Here is why Microsoft continues to add unpopular features to Windows
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.
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.
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
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?Advertisement