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
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.