One of the new features in Windows 11 is its Widgets panel or
board which is essentially a reboot of News & Interests from
Windows 10. While Windows 10’s News & Interests only delivers
news updates, the Widgets board can show interactive content
from apps like Microsoft Store, Calendar, etc.
However, Windows 11 Widgets panel is relatively limited as it
only supports native apps developed by Microsoft. It can only
show weather, sports, news, and updates from select apps, such
as Microsoft To Do, Photos, Calendar, and more. During Build
2022, Microsoft confirmed that a vast library of widgets could
become available later this year.
As per Microsoft documentation, Widgets are powered by Adaptive
Cards which are written in JSON and allow apps or services to
openly exchange data. Using Adaptive Cards, Microsoft is able
to transform JSON into native UI that automatically adapts to a
specific app’s container/window.
It helps design and integrate lightweight UI for all major
platforms and frameworks. The company says Adaptive Cards-based
Widgets can act as a great companion experience for Win32 and
PWA apps on Windows 11.
Adaptive Cards isn’t a new technology and Microsoft has been
using it in Windows Timeline, Teams, Cortana, Outlook, and
more. We don’t know how exactly developers will be able to
integrate their apps with Widgets, but a document has confirmed
that widgets will only have a minimal impact on performance.
Microsoft noted that these Adaptive Cards-based third-party
widgets will always use “low memory and CPU”, and their
adaptive interface will automatically style them to match the
host/form factor experience.
Later this year, Microsoft will let developers publish widgets
through the Windows Store and the process of publishing widgets
into the store would be the same as submitting a normal app.
New features coming to Widgets panel: Full screen mode and more
Earlier this year, Microsoft also announced a few new minor
additions for the Widgets panel.
At the moment, Widgets open from the left side of the screen.
This could change soon as Microsoft is working on a
new optional feature to open the Widgets panel in full-screen
mode. When in full screen, widgets will cover the entire
desktop and take up the full screen.
This means users can access more widgets and news items from
MSN at once, and it’s also more user-friendly for tablets.
Apparently, the Widgets panel is getting another feature that
will allow the widgets board to display updates related to both
work and personal accounts.
Currently, the Widgets panel shows updates based on the account
you’re using. In a future update, Windows 11 will display items
from both accounts, with business or school-related items
appearing on the left and personal on the right.