Later this year, Microsoft will begin inviting third-party developers to create their own widgets for use in Windows 11, Microsoft said at its Build 2022 developer conference.
“You’ll be able to start building Widgets as a companion experience for your Win32 apps and PWAs on Windows 11, powered by the Adaptive Cards platform,” said Windows and Devices product manager Panos Panay wrote in a blog post accompanying the program.
Widgets are part of Windows 11, although content is pulled from the same sources that Microsoft places on the Edge browser’s new tab page, the older News Bar, and the “News & Interests” feed as a part. of Windows 10. Today, Widgets are a collection of news, weather, stock prices, and photos pulled from your OneDrive cloud storage.
What do Widgets do? Not offer is any third-party content that Microsoft does not manage and license itself: no collections of Facebook posts, no notifications or conversations from Slack (or Teams), no WhatsApp messages, no RSS feeds, no new posts in Reddit, etc. However, it looks like that could change: if a third-party developer makes it available through a Win32 app or a PWA app, that content will show up in Widgets.
That opens the door to all sorts of third-party apps. Progressive Web Apps, as we explained earlier, are essentially a Web page (such as Outlook.com) that can be saved to the Start menu as a dedicated application. For example, if you open Outlook.com in Edge, you can use the ellipsis menu in the upper right corner, navigate to Applicationthen use the option to Outlook Setup (PWA) to install the application. (The new version of Outlook is designed to eliminate the need for the Outlook PWA, but you get the idea.)
Adaptive cards are simply “small pieces of the user interface” that the user interface can be adapted to its surroundings. If you’re interested, the short introduction on the Adaptive Cards website goes into more detail, although if you think about the weather widget that already exists in Widgets, you’re not far off. However, it remains unclear whether developers will be satisfied moving their content into Windows 11, rather than into their own pages where they can push ads and other monetized content.
Incidentally, these Widgets will have nothing to do with the free floating version of the Search bar that appeared in the recent Windows Insider preview. Instead, they will only appear in the Widgets panel which can be accessed through the left side of the Windows 11 taskbar. Nor do they reproduce the widgets that appear in Windows 7 and Windows Vista.
Right now, Widgets are a part of Windows 11 that you can dig through, browse for a second or two, then leave it again. However, if you can add third-party content to it, it can become a lot more engaging.