Leak Confirms Large Desktop Widgets Upgrade

Windows 11 version 22H2, also known as Sun Valley 2, is expected to be finalized in a few months for a late summer rollout. Codenamed Sun Valley 2, it would be Windows 11’s anniversary update and will focus on quality improvements to polish the existing user interface.

As you probably know, Windows 11 comes with a redesigned Start menu and taskbar, and several basic features are missing. For example, you can’t easily ignore the “recommended” in the new Start menu. It is also not possible to increase the number of application icons in the Start menu.

Similarly, the “Widgets” card for Windows 11’s flagship feature appears to be incomplete and does not currently support third-party widgets. You can only manage widgets such as Microsoft Calendar, Movies & TV, and Microsoft To-Do, but that will change with Windows 11 Sun Valley 2 in the second half.

Windows 11 third-party widgets

New developer guidelines, which have appeared on Microsoft’s website, have confirmed that a future Windows 11 update will significantly improve the Widgets Panel by adding support for third-party widgets.

The support document suggests that these third-party widgets will be web-based and that Microsoft does not currently plan to offer Win32 or UWP widgets through the widget board, but that may change in the future.

Interestingly, it looks like third-party widgets can be installed without the Store. According to the document, publishing web widgets to the Microsoft Store would provide improved discovery in the Microsoft Store or Widgets Table. Developers can publish a Windows app widget through the Store and the process would be the same.

  • The app extension manifest is used to register widgets with the Widget array.
  • The MSI installer code performs COM registration and calls widget registration APIs at install time.
  • Web widgets are supported, more to come later.

Additionally, there’s mention of “adaptive cards” in the docs, which are “platform-independent UI snippets” designed to be integrated into host experiences such as widgets. Adaptive cards are automatically designed to match the host experience, ensure low memory and CPU usage, and more.

It’s possible that Microsoft is already working on new widgets with a small group of developers and public testing should start in a few weeks as Microsoft wants this feature to be ready for Windows 11 Sun Valley 2.

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