Windows 11 brought the return of widgets to Microsoft’s desktop operating system, but for the most part they’ve been confined to a Widgets board that slides out from the left side of the screen when you want to use it and hides away when you don’t.

Now Microsoft has introduced an experimental search box widget that lives on the desktop. It’s available for testing now as part of Windows 11 Insider Preview Build 25120, but only for some members of the Windows Insider program. It’s unclear if or when the search widget will make its way to stable versions of Windows.

Microsoft says the search widget allows users to search the web without opening a browser or even opening the Start Menu. Just type a query into the search box on the desktop.

The idea is hardly unique. Google has been putting a search box on the Android home screen for years. But whether it’s as useful on a desktop home screen remains to be seen… it could certainly be useful for Microsoft though, as a way to get you to use the company’s Bing search engine rather than Google, DuckDuckGo, or other alternatives.

Search results also always open in Microsoft’s Edge web browser, regardless of whether or not it’s set as your default browser. While it’s possible that may change in the future, for now it looks like the search widget is tied to Microsoft’s search engine and browser.

Don’t want a search widget on your Windows 11 desktop? Microsoft notes that you can disable it by right-clicking on the desktop, choosing “Show more options,” and sliding the toggle by the “Show search” setting to the off position.

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  1. I can tell you now that it will be disabled right away. Hopefully MS will unbloat the search from the taskbar.

  2. …Why?
    I can literally just press the windows key and start typing. There’s a search button on the taskbar. Do people in some focus group just feel like something is “wrong” when handed a tablet without a search widget?
    In fact I never saw the point of lumping local computer and web search results together, or search widgets to begin with. How clueless would you have to be, to not know if something you want is probably saved on your computer or not?
    Well, maybe some people are so dumb they actually need this kind of “find everything box” with a “just let the botnet think for you dear” approach, given that zoomers don’t know what a directory is. Maybe Microsoft and Google really want everything about how an operating system works to be abstracted away, until there’s no distinction in people’s minds between stuff that runs on their computers and stuff that runs in the browser. Then, these social engineering companies can apply their internet rules about “you said something allegedly wrong, you got kicked out, grow up” to your entire OS too!

    Okay, maybe I’m getting a bit too angry about a search widget. But behind that search widget was an idea, a plan. The question is, just how big is that idea?

    1. Most of the features I wanted to use in Windows with the exception of searching for files in Explorer were present in XP and (for me) most of the not inconsiderable work in installing Windows 10 is disabling or uninstalling unwanted features. I oppose Microsoft’s efforts to impose Secure Boot in an apparent effort to deny (or at least impede) users control over their own computers and choice of operating systems and I see no poin in installing Windows 11, which can only require even more work to return to an XP-like interface than Windows 10 and which was originally to require Secure Boot and TPM, at least until support for Windows 10 ends in October of 2025. Although I like the idea of running the OS with the largest universe of easily-installable software, I don’t make much use of it at all and I find the user experience in Porteus satisfactory — an ultra-efficient, XP-like, XFCE desktop able to run the latest Firefox, LibreOffice, other modules prepared for Porteus, and modules prepared from Slackware or Debian ones — a totally functional Porteus installation with lots of extra software can be under 3GB and be installed simply by copying and installing a bootloader (under UEFI, copying its EFI and boot folders to the ESP). It’s not limited to Porteus, of course, but one clear advantage of running it on my desktop rather than Windows 10 is that Windows 10 has never worked with my Mpow bluetooth dongle; it apparently has a defective driver, never fixed and audio only cuts in occasionally and way out of sync — bluetooth in Linux works fine. Windows 10 is one of the operating systems I use, but I may go cold turkey on MS by November of 2025.