Windows 11 may soon support third-party widgets

Windows 11 Widgets 4
Windows 11 Widgets 4 (Image credit: Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Windows 11 may soon support third-party widgets within the Widgets panel.
  • Developers will reportedly be able to submit widgets through the Microsoft Store.
  • Presently, only a small collection of widgets is available on Windows 11.

Windows 11 has a Widgets panel, but it's relatively limited since it only supports widgets from Microsoft. At the moment, it can show weather, news, traffic, and a selection of other information. You can also show your Outlook Calendar, photos, and items from Microsoft To Do within the Widgets panel. Soon, a vast library of widgets could become available. Developer FireCube claims that Microsoft will soon announce support for third-party widgets.

Based on screenshots shared by FireCube, Microsoft will soon let developers publish widgets through the Microsoft Store. The process of getting widgets into the store would be the same as submitting an application. It appears that a few types of widgets will be supported, including web widgets. This would provide developers with a few options for getting widgets onto Windows 11.

See more

If Windows 11 does support third-party widgets, the Widgets panel would become significantly more useful. The expansion of functionality would depend on third-party developers, but there's a passionate community of Windows developers that would likely create a range of widgets.

We'll have to wait to hear from Microsoft to confirm the expansion of the Widgets panel.

While the Widgets panel is limited at the moment, it can still show certain content. We have a guide on how to personalize the Widgets panel on Windows 11 to help you get started.

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).

29 Comments
  • It was just a matter of time.
  • Yes, but I think they should have launched this Widgets bar with there already being 3rd party support. This might be just too little too late. Most people tried the widgets once, then disabled the shortcut and forgot it exists. This is a classic Microsoft move: fumble an otherwise great idea out of the gate, then kill it one or two years down the line, which only makes the few people who used it angry, everyone else indifferent. Hope I'm wrong though. I'll be among the first to make a widget once it'll be open to do so.
  • MS has a release window to hit, delay it and you get bad press. They wanted Windows 11 to ship with Android app support but this is now coming this year. I disagree that releasing a working product without 3rd party support is a fumbled release. Widgets aren't buggy in their current form.
  • bradavon, I agree that Widgets work fine in Windows 11 (for the limited number of Widgets that exist), but I also think that Gabe is right that MS' rollout strategy increases the likelihood that they fail with users, because w/o third-party Widgets, they seem very limited and not all the useful. These are separate issues and not mutually exclusive. MS often has great ideas, but don't integrate enough features, partners, compatibility to achieve a critical mass for success. With those missing at the start, people's first impressions are diminished. And like with many things, you don't get a second chance to make a first impression. There is one possible solution to this: show steady improvement and a long-term commitment to the majority of products you launch. This teaches customers, "Even if it's not good now, it will be, so I can safely stick with it." Again, MS doesn't do either of these. They often leave new products to wither on the vine, then blame lack of user adoption as the reason for abandonment. They create their own self-fulfilling prophecy of doom. Sadly, MS has trained users and customers not to trust them to improve their offerings over time, which translates to reduced willingness to try their new concepts (with many fearing they'll just be abandoned anyway).
  • Well said, the problem with MS is they train it to their customers and users not to fully trust them with steady improvements of things they just released. So many things that launched either or combination of rushed state, incomplete expected feature-set, bugs, UI inconsistency, lack of 3rd-party or many support, bad UI implementation. Windows Widgets now is too basic with too many limitations that likely many have ignored or actually disable the button, forgetting its existence. Microsoft will have to re-introduce that this is great this time, like way better than what was even promised even maybe. Since another underwhelming release might just end up the same fate. The excemptions where discovering this for the first time and found it really useful, which is great for them. What I hope is this 3rd-party support is actually that good. The widgets system actually addresses the issue we have currently, like offline support, actually opening apps, performance hog, responsiveness and fixing UI bugs that sometimes glitches. We will see what it really is once released.
  • in the current form widgets are half baked: they open an Edge page.
    These are real Widgets and yes, they are from MS itself:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUfMszCJSwI
  • That is sadly abandoned research from Microsoft. That what it should have been with Live Tiles for Windows 10, probably it will be far more useful to more people than what we had. And they should have open this up to Win32.
  • I've been saying this since I first installed Windows 11 preview on my Surface Pro 6. It just makes sense. For those of use that like/prefer the Windows 10 Start for this functionality would likely embrace Windows 11 sooner than later. This is a welcomed compromise, because it gives people more choice and freedom.
  • Plus, they're called "Widgets" not "Microsoft Add-Ons." Seems obvious they always intended that these would open up to others.
  • A useful feature I can see MS removing in a few years because most developers won't see it worth their time developing for sadly. Widgets (then called Gadgets) never took off with Windows 7 and MS removed them in Windows 8.
  • Definitely possible. I hope that's not what happens. I view the new Widgets as MS trying to harness the positive aspects to Live Tiles, enhancing those, while simultaneously separating them from the Start Menu and launch icons. Even though most apps never gained Live Tiles, they all competed for space on the Start Menu with each other. Arguably, this was bad for both: if you wanted a lot of info at a glance, the icons scattered through your Start menu cut into that space, and if you just wanted to launch an app, the giant Live tiles for Weather and News wasted room for organizing app icons. I say that as someone who liked Live Tiles, used them effectively to help me throughout the day, and miss them in Windows 11, but that reasoning is sound. Moving the information tiles to a separate Widgets Panel allows both functions to be improved. At least in theory.
  • Even if that's the case, at least they will have made it an option for Devs and consumers. One of the major issues was that Microsoft did little to fully embrace and evolve Live Tiles on Windows 8 and 10, themselves. Hopefully, they will not follow that same path. If they arent going to lead they way to show off possible useful features and benefits of your own software, not many Devs will take advantage of them, outside of simple notifications. Especially, if they are simply porting over an Android app.
  • STRONGLY agree. MS needs to show support for its own services and products by integrating their own offerings. They used to be great at this, until they were hit with an antitrust suit. It's as if that scared them off of thinking about these things from a customer/user perspective, to focusing on avoiding accusations of monopolistic behavior. Sadly, that's been to our detriment.
  • Not quite. "Gadgets" first appeared in Vista. They were held over as a "legacy" for Windows 7 and 8, but Microsoft (correctly) recommended they be DISABLED because of massive security issues with them. They had unfettered access to SYSTEM-level API's and ran as SYSTEM. Plus, you could download them from ANYWHERE so there was no control of them at all. Because of this it was trivial to create and distribute malicious "Gadgets".
    They were re-architected in W10 for this reason, being moved to the Windows Store exclusively where they could be checked for malicious actions more easily (and remotely disabled if malicious activity was detected.)
    W11 further sandboxes them to increase their security.
  • The concept is much older: it was first documented in 2001, just search for:
    Microsoft/tr-2001-83.pdf
    Envisioned for Longhorn, all the released Beta builds had the Sidebar available, and finally implemented, although half backed, in Vista
  • Yeah, Gadgets first introduced with Vista and still in Windows 7, but completely removed or disabled in Windows 8 since there is Live Tile anyways. Live Tiles were far more secure, looks consistent, stable and far more responsive with little system load. Windows 10 Live Tiles have slight improvements, but it also started to deteriorate and gaining bugs that Microsoft didn't all fix. Interactive Live Tiles were also in the research before but never done it with Windows 10 development, so Microsoft basically let Live Tiles rot, not just because people "not using" them. When they started deprioritizing UWP, they never let Live TIles to be used for WIn32 apps, thus getting "less" support due to dwindling UWP apps.
  • I disagree with this. "Gadgets" became available in Vista. Their popularity led to the magnificent Stardock collection and to apps like Rainmeter. Stardock is still around and I still use widgets/gadgets in Rainmeter. As others here pointed out, they were a security risk and this could have been fixed. Windows 8 happened because a boob like Steve Ballmer was in charge. Thanks to him, we lost the Zune, the Windows Phone, and Windows 7, which was one of the best interations of Windows ever created. It should have been steadily improved. Instead, we got Windows 10 in order to fix the disaster that was Windows 8 and to save face so that MS didn't have to admit to its butt-ugly UI decisions when Windows 7 was a work of art.
  • And what they added to replace them?...
  • Well this isn't a shock and is definitely welcome, but Widgets would be far more useful if they could launch an associated app instead of a web page. Or at least if web links can be easily associated with an app (not like the nightmare that is W10 when it comes to this).
  • You know what Microsoft should do? They should have these blocks on the start menu that display live information. Once clicked, it will link to that article within the application associated with that block of information. Developers could customise these blocks and they could be pinned or removed from said start menu by the user. Users could also turn off this live information if they do desired. Microsoft could call this UX something like Tiles Live! or even Live Tiles. Oh wait...
  • This sounds useful actually, one big dedicated widget panel with a gesture to quickly show it. I do not think it even needs much support from third parties, just todo/task/note apps and maybe quick controls for Spotify etc.
  • Here's the question: Will Windows Central create a Widget for Windows news articles? I still use the Windows 10 app and Live Tile (on my remaining Windows 10 computers), but it's gotten pretty bad since Thanksgiving, not updating regularly now.
  • Name six widgets you wished you had that aren't already offered.
  • Current non-MS Live Tiles I value come to mind: WindowsCentral
    Weather.com and Accuweather
    Various non-MS news sources
    Word of the Day Others I'd like to see: Wall Street Journal (no current Windows 10 app, so no current Live Tile)
    Facebook, Twitter, and other social feeds
    Xbox gamer messages and updates
    Photos from OneDrive
    Feed on my phone (via Your Phone)
  • Sticky Notes
    OneNote
    myTube
    Mail
    Facebook
    Instagram
    Spotify
    Netflix
    RSS
    SmartThings
    Pulseway
    Stocks
    Media Player There are more and definitely more than six at least.
  • aXross, great additional list. I would use many of those too. Hadn't thought of Netflix, but yeah, seeing upcoming movie and show announcements from all the big streaming services would be great. The RSS feed is a good one too. If we could add any RSS feed that would be a great way to have a custom news feed (it would even address my Windows Central request, because they provide an RSS feed for all these stories).
  • Thanks, yeah RSS would be very hand to have. Especially if we really want to customize our own news feed other than MSN News provider. Though RSS coming from Microsoft could be tough since they want their MSN engagement numbers to rise. I can see this with 3rd party like Nextgen Reader for example. Netflix and other streaming services hopefully will care enough to create widgets and this provide user experience to see the new and featured movies, shows, and things you haven't finished watching. But would be even great if Microsoft Store also showcase movies for streaming service, and that will show up in Entertainment widget. Basically like how Google TV does. It would be very awesome to have.
  • Now Microsoft should provide iPados style Optional dedicated vertical space for widgets that is Scrollable within that space. Apple named it today view and if I am not wrong they have removed it from current iPad os in exchange of putting widgets directly on home screen.
  • Yes, I'd like MS to also allow us to put any Widget(s) we want directly on the Desktop.