Here is why Microsoft continues to add unpopular features to Windows

Martin Brinkmann
May 20, 2022
Windows 11 News

Microsoft plans to release two feature updates for its Windows operating systems later this year. Work on future feature updates continues unhindered as well, and the first builds of the 2023 feature update version are already available.

search widget in Windows 11 build 25120

One of the recent changes to these 2023 feature update preview builds is a new desktop search widget. Enabled on a small number of test devices only, the search widget adds a search form field to the Windows desktop. Users may use it to run searches using Microsoft's Bing search engine.

Web addresses may be entered directly to open sites, but any other input is redirected to Microsoft's Bing search engine. All requests are opened in Microsoft's Edge web browser when the search widget is used.

windows 11 search widget results

Microsoft Edge is used exclusively for the feature with no built-in option to change the browser. Since there is also no option to change the search engine, users are left with Bing search results when they use the search widget on the device.

It is easy enough to disable the search widget. All it takes is to right-click on the desktop, select "Show More Options" and to click on the "Show Search" option toggle.

An influx of unpopular features

windows search highlights windows 10

Microsoft added several features to its Windows operating system in recent time that are unpopular or even considered useless by part of the userbase.

In March 2022, Microsoft introduced the Search Highlight feature, which added information about the current day to Windows Widgets and icons to the taskbar; the latter confused some users, who suddenly noticed changing icons on their taskbar that they did not put there.

Windows Widgets is another controversial feature. It adds news, weather reports, stock market information and other bits to Windows. Currently, only first-party widgets are supported, including those powered by Microsoft MSN and Bing. Microsoft plans to extend Windows Widgets to support third-party additions in the future.

The Search widget is the latest addition that is controversial. Ashwin pointed out that it is not adding anything of use to the system, as searches may already be run using the built-in search functionality of the operating system.

Why is Microsoft adding these features then to the operating system? Some users may find the functionality useful, especially if they have used more complicated means previously.

One explanation for the influx of features associated with Bing and Microsoft Edge is that Microsoft wants to increase usage of Edge, Bing and other Microsoft properties. Increased usage increases Microsoft's revenue at the same time, as advertising revenue increases with usage. The features may also keep users in Microsoft's ecosystem of services and applications longer.

The features are enabled by default, as this ensures that the majority of users are exposed to them. Disabling is just a few clicks away, but it may not always be apparent right away. For instance, a right-click on the Widgets icon does nothing; you have to right-click on the taskbar instead, select Taskbar Settings, and toggle the Widget icon there to hide it.

Now You: do you find any of the recent Bing/MSN/Search feature additions useful?

Here is why Microsoft continues to add unpopular features to Windows
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Here is why Microsoft continues to add unpopular features to Windows
Microsoft is adding controversial features to Windows: here is one explanation for the recent influx in search, Bing, and MSN features.
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  1. G said on May 22, 2022 at 10:04 pm

    And here you have dumb developers like Python devs who deprecated Windows 7 support for the sake of 10, 11…

    Eventho deprecating Windows 7 didn’t improve Python performance which is the main concern.

  2. Nostradamus said on May 21, 2022 at 2:44 pm

    The top 5 linux distros are already better for the average user than Windows. The public is just not informed of this yet. They will be. All it takes is one BIG computer manufacturer to ship their products with linux and it’s the beginning of the end for Microsoft. In 2025 when Windows 10 is left behind the top 5 linux distros will have developed into very amazing products that just wipes the floor with whatever adverstising malware monster windows is at that time. I shall be laughing when all tech news we hear from Redmonds is ginormous staff layo offs and downscaling their portfolio. In 2030 Microsoft will be just Office, Outlook and Azure. All paid, shitty products. Bing and Windows will be dead.

    1. SteveQ said on May 22, 2022 at 6:37 pm

      Linux is kinda like Harley Davidson motorcycles – it’s a fine product, but you cringe at the thought of being associated with its fan base.

      Come on man, Linux is NO WHERE NEAR even A HOPE of having A SNOWBALL’S CHANCE of competing with Windows as a general use desktop.

      All that’s improved on Linux in the past 2 decades amounts to lipstick on a pig. The UIs look great now, but all the core problems remain – lousy and limited applications, horrendously difficult to configure anything beyond the absolute basics, obtuse file system structure, and a user base that is either arrogant and toxically self righteous or hyperbolically delusional.

      Don’t get me wrong, I like and use Linux, but having actually tried to get several average computer user family members on it several times, I’ve all but given up pushing it on the general public.

      It needs a major abstraction layer to hide all the esoteric things that make perfect sense to the developers but no sense at all to an average user. It needs a user friendly and intuitive bridge to the security policies of its file system (have you tried explaining why you need to use sudo su commands to edit .conf files in an etc directory to a 60 year old? I bed not!)

      Unfortunately, these things are diametrically opposed and aggressively resisted by the core Linux community, so they’ll never be addressed. Instead, 60 year old mothers, fathers, aunts and uncles are expected to learn how to pull source from GitHub, assemble tool chains and learn how to compile…. Yea, ok. Keep dreaming.

      1. Ryan said on June 17, 2022 at 6:46 pm


    2. Trey said on May 22, 2022 at 9:55 am

      Ummm no on pretty much all of that.

      1. Nostradamus said on May 22, 2022 at 1:35 pm


        You do realize it’s not 2025 yet, right?

        Let’s meet up here when the time comes, and compare notes. Unless Covid vaccines or Putin gets you first..

  3. Corky said on May 21, 2022 at 9:46 am

    I’m not sure even Microsoft know why they keep adding such features, at least from the outside they don’t seem to have a coherent idea of what Windows should be or do, is it a desktop OS or mobile OS, is it a cloud based OS or an OS with some cloud based features, is it an OS for content creators à la macOS or is it for business users/gamers, is it for novice to intermediate users or just for novice users.

    Who know, how Microsoft just seem to keep throwing stuff at the wall hoping it will stick seems to show they don’t even know and Windows is turning into a jack of all but not great at any of them.

    1. Simon Knows said on July 17, 2022 at 6:26 am

      No, Microsoft know exactly what they are doing and why.
      They want your computer to be a node on the network that is an NPC (a global citizen) application programmable interface so the NPC’s can be updated with all the permitted and narrative data that fulfills commercial political agendas.

      NPC’s will be able to access the commercial and entertainment media they want (that has all the “politically incorrect” information removed, altered movies, altered histories, everything) and they will be able to access, monitor and analyse all the NPC’s habits and commercial activities and ideas.

      You and your future generations will be correctly updated accordingly. Enjoy the ride.

  4. Anonymous said on May 20, 2022 at 10:22 pm

    Simple answer to your question…NOPE!

  5. Croatoan said on May 20, 2022 at 9:53 pm

    I use Rainmeter for widgets. There are really great and beautiful themes

  6. Jeff M.S. said on May 20, 2022 at 8:59 pm

    Windows is a scam for the past many releases and years with hardly anything of value vs the bloat and hardware requirement they pile on. Microsoft have no competition, no one to prevent abuse of power, even the US Government oversight ended. There is no law in the US against REMOVING features and massively reducing functionality in a “next gen upgrade”.

    So they are doing what comes best to them – deleting features and moving things around so overall functionality is reduced. The best you can do to oppose this is not readily “upgrade” to every Windows release. The last sensible release was Windows XP for some elite power users, Windows 7 for the mainstream crowd.

  7. Anon said on May 20, 2022 at 8:41 pm

    I forced myself to use Edge and Bing for the past week and from my perspective they really aren’t all that bad. I would say Bing is better than Google now and the Edge browser is very fast and good.

    1. Anonymous said on May 22, 2022 at 5:12 am

      The post of the year. Bing is simply awful, no matter how much ms fanboys are forcing themselves to use it because it’s from their beloved corp, that’s not even funny lol.

    2. Anonymous said on May 22, 2022 at 1:34 am

      Google search has gotten worse for sure but Bing search is not that better either. Duck Duck Go gives me better results that Google nowadays. With the everywhere tracking technology Google has, I wonder why this happens.

      Edge is good and fast but they keep bloating it, someday they will become too slow like Chrome nowadays.

    3. Hitomi said on May 21, 2022 at 10:51 am

      From a scientists or technicians perspective Bing just doesn’t give me the results I need for my work and hobbies. I’m sure Bing is awesome for cooking recipes, but without you telling us what you use it for we can only guess what scope of users can use it as an alternative.

    4. Trey said on May 21, 2022 at 3:44 am

      Oh no Stockholm Syndrome alert.

    5. Pete Mitchell said on May 21, 2022 at 3:00 am

      Sorry, but Bing’s search engine is crap.

    6. Anonymous said on May 20, 2022 at 10:10 pm

      Edge performs well as it tracks you to add revenue to the Microsoft coffers. If you think it is fair to do that without letting you know what it is picking from your pocket, use it bay all means.

      Programmers need heat, shelter, food and entertainment just like the rest of us. All of the ‘free’ browsers have to recover development costs from somewhere. No matter what browser you use, there is payment involved.

  8. Paul said on May 20, 2022 at 8:08 pm

    Windows 11 is not what users want, is what Microsoft wants. They want more good hardware on landfills, more tracking, more telemetry, more user data, less people tinkering on the OS. They are providing a black box, connected to internet on designed paths, and you will enjoy the ride. The future is bright: Nothing is yours, just a leasing.

  9. JohnIL said on May 20, 2022 at 7:53 pm

    When Microsoft baked Edge into Windows again, I felt it was the 90’s all over again with Internet Explorer. That alone convinced me Microsoft was going to exploit Windows install base to its fullest for its own benefits. Users be damned about choice and defaults. Or about customization for their own work patterns. Microsoft decided we will decide how you use our products and services. Of course Google and Apple do this to similar levels of control so this is not a one off just by Microsoft.
    I guess if you want a OS that is neutral you will have to choose a Linux derived OS that offers more user control. That’s a big break for many in which Microsoft is counting on that you want jump ship but simply whine a little but still use Windows.

    1. ECJ said on May 20, 2022 at 9:13 pm

      I think Apple get away with it as traditionally they have not been in a monopoly position, whereas Microsoft Windows has a monopoly on desktop (74.79%) and Google Android has a monopoly on mobile (71.59%).

      In all fairness to Google, Google do allow people to disable Chrome on Android if they want to. Therefore what Microsoft have done with Edge is worse, as Microsoft do not allow people to either uninstall or disable Edge. This is particularly burdensome as that means businesses need to still spend time maintaining Microsoft Edge and creating Group Policies for it, even if it’s not the main browser used in the org – because Microsoft won’t allow them to remove or disable it.

      I think all default software such as web browsers should be uninstallable by the user. With all major platforms having a store built in now, there is no reason why bundled software cannot be made uninstallable – other than because platforms want to abuse their platform position.

  10. ilev said on May 20, 2022 at 7:22 pm

    Using Bing is search and Edge to open results will enable Microsoft to show a market share boost in search and browser usage.

  11. Peter said on May 20, 2022 at 7:12 pm

    Windows at this point is an angry, old man, yelling at clouds. The disconnect from their userbase is almost as total as their remaining user-base’s reliance on their ageing & increasingly irrelevant products/services.

  12. Coriy said on May 20, 2022 at 7:08 pm

    For me, the “features” of Windows 11 are simply the, to Microsoft, logical development of the 3E approach of Microsoft since Windows 1. You know them as Embrace, Extend, Extinguish. So Embrace Android (which has a search bar widget) and give people the ability to use Android Apps, Linux Apps, etc. Extend the use of the computer to use these “alternatives” and data / money collection, and finally Extinguish. Microsoft failed with Windows Phone, but if they could embed Microsoft apps on Linux and Android…
    Well, why would you need “those” when you’ve got Windows, eh?

  13. DAG said on May 20, 2022 at 7:01 pm

    Just in the last week I accidentally used Bing for a search. It was so bad. It’s still just so bad. If you’re searching technical or hard questions then Bing is almost always pointless to use.

    1. Wokesoft Hater said on May 21, 2022 at 10:06 pm

      You missed the point. Bing was never meant to be good at anything. Same with Edge. The only reason both of those exist is ad revenue from web searches. Microsoft hates every fiber of Googles being, users on Windows using Google Chrome and Google search means Google is taking all the money from right under Microsofts nose. Kinda like Microsoft has the whorehouse but Google has all the whores. That’s what Bing and Edge is, and that’s why they desperately try to trick people to use them. Microsoft is not a good guy trying to make life easy and convenient for you, Microsoft is just another scam artist that wants money and will resort to any dirty tricks to get it.

  14. Riff raff said on May 20, 2022 at 6:56 pm

    The title is click bait as the article only offer a single speculation. Whatever the reason is, i’m sure they have the usage telemetry for the general population. The only reason I can offer is that it generates more traffics for news article about these features as the comment section are always full of complains.

    1. Steve99 said on May 21, 2022 at 10:41 pm

      >i’m sure they have the usage telemetry for the general population.

      MS did not have telemetry for a feature that did not exist, such as this new Bing Search in the center of the screen. They simply, again copied a cell phone interface and are forcing it on PC users.

      Computers are mostly for performing task, not just internet searching as this new feature would suggest. More useful center screen usage would be a quick access icons to launch apps, such as bookmarks do in modern browsers. But very few intelligent users want a cell phone interface such as Win 8/10/11 on a PC, which is why Martin correctly points out this feature has very little merit.

      Fact is, MS has very little merit in the past 12 years. I tried again to use Win 10 the other day. The OS continually fought against a useful, productive work experience. MS might have telemetry but they have very little useful knowledge about how productive people work. I’m still on Win 7 because it was the last OS MS created that did not get in the user’s way. Win 10/11? still a cell phone pox on computer users.

    2. Hitomi said on May 21, 2022 at 10:46 am


      Why do you come here if you don’t like it?
      My visual calculus tells me, you prefer to negatively comment than not comment at all.
      Why is that?

  15. tayt said on May 20, 2022 at 6:50 pm

    Microsoft realized that Windows is a monopoly and they can do whatever they want and people will still use it. There is no reason why in Windows 11 it’s so much more difficult to set default programs – they just didn’t want it to be there. It was only after an user outrage, when they decided to make it easier to set default browser. It is a one-click-thing, showing how easy it can be to set one program as the default for all formats if they wanted it to be like that.

    The problem is that their decisions have spawned a lot of 3rd party software that does what users want. Hopefully later in time there will be a 3rd party program that allows people to set their default programs with a few clicks.

    It first became prominent in Windows XP with the uxtheme.dll patching which allowed people to install custom themes, sadly since Windows 10 it became much harder as uxtheme.dll doesn’t really do much anymore – the start menu and taskbar are no longer affected by it.

    There were a lot of 3rd party programs for the start menu since Windows 8. Since Windows 10, came the programs that disabled telemetry. Windows 11 seems like it will have its own range of 3rd party software, we just have to wait and see.

  16. ECJ said on May 20, 2022 at 6:42 pm

    The constant aggressive pushiness and Microsoft’s unhealthy obsession with Edge/Bing/Microsoft advertising/subscriptions since Satya Nadella took over Microsoft has had the opposite effect for me. In 2015 I was all in on Microsoft and their products, however now, once Windows 10 goes out of support in 2025 it’s likely I will no longer use any Microsoft products at all (I’m going to give MacOS a go because I’ve pretty much had enough of this *new* Microsoft and the direction they have been going in since Satya took over).

    As a traditional business-orientated company, it should be Microsoft who are the top of the game when it comes to business users and things like privacy, but yet they can’t help themselves in a race to the bottom, with no consideration of their customers.

  17. Wokesoft Hater said on May 20, 2022 at 5:56 pm

    “Here is why Microsoft continues to add unpopular features to Windows: Greed.”

    There, I fixed the headline for you.

    Yes, Microsoft is a business and that is all about money. Add endless greed into the ecuation and disguise it as “growth” and “expansion” will end up in what we have now. Remove greed and you have a business that doesn’t need to expand, it is doing well with what it has/is and can focus on improving its product. This will generate trust and customer loyalty, pride in using well made things. Think about it, there was never any need for Microsoft to exoand. Their product was already installed on new computers, hardware manufacturers did the work for Microsofts expansion. Then came greed and we now have a product that ABSOLUTELY EVERYBODY HATES and feels like being force fed excrement. Not one single person will EVER proudly wear a Windows/Microsoft T-shirt or baseball cap. Not one bumper sticker will be sold. Because the users DETEST your greedy a**. Ultimately, you played yourself. Your reputation is ruined and you will never ever get the people’s respect. Not even if you open sourced Windows or removed all bloat and adware. It’s too late. Your company needs to die and it’s only fair. Now F**K OFF.

  18. Anonymous said on May 20, 2022 at 5:19 pm

    None of these dumb features make me want to ever use Edge, Bing, MSN. If anything its making people stay way from then. Microsoft needs to stop this nonsense and bring back a proper operating system. Dumb features like this making Windows look unprofessional.

  19. John G. said on May 20, 2022 at 4:29 pm

    The best thing of this article is the photo of those magnificent ribs ready to be eaten. All the other efforts against Microsoft’s delusions and development mistakes are a complete loss of forces and personal time. Microsoft continues with umpopular features because they don’t believe in W11. They don’t care a sh** about W11 because the worst enemy of W11 is W10 and they need to kill every trace of W10. This will be in this way for at least three years more until 2025, or even later when they decide to give two years more of support (I bet you, they will increase the support of W10 over 2025). Thanks for the article! :]

  20. pndy said on May 20, 2022 at 4:26 pm

    Microsoft for last 10 years is only interested in harvesting data from their users and it does by variety of such gimmick features which either stick to the unchanged years Windows blob or will be abandoned resulting in people responsible being pushed elsewhere within the company or simply fired. There’s no other explanation.

  21. Tachy said on May 20, 2022 at 4:15 pm

    Bing recently changed the links in their search results to include a ton of extra code which caused me to stop using it completely.

    I’m still using the old widgets. I won’t switch to new ones if they require internet access.

    1. Andy Prough said on May 20, 2022 at 8:42 pm

      At least it’s not Google. Certainly not any worse than default Android.

      1. ECJ said on May 20, 2022 at 9:47 pm

        That’s incorrect. It’s possible to disable Chrome on Android, whereas you cannot disable or uninstall Edge on Windows.

        Also, Bing search results are not on the same level as Google’s. Over the years I’ve tried really hard to use DuckDuckGo over a prolonged period of time, as I like the company’s ethos, however like all Bing-based search engines, it’s let down by Bing. It’s pointless using them if I need to keep switching to Google/Startpage to get decent results.

        And I’m certainly not going to set Bing or Bing-based search engines as the default search engine for other people’s machines, if it allows some jackass spouting nonsense conspiracy theories backed with no tangible evidence – so they can make money selling survivalist supplies and supplement pills – to get ranked as highly as reputable sources.

      2. Genisis said on May 22, 2022 at 9:19 pm

        “…if it allows some jackass spouting nonsense conspiracy theories backed with no tangible evidence..”

        WTH are you rambling on about? I did not know that the discussion was based on politics. Seriously?

    2. Bill Gates LOL said on May 20, 2022 at 7:18 pm

      Remember when MS was sued by the US and EU for doing this exact thing with Internet Explorer? I guess they are not considered a monopoly anymore? 80% of the desktop, 90% of enterprise networks, a search engine, a game console and two of the biggest game companies, a news site, a cloud service, and numerous other things (all those failed projects like phones and Mixer too) but MS is trying to sneak by and claim it’s just a little innocent tech company to avoid further lawsuits.

  22. pHROZEN gHOST said on May 20, 2022 at 4:04 pm

    Once Windows 10 is out of support, I will be going to Ubuntu Linux.
    Hasta la vista Mykro$haft.

    1. Anonymous said on May 20, 2022 at 9:56 pm

      That’s a toothless tiger of a promise. If you were serious you’d be there already.

      1. Anonymous said on May 22, 2022 at 3:39 am

        I am happy that you can predict future human behavior from the brief statement pHROZEN gHOST wrote here.
        I too will be moving over to Linux (already have it on one laptop) when M$ ends Win 10 support.
        That’s not a promise lacking Panthera tigris dentition, it is a natural fact.

  23. Paul(us) said on May 20, 2022 at 3:51 pm

    Martin, you stated, “Why is Microsoft adding these features to the operating system?”
    Your suggested “One explanation for the influx of features associated with Bing and Microsoft Edge is that Microsoft wants to increase usage of Edge, Bing and other Microsoft properties. Increased usage increases Microsoft’s revenue at the same time, as advertising revenue increases with usage.”

    I am absolutely sure that is not introduced for the users but only to cash for their (Windows) shareholders. And with me, the European Union agrees because there fining billions every year to tech companies.

    And there is more illegal stuff going on because the data breaches every year have to be because the tech companies making mostly possible. Think for example bugs that have not gotten repaired for more than 15 years.

    About not fixing bugs at all and not fixing errors in the system that are too many examples to even mention other than I have to write the largest epistle ever been written.
    But also not fixed at all or lazy fixed there are almost too many examples for one human for a man to summarize them all during his life. But there is one which I like the mention.

  24. webfork said on May 20, 2022 at 3:36 pm

    Feels like a political thing and such a missed opportunity. I’m sure they could have come up with something innovative and cool in terms of useful Windows search functions. Something that can search inside a wide variety of file types, across networks or devices, or maybe something especially fast and smart? There’s so many freeware tools that are drastically better than Windows own default search, but they think “no what’s missing was some Bing tie-ins.”

  25. revolt said on May 20, 2022 at 1:40 pm

    Sorry Microsoft, you have found a user amongst many that refuses to give in to your tactics and crap shoved down our throats, you cannot stop the movement or make it impossoible to disable anything that we dont like.

    First thing I disable is Microsoft itself. Viva la revolución.

    1. Hitomi said on May 21, 2022 at 10:33 am

      >First thing I disable is Microsoft itself. Viva la revolución.

      Strange, the government and companies handling your personal data still seem to use it.

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