Microsoft gives the starting signal for third-party widgets development for Windows 11
When Microsoft launched Windows 11 a year ago, it introduced a dedicated icon on the taskbar that would open the Widgets panel. Hovering the mouse over the Widgets icon is enough to display the interface. The initial release displayed first-party content only, including weather information, news, stock quotes, calendar data, and other content.
Microsoft announced back then that it would allow third-party widgets content. Shortly after the release of the first feature update for Windows 11, Microsoft gave the starting signal for third-party widgets development for Windows 11.
Microsoft released the Insider Preview build 25217 this week, and along with it came the announcement that developers could get to work. Microsoft released a new preview of the WinAppSDK 1.2, and it includes the third-party widgets platform according to Microsoft's announcement.
"We are excited to announce support for 3rd party widgets as part of the WinAppSDK 1.2 preview 2 release. Our team has been working hard to expand the Widgets board that was first introduced in Windows 11 to more developers."
For now, developers may test third-party widgets that they develop locally only. The latest Windows 11 Insider Preview build is required for that as well. Additionally, and that is the last of the requirements, Developer Mode needs to be enabled on the Windows 11 machine.
To do that, administrators need to open Start > Settings > Privacy & Security > For Developers. The option to enable Developer Mode is located there.
Microsoft published two support pages for developers. The first, Widgets Overview, includes important information about Windows Widgets, including design fundamentals, interaction design guidance, and Widget states and built-in UI components. The second, Widget service providers overview, offers information on implementing a widget provider in a win32 app and related information.
Microsoft has yet to announce when third-party widgets will become available on Windows 11. It is possible that basic support will be added as part of a feature drop update for Windows 11, or, when the next feature update for Windows 11 is released, which will be in late 2023. The company plans to offer them to users via its Microsoft Store.
What you may expect regarding third-party widgets
Every type of content that Microsoft is offering as a widget may soon be offered by different third-party services as well. This may include weather widgets using different sources, news from other providers, integration of file listings and document listings from providers such as Dropbox or Box.
There is also the chance that new types of widgets will make an appearance. Maybe an RSS feed reader that pushes the most recent updates to the widget, or media content.
Now you: what would you like to see created as a widget?