The Widgets panel is a new feature introduced in Windows 11 that can give you details about the weather, news, traffic and more via ‘widgets’ – essentially small apps that give you at-a-glance information. You can bring up the Widgets panel by either swiping from the left-hand side of the screen, or pressing Windows + W on your keyboard.
While this might sound useful, the problem is that there aren’t many widgets available, and most of them are tied to Microsoft services (such as Outlook or OneDrive), making them pretty much useless if you don’t use those services. The fact that the Widgets panel is hidden away doesn’t help either, and it’s led to the feature being all to easy to ignore and forget about.
Microsoft needs to act to make sure the Widgets panel doesn’t go the way of other unloved Windows features, such as the notorious ‘Metro’ Start screen of Windows 8. The good news is that Microsoft appears to be looking at ways to improve Widgets.
Third party support
As Windows Central reports, a developer has posted on Twitter claiming that Microsoft will soon announce that it will allow third party Widgets in Windows 11. This should allow for a much more diverse, and potentially useful, selection of Widgets.
According to the developer, FireCube, Microsoft is talking to third parties, explaining that they will soon be able to submit widgets through the Microsoft Store – in the same way Windows apps are submitted.
Information about third party widgets, publishing widgets and more. Looks like Microsoft is soon going to announce third party widgets officially.#Windows11 pic.twitter.com/ASRD98IMI6January 16, 2022
Hopefully this means we should see an influx of new, more useful Widgets coming to Windows 11. With the documentation apparently being shared with developers, it looks like Microsoft could be getting ready to officially announce third party widgets soon.
Will it be too late for Windows 11 widgets? Perhaps – some people will have already made their minds up about the feature. However, if Microsoft can convince some big names to make widgets for Windows 11, then perhaps users can be convinced to give them another chance.
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Matt is TechRadar's Managing Editor for Core Tech, looking after computing and mobile technology. Having written for a number of publications such as PC Plus, PC Format, T3 and Linux Format, there's no aspect of technology that Matt isn't passionate about, especially computing and PC gaming. Ever since he got an Amiga A500+ for Christmas in 1991, he's loved using (and playing on) computers, and will talk endlessly about how The Secret of Monkey Island is the best game ever made.