Home screen add-ons are now the main thing for mobile devices, especially after Apple adopted them for the latest releases of iOS and iPadOS. However, on the desktop this is not a very common functionality and they come and go, depending on the version of the operating system. For example, the old OS X used to have dashboard widgets, and Windows users had third-party software that added them to the desktop. Microsoft now seems to be thinking of making widgets a more standard part of the Windows experience and will arrive via Microsoft Edge.
Microsoft strongly advocates the development and use of PWAs or progressive web applications in addition to the lack of UWP (Universal Windows Platform) applications. Unlike your usual web applications, PWAs look and behave like applications native to each platform, sometimes having access to the same hardware and platform features that the original software has. It turns out that they also make good web widgets for the desktop.
The latest Windows reports that Microsoft is testing web widgets on your desktop downloaded from Edge browser tabs or web applications. This is similar to the upcoming news and time feed on the Windows 10 taskbar, except it’s stuck on the desktop instead. Even when you close Microsoft Edge, you can still access the widget via the floating icon located on top of other Windows applications.
However, this is not the only feature that comes in Microsoft Edge. The web browser will present a way to search for tabs that you may have opened but buried under dozens of other tabs. There will also be one icon that will reveal the extensions you have installed, although users will reportedly have a way to pin some of them directly to the address bar for faster access.
There is no timeline yet when these features will be available to the general public. Their development, however, shows how Microsoft is adding value on top of Chromium, not just slapping its branding. Hopefully it could also fix some of Chrome’s biggest problems, from battery consumption to a rather loose accessory ecosystem.