Microsoft is finally opening up widgets to developers in Windows 11 update

Windows 11 widgets
(Image credit: TechRadar)

At Build 2022, Microsoft has announced that widgets will soon be able to be developed by third-party developers for Windows 11.

Since its release in October 2021, widgets in the latest Windows update have seen a muted reception, due to them being restricted to a section on the Taskbar, and no way of them being opened up to developers.

However, this is going to change in a future update, most likely in Sun Valley 2, so we may see widgets from Twitch, TikTok, alternative calendar and music apps, and more.

With WWDC 2022 a few weeks away, it could be a substantial improvement that could help make it rival the widgets that Apple make available in iOS 16, iPadOS and macOS.

Analysis: Begun, the widget wars have?

CARROT iOS Widgets

(Image credit: CARROT)

Widgets on iOS have transformed how home screens look to users on an iPhone - instead of a grid of icons, there's some that only feature widgets, big and small.

They're useful bites of information that save you from checking a notification or going into the app itself. Windows has had a history of widgets, back in the Vista days when they were called gadgets. This instead looks to be a refocus for the company regarding how this feature can benefit its users, and developers.

Apple has been reaping the benefits of allowing widgets to be on the home screens of iPhone and iPadOS, with modern designs and ways to choose from small widgets, to big widgets that can fill a third of an iPad Pro display. While the same experience isn't on macOS yet, it's hoped that it could finally arrive with macOS 13, rumored to be announced at WWDC.

Find My widget in macOS 12 Monterey

(Image credit: Apple)

Opening this up to Windows could bring different benefits, mainly due to a bunch of Android apps being available on the Microsoft Store as a preview. Having widgets that could link up to some of the apps you have installed on your PC could set this apart from Apple's take. If this is also mixed in with the ability to hopefully place widgets on the desktop, it could be a feature that may rival Apple's take on this.

However, while we may hear of widget improvements for macOS 13 at WWDC in a few weeks, developer widgets will most likely arrive in Windows 11 toward the end of the year.

This may work in Microsoft's favor though, as it can give time for developers to work and release their own widgets, allowing a breadth of these for users to choose.

Time will tell, but it looks as though a widget war has already begun.

Daryl Baxter
Software & Downloads Writer

Daryl had been freelancing for 3 years before joining TechRadar, now reporting on everything software-related. In his spare time he's written a book, 'The Making of Tomb Raider', alongside podcasting and usually found playing games old and new on his PC and MacBook Pro. If you have a story about an updated app, one that's about to launch, or just anything Software-related, drop him a line.