A surprise to be sure, but a welcome one! Boy oh boy, if you thought widgets would never be a part of Windows, then think again. Because Windows 11 has room for those, and then some.
The last time widgets were seen on a Microsoft OS was in Windows 7, which was the last operating system that came with support for these little applets that were called Gadgets. The feature was dropped for security reasons, and Redmond has stuck with a simplified desktop going forward.
Of course, people still found a way to add these back into the OS.
Third-party developers also stepped up releasing their own gadget packs and even programs that helped with adding small widgets to the Windows desktop.
Then one fine morning, we found out that Microsoft has developed something known as News & Interests, a feature for the desktop that added what can be called a news feed to the Start Menu. It rested in the Taskbar, and the information was automatically updated.
Now, the company is ready to take things to a whole another level.
Tucked between the Task View and File Explorer buttons on the Taskbar, sits the Widgets option:
As you can see, this is just News & Interests in the leaked Windows 11 build for now.
Buzz among the bees is that Microsoft is planning to open up this feature to developers, and allowing users to customize the widgets as per their liking. Initially, the upcoming OS will only support first-party widgets, with third-party support rolling out later.
Makes sense opening it up to other developers, otherwise why give it a dedicated area in the UI and a special Taskbar button?
Technically speaking, widgets are already part of Windows via the Xbox Game Bar feature. In fact, a handful of developers have even coded their own custom solution target towards gamers. It appears that Microsoft is now simply ready to take the game up a notch, and bring widgets to everyone.
An implementation like Game Bar surely holds promise here.