Windows XP and Windows Vista both supported adding “gadgets” to the desktop, like a clock or calendar. It looks like that functionality might make a return for Windows 11.
Microsoft started rolling out Windows 11 Insider Preview Build 25120 to testers in the Dev Channel, which includes an interesting new feature: the ability to add interactive widgets to the desktop. The company said in a blog post, “Windows Insiders who use the Dev Channel may get to try out new ideas, longer lead features, and experiences that are intended to help validate concepts. Starting with this preview build, some Insiders will see one of these conceptual features as we begin to explore exposing lightweight interactive content on the Windows desktop.”
The only desktop widget available for testing for now is a web search bar, similar to the Google Search bar available on most Android devices. predictably, the search always opens results in Microsoft Edge, even if your default browser is set to something else. Microsoft Classics.
Windows 11 already has widgets, but they’re only accessible from a special panel accessible from the taskbar — you can’t keep them on the desktop, taskbar, or anywhere else so they’re always visible. Microsoft also doesn’t allow widgets created by third-party developers. Meanwhile, Android has offered robust widget support for over a decade, and Apple brought them to the iPhone and iPad with iOS 14. Widgets are accessible on Mac through the Notification Center, and many Linux distributions have some version of the feature.
Microsoft has also experimented with interactive desktop widgets in the past. Windows Vista introduced Desktop Gadgets, but they were removed in Windows 8 because they were a security risk. Many third-party widget services and frameworks have also been available over the years, like Google Gadgets.
It’s not clear when (or if) this functionality will roll out to everyone using Windows 11. Microsoft said in the blog post that this is just an experiment for now, and the company will listen to feedback for future changes.
Source: Windows Blog