Windows 11 will soon allow third-party Widgets — this is big
According to a blog post(opens in new tab) by Microsoft executive Panos Panay, we’ve learned some important information. Windows 11’s Widgets were a high-profile addition that disappointed users right away.
Windows 11’s new Widgets menu, which appears when you hover your mouse pointer over the Widgets icon on the taskbar (or press Windows key + W) was criticised in our Windows 11 review for not offering more customization options. As a concept, it sounds like a terrific idea: an easy-to-access buffet of relevant information that can be personalised to your specific needs and summoned at the push of a button. Unfortunately, it’s a feature that doesn’t live up to the hype.
Windows 11 Widgets, on the other hand, are too limited to be of much use to most users. From sports scores and news headlines to market prices and the weather, there are currently 11 Widgets that you can activate (instead of 8 at launch). However, none of the Widgets are more convenient or quicker to use than a bookmark to a page with the same information.
Widgets have their own set of peculiar restrictions, as well. Windows 11 doesn’t enable you rapidly open an auto-updating feed of the newest stories published by websites I frequent, for example, which I really enjoyed the notion of being able to do. On the Widgets menu, you can only edit what stories appear by selecting “Sources (read: websites) and “Interests.” It shows you content based on your interests, and further customises the feed by approving or denying particular pieces. Windows 11 (or simply telling it to hide stories from a specific source).
The solution is simple once you figure it out, but it’s incredibly time consuming and inaccurate. Why not simply allow Windows 11 users to specify which websites they want to receive updates from, regardless of whether or not those websites are included in the official “Sources” list? What if we could observe the weather in numerous locations at once, exactly like I can by looking at my iPhone’s Weather application?
However, at least Microsoft appears to be paying attention, as third-party developers will soon be allowed to create their own Widgets, which will greatly enhance the Widgets menu in Windows 11. For apps like Audible, Spotify, Steam, and others, Microsoft is pushing developers to create Widgets to go along with their PWA (Progressive Web App) or Win 32 apps. This might make Windows 11 a more dynamic and fascinating operating system.
As if that weren’t bad enough, Microsoft isn’t done. Windows 11 will allow developers to incorporate cloud-based material from their apps into additional areas of Windows, including the File Explorer, according to a blog post from Microsoft.
This will allow Windows to offer your app and app content to customers in the proper context, delivering a smooth app installation and content discovery experience across devices, as explained in Panay’s blog post
When it comes to tools like File Explorer, this might either be good or terrible for Windows 11 users. Adverts in essential Windows apps (remember, we briefly saw Microsoft experimenting with ads in File Explorer earlier this year) would have a negative impact on the user experience of using Windows, for example.
If Microsoft is on schedule with these improvements, we’ll just have to wait and see. There’s good news for those of us who are eagerly anticipating the arrival of third-party Widgets in Windows 11: it appears like they will be available by the end of the year, if not sooner.