Build 2022: Microsoft Opens Windows 11 Widgets to Third-party Developers

Posted on May 24, 2022 by Laurent Giret in Windows, Windows 11 with 10 Comments

Microsoft announced at its Build 2022 conference this morning that it’s opening the Windows 11 Widgets menu to third-party developers. This should bring more diversity to the Widgets menu, which currently only surfaces content coming from the Microsoft Start news portal.

“We’re energized by the customer feedback on Widgets to date, people are enjoying the quick access to content most important to them in a way that is seamless without breaking their flow. Beginning later this year you’ll be able to start building Widgets as companion experiences for your Win32 and PWA apps on Windows 11, powered by the Adaptive Cards platform, said Panos Panay, EVP and Chief Product Officer, Windows and Devices.

By leveraging Microsoft’s Adaptive Cards platform, developers will be able to use a flexible canvas to create actionable snippets of content that can include text, graphics, and buttons. Apps like Microsoft Teams or Outlook already use Adaptive Cards, and so did the now-discontinued Timeline feature on Windows 10.

Despite Panay’s enthusiasm about the Windows 11 Widgets Menu, the way these widgets currently work leaves a lot to be desired. The fact that current widgets ignore your default browser to open all content in Microsoft Edge is pretty questionable, and these widgets are also far less flexible than the Vista/Windows 7 widgets users could put anywhere on their screen.

It’s still unclear how third-party widgets will really work, but the “companion experiences” Panay mentioned suggest that they could serve as a new sort of Live Tiles for Win32 apps and PWAs. Whether this is something developers will really embrace is another story.

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Comments (10)

10 responses to “Build 2022: Microsoft Opens Windows 11 Widgets to Third-party Developers”

  1. Bart

    Pls tell me Edge will get a History widget.


    Microsoft should call it....Timeline?

  2. SherlockHolmes

    I deactivated Widgets in group policies :-)

  3. rmlounsbury

    At least 3rd party apps/services can be added to the widget pane now. Until Microsoft allows widgets to be placed on the desktop ala Android style widgets they won't serve much purpose for me.

    • rob_segal

      I hope they pick one place, the widgets pane or the desktop. Not both. Not everywhere and anywhere. Just one consistent place.

  4. sadsteve

    Eh, about the only widget I might like would be a date and time widget. In general I turn off things like widgets that clutter my desktop.

  5. PhilipVasta

    Will they let us, I don't know, turn off the tabloid news feed?

  6. SvenJ

    "which currently only surfaces content coming from the Microsoft Start news portal." That's not entirely accurate. There are ToDo, Outlook, Photos, Weather, widgets. Would be nice if those linked to their associated apps, rather than a web instance of them. I imagine that is what third party widgets will do. Maybe MS will re-write some of theirs to do the same. I'd much rather clicking the Weather widget open the Weather app than open Edge. I expect though, MS will not highlight their own technology to provide an example to others, thus dissuading others from using it as well. See UWP.