Home screen widgets are now a staple on mobile, especially after Apple adopted them for the latest iOS and iPadOS releases. On the desktop, however, it’s not exactly a common functionality and they come and go, depending on the version of the operating system. The old OS X, for example, once had dashboard widgets and users on Windows had some third-party software that added those to the desktop. It seems that Microsoft is now considering making widgets a more standard part of the Windows experience and it will be arriving via Microsoft Edge.
Microsoft is heavily advocating the development and use of PWAs or Progressive Web Apps to supplement its lack of UWP (Universal Windows Platform) apps. Unlike your run-of-the-mill web apps, PWAs look and behave like apps native to each platform, sometimes having access to the same hardware and platform features that native software also has. It turns out, they also make good Web widgets for the desktop.
Windows Latest reports that Microsoft is testing web widgets on the desktop that are taken from Edge browser tabs or web apps. This is similar to the upcoming News and Weather feed on the Windows 10 taskbar, except it’s stuck to the desktop instead. And even when you close Microsoft Edge, you can still access the widget via a floating icon that sits on top of other Windows apps.
That isn’t the only feature that’s coming to Microsoft Edge, though. The web browser will introduce a way to search for Tabs that you might have opened but buried under dozens of other tabs. There will also be a single icon to reveal the extensions you have installed, though users will reportedly have a way to pin some of them directly on the address bar for faster access.
There is no timeline yet on when these features will be available to the general public. Their development, however, does show how Microsoft is adding value on top of Chromium rather than just simply slapping on its branding. Hopefully, it could also fix some of Chrome’s biggest problems, from battery consumption to a pretty lax add-ons ecosystem.