PowerToys to bring Spotlight-like launcher to Windows 10 later this year

Powertoys Launcher
Powertoys Launcher (Image credit: Niels Laute)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft is working on a new launcher as part of the PowerToys app.
  • The launcher will allow people to search for apps and files and support plugins.
  • The launcher will follow Fluent Design language and fit in with modern parts of Windows 10.

Microsoft-made PowerToys will add a new launcher later this year. The launcher will allow people to search for files and apps, and it will support plugins such as search engines and calculators. Microsoft is working with the open-source community to design the launcher, and a public beta is planned to roll out this May, according to The Verge's Tom Warren.

PowerToys originally appeared in Windows 95 and was recently relaunched to add handy features for power users on Windows 10. While PowerToys is a separate app and does not make any changes to the Windows 10 operating system, it does feel native when you use it. For example, the PowerRename feature that allows you to bulk rename files appears directly within the right-click context menu.

Microsoft's Clint Rutkas shared a poll earlier this week asking peole to help name the new launcher.

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According to Warren, the new launcher will originally handle basic search tasks that you'd perform through Start Menu search on Windows. Over time, Microsoft plans to add a more powerful launcher akin to Alfred from macOS. UX designer Niels Laute shared a concept of a redesigned launcher earlier this year. Warren states that Microsoft is adopting some of Laute's code to make the launcher have a modern design.

Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at sean.endicott@futurenet.com (opens in new tab).

  • Serious question, why wouldn't I just use the Start Menu for this functionality? Mac OS doesn't have the same obvious built-in launching point so they developed a launcher accessible by a quick shortcut key. Windows already has that so what good is a non-standard UI with redundant functionality? If there is something that this does that the Start menu doesn't, why not just integrate with it instead of this?
  • Win+R is not new. They're simply expanding it to a whole new level.
  • He's not talking about Win+R, but only Win + typing (= using the search bar)
  • Personally the problem is the search system built into Windows. It very often can't ID the app I'm looking for (though it's gotten a lot better in the past 2 years). The problem is related to how dumb Timeline is - it remembers useless files you had open for 3 seconds 8 hours ago, but can't remember what files you had open for 8 hours and were closed 3 seconds ago. For me it has nothing to do with having some centered pop-up and pretending like Apple invented IO. This is about potentially filling a void in MS's crappy local search.
  • I still don't get what the appeal is to searching for names every-time you want to start something up vs to just pinning items to the taskbar or start. The latter seems easier to memorize to me and faster to use (1 click or win-key + 1 click, or just hotkeys: win-key f1 to f10).
    To only real advantage to something like spotlight that I can think of would stuff like quickly looking up the weather, but a widget or live tile would be superior to that I think. Or just look it up in the browser.
  • It's fast. My hands are 90% hovering over the keyboard, and keyboard muscle memory works so well.
  • Seriously hope they wont replace Windows + R's traditional "run box" with this fortnite/smartphone looking pop up prompt.
    Run is perfect for running batch scripts and starting programs and i have always used it. It doesn't need any change in appearance. it's a small and neat like it should be already.