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.