Do you remember the desktop gadgets that came with Windows 7 and Vista? If you like having the news, weather, clock and other third-party gadgets on your desktop, we’ve got some good news for you: Windows 11 will support third-party gadgets in the future, possibly in 2022.
Gadgets were first introduced with Windows Vista and have been discontinued in 2012 for several reasons, but it seems Microsoft hasn’t given up on the idea yet.
With Windows 8, Microsoft introduced live tiles on the Start screen, and support for desktop gadgets was completely removed from the desktop in favor of a clean experience and better security.
With Windows 11, Microsoft is removing live tiles for static icons and wants to bring back support for gadgets to improve the desktop experience. The build leaked to the web includes support for a new feature called “Windows Widgets”, similar to the Windows Vista gadget.
In Windows 11, the “widgets” icon will be placed in the taskbar next to the Start menu and the Windows Search icon by default. When you click the widget, it shows the current weather for your area and curated news, as well as the latest news on traffic conditions, stocks and more.
Currently, Windows widgets in the leaked build are a redesigned version of “News and Interests”, which was launched for Windows 10 with June 2021 updates. As you can see in the screenshot above, the layout of Windows widgets currently contains the time and squares (tiles) with specific information.
In a way, it’s similar to the Microsoft Launcher feed on Android, which also lets you check the news, weather, or traffic on the home screen.
Support for third-party widgets on Windows 11
Microsoft is apparently considering support for third-party widgets that allow users to customize their desktop with their own widgets.
It’s worth noting that third-party API support isn’t 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 is likely that these third party widgets will be offered through Windows Store where a new category for “widgets” will be created. At this point, we don’t know if Microsoft Edge’s WebView2, which currently powers the News and Interests feed, will be a requirement for all widgets.
In theory, this seems like a good idea and an addition that some people will find useful, especially if you want to see live tiles on your desktop. Although if you think it clutters your desktop or taskbar, Windows 11 allows you to disable widget support by right-clicking on the icon.