Windows 11 looks like it might soon support third-party widgets, as another hint that they might be imminent has surfaced thanks to an eagle-eyed Twitter user.
FireCube did some research and found that the widget manifest had been updated to reference download widgets – tiny apps that provide information at a glance, such as current weather or local traffic – from the Microsoft Store.
Widget manifest update shows more evidence of the ability to download third-party widgets and updates from the Microsoft Store.#Windows11 #FluentDesign pic.twitter.com/RgBYCq7sgZApril 13, 2022
The text informing users that they can “download new widgets and widget updates from the Microsoft Store” is another piece of evidence that the eventual plan is to let developers put their third-party widgets in the store and allow Windows 11 users to download whatever they want. want to.
The widgets panel would then be more useful, of course, with a greater range of options and a lot more scope for customization, compared to the current situation where users can only use Microsoft’s own widgets in the panel.
As pointed out by Windows Central, which spotted this, its own Zac Bowden – a prolific source of Microsoft leakers – has previously said that the widget panel should benefit from third-party efforts, as well as new features, and indeed that developers have already been informed of the operation of third-party widgets. Previous leaks have also indicated that third-party widgets are inbound.
Bowden made these comments in December 2021, four months ago now, and with this latest discovery of a nugget of evidence that Microsoft is preparing to implement third-party widgets, it seems a sufficiently firm possibility that they will debut at sometime in 2022.
Could it be with the big H2 2022 update (Sun Valley 2)? Maybe, but given that Microsoft has been adding stuff to Windows 11 on the go so far this year – as evidenced by the recent arrival of big interface changes outside of major feature updates – so maybe this hint appearing now is a sign that we might be installing third-party widgets into the OS sooner rather than later.
As for Microsoft’s other plans for the widget panel, during its recent Windows 11 reveal, we caught a glimpse of a full-screen panel; so that could also be in the pipeline (and it would provide more screen real estate to fill with third-party widgets).
The widget panel is, of course, a divisive feature, and some people really don’t like it, considering it a rather useless element of the user interface. Its usefulness is certainly limited in its current form, being limited to Microsoft services (like OneDrive, for example, and the likes of MSN weather).
Opening up the ability to add a huge range of new widgets from across the store would certainly help make the panel a more compelling feature for Windows 11 and significantly improve the perception of this part of the interface.