor does it provide a registry tweak to display same. Raymond Chen lays things out in an Old New Thing blog post. Entitled “Now that computers have more than 4MB of memory, can we get seconds on the taskbar?” it provides the answer: “No.” Along the way, MS explains Windows 11 Taskbar clock missing seconds. In a word: “Performance.”

How MS Explains Windows 11 Taskbar Clock Missing Seconds

As you can see in the lead-in graphic — Windows 10 on the left, 11 on the right — the 10 clock happily displays a seconds count. 11 does not, nor does  it offer controls to display same. Why that difference?

Chen’s explanation is interesting and hinges on performance issues when many clocks are involved, all in need of ongoing updates. Here’s a lengthy, but informative, quote from the afore-linked blog post:

On multi-users systems, like Terminal Server servers, it’s not one taskbar clock that would update once a second. Rather, each user that signs in has their own taskbar clock, that would need to update every second. So once a second, a hundred stacks would get paged in so that a hundred taskbar clocks can repaint. This is generally not a great thing, since it basically means that the system is spending all of its CPU updating clocks.

This is the same reason why, on Terminal Server systems, caret blinking is typically disabled. Blinking a caret at 500ms across a hundred users turns into a lot of wasted CPU. Even updating a hundred clocks once a minute is too much for many systems, and most Terminal Server administrators just disable the taskbar clock entirely.

He goes onto say that even PCs that lack a Terminal Server role are still subject to performance constraints. Indeed, “periodic activity prevents the CPU from entering a low-power state.” He also adds “Updating the seconds in the taskbar clock is not essential to the user interface. . .”

Now we know. For those still inclined to stay on top of time at the second level (performance concerns aside) check out this ElevenForum thread: Taskbar Clock Replacement. ‘Nuff said!


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