This is why Microsoft keeps adding unpopular features to Windows
Microsoft plans to release two feature updates for its Windows operating systems later this year. Work on future feature updates also continues unabated, with the first builds of feature update version 2023 now available.
One of the recent changes in these 2023 feature update preview builds is a new desktop search widget. Enabled only on a small number of test devices, the search widget adds a search form field to the Windows desktop. Users can use it to perform searches using Microsoft’s Bing search engine.
Web addresses can be entered directly into open sites, but any other input is redirected to Microsoft’s Bing search engine. All requests open in Microsoft’s Edge web browser when using the search widget.
Microsoft Edge is used exclusively for the feature without a built-in option to switch browsers. Since there is also no option to change the search engine, users are left with Bing search results when using the search widget on the device.
It is quite easy to disable the search widget. All that is required is to right-click on the desktop, select “Show more options” and click on the “Show search” option.
An influx of unpopular features
Microsoft recently added several features to its Windows operating system that are unpopular or even considered useless by the user base.
In March 2022, Microsoft introduced the Search Highlight feature, which added information about the current day to Windows widgets and icons to the taskbar; the latter confused some users, who suddenly noticed icon changes on their taskbar that they didn’t put there.
Windows Widgets is another controversial feature. It adds news, weather reports, stock information, and other bits to Windows. Currently, only proprietary widgets are supported, including those that work with Microsoft MSN and Bing. Microsoft plans to extend Windows Widgets to support third-party additions in the future.
The search widget is the latest addition that is controversial. Ashwin noted that it’s not adding anything useful to the system, as searches may already be performed using the operating system’s built-in search function.
Why is Microsoft adding these features to the operating system? Some users may find the functionality useful, especially if they have used more complicated means before.
One explanation for the influx of features associated with Bing and Microsoft Edge is that Microsoft wants to increase the use of Edge, Bing, and other Microsoft properties. Increased usage increases Microsoft’s revenue at the same time, as advertising revenue increases with usage. The features can also keep users in the ecosystem of Microsoft applications and services for longer.
Features are enabled by default, as this ensures that most users are exposed to them. Deactivation is just a few clicks away, but it may not always be immediately apparent. For example, a right-click on the Widgets icon does nothing; instead, you need to right-click the taskbar, select Taskbar Settings, and toggle the widget icon to hide it.
Now you: Do you find any of the recent additions to the Bing/MSN/Search features useful?