No matter how you work around this problem it's still going to be a bigger hassle than it should be. Why don't you add this request to the idea forum? With enough backers, Mendix might even end up implementing it in the core product!
The progress bar you could fix by open a small subform first and show the progress bar from then on.
Your option with the microflow timer widget doesn't show a progress bar :-( I have no option in the microflow timer widget to enable the progress bar.