One of the new features in Windows 11 is the Widgets panel or board, which is essentially a reboot of Windows 10 News and Interests. While Windows 10 News and Interests only provides news updates, the Widgets board can display interactive content from apps like Microsoft Store , Calendar, etc.
However, the Windows 11 Widgets panel is relatively limited as it only supports native apps developed by Microsoft. It can only display weather, sports, news, and updates from selected apps, such as Microsoft To Do, Photos, Calendar, and more. During build 2022, Microsoft confirmed that a huge library of widgets could be available later this year.
According to the Microsoft documentation, widgets are powered by Adaptive Cards written in JSON that allow apps or services to openly exchange data. Using Adaptive Cards, Microsoft can transform JSON into a native user interface that automatically adapts to a specific app’s container/window.
It helps to design and integrate a lightweight user interface for all major platforms and frameworks. The company says that adaptive map-based widgets can act as a great companion experience for Win32 and PWA apps on Windows 11.
Adaptive Cards is not a new technology and Microsoft uses it in Windows Timeline, Teams, Cortana, Outlook and more. We’re not exactly sure how developers can integrate their apps with Widgets, but a document has confirmed that widgets have only minimal impact on performance.
Microsoft noted that these third-party Adaptive Card-based widgets will always use “low memory and CPU” and that their adaptive interface will automatically format them to match the host/form factor experience.
Later this year, Microsoft will let developers publish widgets through the Windows Store, and the process of publishing widgets to the store would be the same as submitting a regular app.
New features are coming to the Widgets panel: full screen mode and more
Earlier this year, Microsoft also announced a few new minor additions to the Widgets panel.
At this point, widgets open from the left side of the screen. This could change soon as Microsoft is working on a new optional feature to open the Widgets panel in full screen mode. In full screen widgets occupy the entire desktop and take up the entire screen.
This means that users can access more widgets and news items from MSN at once, and it is also easier to use for tablets.
Apparently the Widgets panel is getting another feature that will allow the widget board to show updates related to both work and personal accounts.
Currently, the Widgets panel shows updates based on the account you are using. In a future update, Windows 11 will display items from both accounts, with business or school-related items on the left and personal items on the right.