Microsoft should bring the Sidebar from Edge to Windows 11
Why limit one of Edge's best features to the browser?
With Microsoft announcing the new Bing powered by ChatGPT and a revamped Microsoft Edge, the Sidebar of the Edge browser is going to get more attention. While the new Bing can be used within a normal browser window, the new Edge has a Sidebar section dedicated to Bing. With interest in Microsoft's search engine booming, people could be drawn to try out Edge's Sidebar which places Bing at their fingertips.
I've written about my love for the Sidebar in the past, but I want Microsoft to take things even further. Rather than limiting the feature to Edge, I'd like the option to bring it up no matter where I am on Windows 11. Microsoft could have a keyboard shortcut summon the Sidebar on its own; then you could click shortcuts to pop content into a full browser window.
The Sidebar is a versatile feature that can be used for a variety of sites. While there are a few pages that have to expand further than the default width of the Sidebar — I'm looking at you, WhatsApp — most sites open in a window with a similar aspect ratio to a mobile phone. This means you can quickly message people through Telegram or Instagram, open up a webpage on the side for information, or use a variety of tools.
Perhaps most importantly to Microsoft, the Sidebar now has a Bing logo at the top, at least when you use the new Edge. Bringing the Sidebar to other parts of Windows would allow Microsoft to capitalize on the surge in interest in Bing.
Bringing together old ideas
The way I use the Sidebar reminds me of the old People Bar that once lived in the Windows Taskbar. Within the Sidebar, I can get notifications from my messaging services and reply to people without leaving the webpage I'm on. The best part is that the Sidebar can do this without relying on developers. Most websites have versions optimized for mobile, and those are perfect for the small window that opens up with the Sidebar.
Microsoft also likes to have its search engine a click or key away. The Start menu lets you search the web and can be summoned with a tap of an icon or a keyboard shortcut. That should stay where it is, but adding another way to access Bing through the Sidebar would give Microsoft a chance to push its search engine through a new Windows feature.
I usually dislike Microsoft shoehorning in its products and services to features, so it would be important that Microsoft would provide the option to turn Sidebar off. I also admit that I'm selling the idea a bit to anyone from Microsoft that reads this article (👋). Having the new Bing a keyboard shortcut away while anywhere in Windows would be worth it if I could summon my favorite sites the same way.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org (opens in new tab).