Microsoft Brings 'Widgets' To Windows 10 In A Way Android And iOS Have Been Doing

Microsoft Windows 10, taskbar widgets

Google has it on Android devices, and so does Apple with its iOS/iPadOS products. This is why Microsoft wants it too.

In software terms, widgets are relatively simple and easy-to-use software application or component made for one or more different software platforms.

Usually, widgets have standalone user interface, and brings forward features and functionalities of its their fully-fledged app, but in a simpler and straightforward manner.

Android has been allowing users to place and use widgets directly at the home screen. Apple followed Android using a similar strategy starting iOS 14.

Microsoft on the other hand, is introducing widgets to its Windows 10 taskbar.

With the widgets, Windows 10 users can access a feed of news, stocks, sports, and weather information straight from the taskbar. They can quickly glance at the weather without having to open the Start menu, install a third-party app, or checking them online.

This widget approach is a step forward from Windows 10's Metro-styled UI that turns practically everything in Windows 10 in their 2D forms, and the discontinued Windows Desktop Gadgets.

The widgets mark the operating system's biggest change to the Windows taskbar in years.

Microsoft Windows 10's taskbar widgets

The widgets are essentially mini-feeds of content that can only appear when users have activated the widgets. They're customizable too, allowing users to personalize the feeds with information they want.

"You can adjust which information cards are included in your experience and how weather updates are displayed," Microsoft said.

"The weather can be shown as an icon with text or as an icon only if you want to save taskbar space. You can also adjust which information cards – weather, finance, sports, traffic – are included, ensuring you are just seeing content you care about."

"You can further personalize the content that is displayed by managing your interests. Using the interest manager, you can directly indicate the topics you’re interested in, or choose the content sources from our content ecosystem that you’d like to follow. Once you are done, you will see changes reflected within news and interests."

To make this happen, Microsoft is using its Microsoft News network to surface news and content from more than 4,500 sources.

The company also said that the feature uses AI to learn what news is relevant to users when they dismissed or liked stories in the feed.

Microsoft Windows 10's taskbar widgets

Users can of course disable this new taskbar feature, and Microsoft said that it's ad-free experience.

"Of course, if you are not interested in any of this information you can simply turn off the icon," said Microsoft.

The widgets feature was expected to introduced to the public starting Windows 10 21H1, which is due this spring, or the fall release of version 21H2.

However, Microsoft appears to be confident about this feature that it's worth pushing the taskbar feature towards older versions of Windows 10.

At this time, the feature starts rolling out to those Windows 10 users who have previously opt into the 2021 cumulative update preview for Windows 10, with broader availability is planned for the next few weeks, as the May Windows security update starts rolling out.

Microsoft has been testing this taskbar widget since January, starting with its Windows Insiders on the dev channel of Windows 10 in the U.S., Canada, UK, Australia, and India.