Windows 11 Opens the Floodgates for Third-Party Widgets

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A fresh Windows 11 logo on a blue landscape

Windows 11 introduced a new panel for widgets, providing easy access to information like weather, upcoming calendar events, and traffic data. Only Microsoft could make widgets, but that has now changed.

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Microsoft announced back in May that it was working on a way for third-party applications (software not made by Microsoft) to add their own widgets to the widgets panel on Windows 11. The company has now released a new preview version of its Windows App SDK, alongside Windows 11 Insider Preview Build 2517, which makes third-party widgets a reality. Developers can now start creating widgets for their applications, which can then be used on all Windows 11 PCs after the technology leaves preview.

image of Widgets on Windows 11

Microsoft says apps can create a single widget or multiple widgets, which can have a background image, text boxes, multiple buttons, and other functionality. It sounds like how widgets on Android devices and iPhone/iPad function, but with a higher degree of interactivity. Microsoft explains in its documentation, “Widgets are not meant to replace apps and websites, but rather provide frictionless access to most-needed information or often-used functionalities that people can read/trigger right away.”

Importantly, widgets are aimed at “packaged Win32 apps” — it sounds like only apps from the Microsoft Store will be able to provide widgets, but that may change in the future. Microsoft also says that Progressive Web Apps installed through the Edge browser will be able to provide widgets “as part of a future Microsoft Edge release.”

Source: Windows Insider Blog

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