Microsoft tests Windows 11 desktop widgets with the 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 signed up for the latest preview build of Windows 11 will see the new search box, but anyone who likes it and doesn’t like it can disable the feature by right-clicking on the desktop, selecting “Show more options” and then toggling “Show search”.

If you’re running the latest preview build, you’ll also need to restart your computer to give the search box a chance 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 could be useful if you need to get to content quickly after starting your machine from scratch. But most people, I suspect, constantly have at least one browser window open, and will probably find it easier to search from there than going to the desktop. (A cynic might note that it’s also another way Microsoft directs users to Edge and Bing.)

In any case, it’s interesting to see the company play around with desktop widgets, rather than corral these tools into a separate pane (for more, see our Windows 11 review).

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