Windows 11 could mark the return of third-party desktop widgets

Windows 11 widgets

Do you remember the desktop gadgets that came with Windows 7
and Vista? If you enjoy having the news, weather, clock and
other third-party gadgets on the desktop, we’ve good news for
you: Windows 11 will enable support for third-party gadgets in
future, possibly in 2022.

Gadgets were first introduced with Windows Vista and dropped in
2012 because of multiple reasons, but it appears that Microsoft
hasn’t given up on the idea yet.

With Windows 8, Microsoft introduced live tiles on the Start
screen and desktop gadgets support was completely removed from
the desktop in favour of a clean experience and better
security.

With Windows 11, Microsoft is ditching live tiles for static
icons and the company is looking to bring back gadgets support
to improve the desktop experience. The build that got leaked to
the web enables support for a new feature called “Windows
Widgets”, which are similar to Windows Vista gadget.

In Windows 11, the “widgets” icon will nestle in the taskbar
next to the Start Menu and Windows Search icon by default. If
you click on the widget, it will display the current weather
for your area and curated news stories, and the latest on
traffic conditions, stocks and more.

Windows widgets

Currently, Windows widgets in the leaked build is a redesigned
version of “News and Interests”, which was launched for Windows
10 with June 2021 updates. As you can see in the above
screenshot, Windows widgets layout currently features the time
and squares (tiles) with specific information.

In a way, it is similar to the Microsoft Launcher feed on
Android, which also lets you check the news, the weather, or
traffic on the home screen.

Third-party widgets support on Windows 11

Microsoft is apparently considering support for
third-party widgets that will allow users to customize their
desktop with their own widgets.

It’s worth noting that third-party API support is not available
in the leaked build, but it will be enabled later this year or
next year.

The broader idea is that when you install your own
widgets/gadgets, you can quickly access that feature/tool
without having to open apps manually.

It’s likely that these third-party widgets will be offered via
Windows Store where a new category for “widgets” will be
created. At the moment, we don’t know if Microsoft Edge’s
WebView2, which currently powers the News and Interests feed,
is going to be a requirement for all widgets.

In theory, this seems like a good idea and an addition that
some folks will find useful, especially if you wanted to see
live tiles on your desktop. Although if you feel that it’ll
clutter your desktop or taskbar, Windows 11 lets you turn off
the widget support by right-clicking on the icon.

In addition to widgets support,
Windows 11 is also rumoured to ship with a redesigned volume
flyout, improved
multi-monitor features, new controls for touchscreen
gestures and more.

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