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Windows 11's Start Menu could soon get even busier with floating widgets

The latest Windows 11 beta builds are testing Start Menu Companions to display widget-like info alongside the Start Menu.

Published onMay 10, 2024

Windows 11 Logo
  • Microsoft is testing Start Menu Companions on the latest Windows 11 beta build.
  • These are apps that provide Adaptive Cards that will be displayed on the left or right of the Start Menu.
  • These cards are web-centric, much like desktop widgets.

Everyone seems to have a love-hate relationship with Windows. The newer versions of Windows are quite nice, but Microsoft has the habit of overdoing things often and spoiling a good thing, like the forced Copilot integration. Microsoft seems to be testing some new changes for the Windows 11 Start Menu, mainly by adding in floating widgets, in case you didn’t already have some elsewhere on your desktop.

X user Albacore spotted support for “Start Menu Companions” on Windows 11 beta, build 26212 (h/t The Verge). As the leaker describes, these companions are apps that provide Adaptive Cards that display on a floating island alongside the Start Menu.

The leaker suggests that you will be able to configure Companions through Settings > Personalization > Start. This menu would feature a list of installed Companions with toggles as well as a link to the provider’s site for customization. How the widget will appear on the Start Menu is said to be up to the developer, and the intent here is to let them be web-centric like Windows 11 Widgets already are.

This is currently present only in the beta, and so it is part of testing. There’s no guarantee that the feature will come to the stable branch in the future.

How useful the feature will be would rest on how many developers create and maintain widgets that can live here and whether the user would actually like the Start Menu to become more crowded. The Start Menu serves as the starting point for accessing files and apps, so it doesn’t logically appear as a good surface for displaying pre-emptive information — that’s what the desktop would be better for and what desktop widgets already do.

Do you like these new Companions to the Windows 11 Start Menu? Let us know in the comments below!

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