Microsoft is testing Windows 11 desktop widgets with web search bar

Microsoft is adding an optional web search to the Windows 11 desktop in the latest Insider Preview build of the operating system. The company describes the feature as “lightweight interactive content” — the first, it says, of many such tools it’s considering adding to Windows 11 — but let’s call the thing what it really is: a widget.

Not everyone who has signed up for the latest version of Windows 11 preview will see the new search box, but everyone who likes it and doesn’t like it can disable the feature by right-clicking on the desktop, ‘Show more options’ and then toggling “Show search.”

If you are using the latest preview build, you will also need to restart your computer for the search box to appear.

Is it a useful feature? Probably for some, and probably not for others. It’s a web search rather than a system search (which you can add to the taskbar in Windows 10 and 11 for easy access), and can be useful if you need to quickly retrieve content after restarting your computer from scratch. But most people, I suspect, have at least one browser window open all the time and will probably find it easier to search from there than go to the desktop. (A cynic might notice that it’s also another way for Microsoft to direct users to Edge and Bing.)

In any case, it’s interesting to see how the company plays with desktop widgets, rather than putting these tools in a separate panel (see our review of Windows 11 for more details).

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