Windows 11 continues to evolve
Microsoft appears to be making some much-needed changes to Windows 11 to help its new operating system run faster.
As Windows Latest reports, Microsoft is actually undoing one of the changes it made back in 2019, when it added a feature to the Windows File Explorer search box that allowed you to search your OneDrive cloud storage alongside local files. The ‘Recent files’ section of Explorer also got support for Office.com online files.
While this addition may have been useful for people who store (or create) a lot of files using Microsoft’s online services, if you don’t use them (or you use alternatives like Google Drive), then this feature is pretty pointless. Even worse, however, is that it made File Explorer run more slowly in both Windows 10 and Windows 11.
Because the File Explorer is such an integral part of Windows, it means that if it starts to perform poorly, it can cause your entire PC to feel sluggish.
It’s good news, then, that it looks like Microsoft is looking to address this issue in an upcoming version of Windows 11. An early build that some people have been testing have now got the ability to turn off Office.com integration in File Explorer.
While the option to turn it off is hidden away in the rather obscure Group Policy editor tool, it will allow you to stop Explorer from including online Office.com files. This option will also stop the Windows 11 Start menu from searching for and displaying online Office documents.
By turning it off, Windows 11 won’t try to connect to and search for online Office files, which should make the operating system as a whole feel faster to use.
Of course, if you do find this feature useful, you’ll still be able to use it, as it’ll remain turned on by default.
Windows Vista-like gadgets to return
Microsoft isn’t just looking at its past to fix mistakes – it seems it’s also taking inspiration from them, as Windows Latest also reports that Windows 11 could see the return of Windows Vista-like gadgets.
It’s no secret that Windows Vista was one of the more unpopular versions of the operating system, so it seems slightly surprising that Microsoft would take any of its features for inspiration for Windows 11.
That’s especially true of gadgets. These were basic apps that you could pin to the desktop and display various information, such as your email inbox. Third party companies were also encouraged to create their own gadgets, which some of them did at first.
However, not only did Windows Vista prove to be unpopular, but its gadgets feature was even more unloved, leading to many companies to abandon support for them.
However, sources have indicated to Windows Latest that Microsoft is planning to return to this idea – but with some key changes. Apparently, they will now be called widgets, and will only be shown in Windows 11’s widget board, and won’t be added to the desktop.
At the moment, the widget board only contains Microsoft-made widgets, so allowing third party support could see widgets become more useful.
There is a risk, however, of history repeating itself. Microsoft needs to ensure that users find widgets useful. If they don’t use them, then third party companies won’t bother making them.
While keeping widgets to the widget board will mean user’s desktops don’t become cluttered, it could also just mean widgets are hidden out of sight. If you don’t use the widget board regularly (and we’d guess most users currently don’t), then you may forget they are even there, limiting how useful they actually are.
What Microsoft doesn’t want to do is add yet another feature to Windows 11 that no one uses. Let’s hope this isn’t the case.