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Messenger could be the dawn of third-party Windows widgets

Messenger could be the dawn of third-party Windows widgets


Windows 11’s widget system has mostly consisted of Microsoft-made apps, but now a major developer is working on using the feature.

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Screenshot of Microsoft’s Widget tray with a Facebook Messenger widget displaying several conversations.
Image: Microsoft

One of the first third-party widgets for Windows 11 may end up being Meta’s Messenger. Microsoft announced on Wednesday that there’s now a preview version of the app in the Microsoft Store with support for the widget system, letting you see your latest messages right from the widget tray.

The widget doesn’t appear to be available unless you’re running the latest Insider Preview build, so most people won’t be able to try it out just yet. If you are, it may be a bit of a spotty experience — Microsoft says the preview has a few known issues where “third-party widgets may occasionally disappear from the widgets board” or get unpinned.

If you are running the preview, you can try the Messenger widget out by downloading or updating the app, opening the widget board, and clicking the “+” button to access the list of available widgets. Then, click on the Messenger one, which should pin it to the top of the board.

Even though it’s still in relatively early stages, it’s exciting to see that a major app will be getting a widget after Microsoft opened the system up to developers late last year. Widgets seemed exciting when Windows 11 was announced nearly two years ago, but some people (myself included) haven’t really found it to be particularly useful.

It currently exists as a feed of “personalized content” displayed from Microsoft’s own apps. But it could earn a place on my taskbar if I’m suddenly able to add widgets from apps I actually use and pin them above the river of news stories and stocks. Hopefully, Messenger will be leading the way here for many other widgets to follow.