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Microsoft Will Let Developers Make New Windows 11 Widgets Later This Year

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Windows 11 made several major changes in the operating system’s visual style and features, not all of which have been a huge hit. For example, a taskbar that cannot be resized or moved. One Windows 11 feature is now slated to get much better with the announcement of third-party support for widgets, reports The Verge

Microsoft revealed its widget plans at the Build conference this week, saying there will be a third-party API for widgets that can run alongside traditional win32 or modern PWA apps. Currently, the selection of Windows 11 widgets available in the slide-out panel is pretty limited. There’s MSN weather, OneDrive Photos, and a Microsoft Start news feed (that opens in Edge no matter what you’ve set as your default browser). Noticing a pattern? They’re all heavily focused on Microsoft’s apps and services, which if we’re being honest, are not as popular as many alternatives. 

At Build, Microsoft bigwig Panos Panay said that the company was “energized by the customer feedback on Widgets.” He went on to announce the “Adaptive Cards platform” that will enable developers to create new widgets for Windows 11. Details on how this system works are still scarce, but we are assured that developers will get access to the system later this year. 

All Windows 11 widgets are currently restricted to the slide-out panel, but Microsoft is experimenting with a desktop option. The latest Insider builds of Windows 11 include a search widget on the home screen. That’s probably not the most useful widget considering most people have browser windows open all the time, but we’ve seen all this before. 

The style might be a little dated, but Vista’s widgets were surprisingly useful.

In the Windows Vista era, Microsoft rolled out a platform for widgets, known as Desktop Gadgets. This feature supported third-party widgets, but very few developers showed interest. Given the inherent security issues, Microsoft opted to remove support for Desktop Gadgets in Windows 8. This is yet more evidence that software development, like time, is cyclical. 

Personally, I liked the option to have widgets floating on my desktop because I use multiple monitors, but those who have to use every inch of available space for windows might not find them as useful. Still, a “big tent” operating system like Windows should include the option. There are third-party options, of course, but the fewer software platforms you need to have running on your PC, the more secure it will be.

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