The latest Windows 11 preview feature is a Bing and Edge exclusive search box on your desktop

by John Stapel

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Windows 11 search bar
(Image credit: Microsoft)

Windows 11 preview updates have been bringing plenty of new features to test on the platform. Some are great like HDR sliders, and others not so much, like when it recently broke some Microsoft Store apps. But that's what preview updates are for, allowing Microsoft to test out ideas to see what works and what doesn't in front of a small batch of consumers. The current insider build holds one such feature, which many users are hoping doesn't make it to the official release.

According to The Register, Microsoft has kindly added a search box widget to the Windows 11 desktop in the Dev Channel of the 25120 update. When typed in, this box will produce a variety of drop down options, powered by Microsoft's Bing search engine and shown in Microsoft Edge. It will also ignore default browser settings, so even if those have been updated this search bar still defaults to Microsoft's programs. 

The Windows insider blog states "We are excited to learn your feedback on this interaction model, so please use the Feedback Hub to provide feedback if you receive this experiment." They'll definitely get feedback. Many users aren't going to like having Bing and Edge once again shoved in their faces, especially right on their very own desktops.

Thankfully the feature can be turned off fairly easily, but in this iteration seems to be on by default. It is also just a preview build feature being tested, so hopefully it won't actually release, especially with the understandable backlash from some testers. Though it's only a limited number of insiders who've had the pleasure of experiencing the search bar, it's already a pretty unpopular move, fairly copping ire on Twitter. 

But Windows 11 users aren't the only ones who are likely to be upset by this new feature. Rival browsers were already frustrated by Microsoft's handling of default browser options in Windows 11, so if this feature does make it to other builds, it won't just be customers complaining.

It also appears this is just the first test of one of many planned iterations of interactive content on the Windows 11 desktop. If Microsoft chooses to go ahead with more widget style experimentations, hopefully they'll integrate with more than just its own software. More cute UI animations, less product placement.

Hope Corrigan

Hope’s been writing about games for about a decade, starting out way back when on the Australian Nintendo fan site Vooks.net. Since then, she’s talked far too much about games and tech for publications such as Techlife, Byteside, IGN, and GameSpot. Of course there’s also here at PC Gamer, where she gets to indulge her inner hardware nerd with news and reviews. You can usually find Hope fawning over some art, tech, or likely a wonderful combination of them both and where relevant she’ll share them with you here. When she’s not writing about the amazing creations of others, she’s working on what she hopes will one day be her own. You can find her fictional chill out ambient far future sci-fi radio show/album/listening experience podcast at BlockbusterStation.buzzsprout.com. No, sadly she’s not kidding.