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.