Here’s why Microsoft keeps adding unpopular features to Windows
Microsoft plans to release two feature updates for its Windows operating systems later this year. Work on future feature updates is also continuing unhindered, and early versions of feature update release 2023 are already available.
One of the recent changes in these preview builds of Feature Update 2023 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 can use it to search using Microsoft’s Bing search engine.
Web addresses can be entered directly on open sites, but all 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 functionality with no built-in option to switch browsers. Since there is also no option to change the search engine, users are left with Bing search results when using the search widget on the device.
It is quite easy to disable the search widget. Just right-click on the desktop, select “Show more options” and click on the “Show search” option.
An influx of unpopular features
Microsoft has recently added several features to its Windows operating system which are unpopular or even considered unnecessary by part of the user base.
In March 2022, Microsoft introduced the Search Highlight feature, which added current day information to Windows widgets and taskbar icons; the latter confused some users, who suddenly noticed changing icons on their taskbar that they hadn’t put there.
Windows Widgets is another controversial feature. It adds news, weather reports, stock information and other stuff to Windows. Currently only proprietary widgets are supported, including those powered by Microsoft MSN and Bing. Microsoft plans to expand Windows Widgets to support third-party additions in the future.
The search widget is the latest controversial addition. Ashwin pointed out that it adds nothing useful to the system, as searches can already be run using the operating system’s built-in search functionality.
So why is Microsoft adding these features to the operating system? Some users may find the feature useful, especially if they have used more complicated means before.
One explanation for the influx of features associated with Bing and Microsoft Edge is that Microsoft wants to increase the use of Edge, Bing, and other Microsoft properties. Increased usage increases Microsoft’s revenue at the same time, because ad revenue increases with usage. Features can also allow users to stay longer in Microsoft’s ecosystem of services and applications.
Features are enabled by default, as this ensures that the majority of users are exposed to them. Deactivation is only a few clicks away, but it may not always be apparent right away. For example, right-clicking the Widgets icon does nothing; you need to right-click the taskbar instead, select Taskbar Settings, and toggle the Widget icon to hide it.
Now you: Do you find any of the recent Bing/MSN/Search feature additions useful?