[Did You Know] Hidden Secret “DeskBar Options” Tab in Windows 98 Taskbar Properties

Time to refresh your memories! Let's ask a simple question. Did you know about a hidden secret tab "DeskBar Options" which was present in Windows 98 SE (Second Edition) Taskbar Properties? Most probably your answer would be NO.

There are very few people who know about this interesting fact. You can consider it as an easter egg or a bug but it was something else actually.

Recently we talked about this interesting stuff at our official Facebook, Google Plus and Twitter pages and there were a few people who asked us to provide more details about this hidden option, that's why we decided to create a separate topic about it here on AskVG.

First some details about this hidden option:

Normally Windows 98 Taskbar Properties contained 2 tabs: Taskbar Options and Start Menu Programs. But if you press and hold "Ctrl" key while opening Taskbar Properties, you get a new hidden tab "DeskBar Options" in Taskbar Properties window as shown in following screenshot:


Unfortunately this tab was useless. Everything in the tab was grayed out. There were 3 buttons given in the tab: Add, Remove and Properties but all 3 buttons were disabled. A big list area was also present but it didn't contain anything inside it. So basically the whole "DeskBar Options" tab worked like a dummy tab. It was not functional at all.

Check out following video showing this secret "DeskBar Options" tab live in action:

Now some question might be coming in your mind such as why was this extra tab put in Taskbar Properties? What was the use of this tab? Why was everything in the tab grayed out and not functional? Was there any way to make the tab functional? etc, etc...

Don't worry! Here are the answers to all these questions:

"DeskBar" was an interesting feature which was planned by Microsoft to introduce in Windows 98. With the help of this feature, Windows 98 users could download Desktop toolbars (Deskbars) from their favorite websites. These mini toolbars could update themselves automatically based on a predefined time interval and could provide latest information from the websites so that users didn't have to visit the websites in web browsers.

Microsoft implemented this feature in Windows 98 beta builds and thought that webmasters will develop such toolbars for their websites but webmasters didn't like this idea. This idea was going to harm both website owners as well as advertisers because if users were getting latest articles, news information right from their Desktop, why would they visit the actual websites? It could decrease both website pageviews and advertisements views.

Since the idea didn't work as planned, Microsoft decided to remove this feature from Windows 98 RTM version. They decided to hide the tab and that's why this tab was not functional because the necessary code to connect this tab functionality with Desktop toolbars was not present in Windows 98.

That's the mystery behind secret "DeskBar Options" tab present in Windows 98 Taskbar Properties.

What do you think about this idea? If Microsoft puts such an option in Windows 8.1 or future versions of Windows, would you like to use it? Feel free to share your comments...

Also check out following similar hidden features of Windows:

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  • Amazing!!! I didn't know it. Please Microsoft put this feature in win 8.1 :D

  • If this feature is nowdays implemented, we would soon see desktops full of this toolbars, as IE also does! LOL

  • So basically, the DeskBar is the ancestor of widgets, Windows gadgets and Live Tiles that we use today?
    Time to grab my copy of Windows 98 for a trip down the memory lane!

  • Windows did get DeskBands later though.

  • Well, Deskbar is like kind of a concept of Widgets, which was introduce in Vista under the name of Gadgets and is replaced by Live Tiles in Windows 8. Live Tiles in Windows 8 do exactly what Deskbar was intended to: bring all the information online (and offline, too) that you need to your "home" screen (Ex: Weather, News, Facebook Updates...), in Windows 8.1 with IE 11, web developer can use HTML5 to make a pinned website tiled display information (Ex: with Windows 8.1 and modern IE 11 as default web browser, pinned a site (Neowin for example) to your start screen and it'll display 3 headlines).
    Microsoft has already built and been developing Deskbar since Vista (in Vista there was a "Feed Headlines" gadget), and now Windows 8.1 Live Tiles do everything that Deskbar was intended to.
    I didn't know that they have thought of widgets so early ;)

  • I have Windows 98 SE installed in my virtual machine and did as you described and it really do exist. All I can say is WOW after all these years and now we see this. Thanks VG.

    I don't know if you guys already know these two easter egg in Winrar...When you open Winrar and click on help "About Winrar" a window will open showing the version and other stuff...Now if you left click with your mouse on the book it will slowly drop down and bounce several times like a ball. The next one is if you left click with your mouse on the same about window i.e. the Winrar logo you'll see a little boat sailing on the extreme right of the logo, and waves going up and down. You may have to click on it one to three time to see the sail boat.

  • ^^ Haven't installed Winrar.Will try that.

  • Vishal you are truly a wizard. How you find these things out is beyond me.

  • The Secrets of Microsoft. Seems You are a rapid IT Hunter VG !.

  • I remember something similar concepts with windows codename longhorn :D

    It does have an deskbar too [combination taskbar and sidebar]

  • Hello VG!
    Actually when I was dusting the store room of my house, I found something interesting. That was my dad's 15 year old CPU!!! With Windows 98 SE installed. I connected it to my monitor and mouse and keyboard, and found it working. That time I came along this article, followed your instructions and found the DeskBar Options. And as you said it was of no use.
    After that I started exploring the PC and the specs I found were just damn weird. I won't even think about using a PC with 16MB Ram and 2GB HDD.
    I was just wondering how can a PC run on that specs. Can you please explain?

  • windows 95 only required you to have 4mb of ram 8 was recommended, back in the day your dad had a fast and powerful computer from what it sounds like. what processor does it have it 486 or 386dx?

  • looked up wrong os- you dad had the bare minimum to run 98.
    back in the day ram was insanely expensive , and 95-98 really only a fancy shell for dos for the most part. as for the hard drive that was large for back then 98 only need 300-400 mb of disk space. anyone remember drivespace 3.0 ? nothing like try to make some room, and watching all your files go poof now we are gone and computer won't start. those were indeed the good ol days for me. overclocking with a soldering iron and a pencil, far better than the vic-20 having to stay up for days programing in basic to a tape cartridge, you get done only to find there is a syntax error in line 35

  • @allsop1, I checked the system properties. It is showing Windows 98 SE. And I found it weird coz my dad bought his PC in 1998 and the Second Edition of Windows was launched in 1999.

  • @allsop1, I asked him just now. He said that he upgraded from Windows 95 to Windows 98 SE.
    And one more thing, even on minimum specs, Windows 98 SE is running damn fast on his PC.

  • @ Vidit Agrawal, Yes I do agree with you. Windows 98 can run just as fast with the minimum specs even an upgrade from windows 95 to 98 SE still runs fast.

    I used windows 3.1 back in the day and even worked on '95 to ''98 on down to the present and I still love win 98. I even played TR 2 and Quake on windows 98 back then.

    I still to this day have all those system working on my virtual machine i.e. from Dos 6.xx, windows 3.1, windows 95, windows 98, windows 2000 pro etc

  • I had my memories of using Windows 98 SE 7 years ago,since then,i haven't touched that.

  • Damn! I'll have to install Windows 98 again! :D

  • @ Mazkraven, HAHAHA, yes I'm with you, I know exactly how excited you feel. I suggest that you install it on a virtual machine though. That way you can always enjoy using it in when something new comes on the scene like what VG showed us.

    It have Virtual PC (free), Virtual Box (free), VMware Workstation, VMware Player (free) and Parallels. There are others but those I mentioned are the most popular.

    Lets not forget Windows ME (Millennium Edition) replacement for windows 98 for the infamous Y2K glitch...the two digit date and time, thinking it might carry you back to 1800 or 1900.

  • I remember trying that out years ago when I was using win98se.... I think I read aobut it in the Lockergnome help\readme .chm file that came with X-Setup app.

  • @James, can you tell me if '98 will run on today's advanced systems with lots of RAM and memory?

  • @ Vidit Agrawal, Nah it won't because the Mother Boards being made nowadays will only accept Windows Vista or higher. It may take XP but you might have to do some tweaking for it to work. Only if you have an older motherboard it may work.

    My recommendation to use Windows 98, use a virtual machine. Most of todays software will not even install on 98 and Internet explorer will not update itself later than 6.0.2 so you'd not even get a chance to browse the web.

    But then, who would want to go back there! For me since the development of windows I had always love XP but to date I've since moved on to Windows 7 and even using Windows 8 but until Microsoft do some major changes on Windows 8 I'll stick with Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit. Windows 7 for me is the most reliable and stable system ever developed by Microsoft. I've still to prove Windows 8. But this is me so don't take my word for it.

  • Windows 98 SE Hardware Requirements
    Personal computer with a 486DX 66 MHz or faster processor (Pentium central processing unit recommended)
    16 megabytes (MB) of memory (24 MB recommended)
    One 3.5-inch high-density floppy disk drive
    CD-ROM drive
    130 GB HDD Max but you have to partition the drives into three parts
    Video Graphics Array (VGA) or higher resolution (16-bit or 24-bit color SVGA recommended)

    Given the requirements for windows 98 SE. With modern system, windows 98 would not recognize the size of the hard drive, the different multi core processors and the amount of memory (Ram), even a new motherboard. Thats why it won't even install on a new system.

  • @James, As you said
    "I had always love XP but to date I've since moved on to Windows 7 and even using Windows 8 but until Microsoft do some major changes on Windows 8 I'll stick with Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit. Windows 7 for me is the most reliable and stable system ever developed by Microsoft"
    That's same with me. When I bought my PC 3 years ago, I got Windows XP installed. But since I moved to Windows 7, I've never looked to any other version of Windows. And I was asking about '98 coz I wanna dual boot it with '7. What the days they were. I stick to my dad's PC for the whole day. And now I rarely switch my CPU on and that short time is spent by me playing Grand Theft Auto. That's why I wanted to experience '98 once again. Thanks for explaining.

  • I spotted a typo!

    "...you press and hold "Ctrl" key while opening Taskbar Properties, you get a new hidden tab "DeksBar Options" in Taskbar Properties window..."

    It's not DeksBar Options but DeskBar Options. ;)

    and all these years of using Windows 98 SE, I discover it now...

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