Microsoft is reportedly testing a floating widget feature for the Windows Start Menu in the latest beta version of the Windows 11 operating system. According to a report by the Android Authority, the new feature will be called “Start Menu Companions” and is already available for select users through Windows 11 beta build 26212 for testing. 

These Start Menu Companions are apps that provide “Adaptive Cards” that are displayed on a “Floating island” alongside the Start Menu, the report adds. Microsoft allows users to configure these Companion widgets from the Start option on the Personalisation page within the Settings menu. As per the report, this section will also feature a list of installed Companion widgets along with toggles to enable or disable the floating widget. Every installed widget in this list will feature a link to the provider’s website where the user will be presented with customisation options.

The Start Menu Companions will function similarly to the existing web-centric Windows 11 widgets and the developer will have full control over how it appears on the user’s desktop. 

The feature is currently in its testing phase within early beta builds and is only available for select eligible users. Microsoft has not officially announced the roll-out plan for the floating Start menu widgets and it is entirely possible that the feature never makes it to the consumer front. 

Last week, Microsoft announced its Xbox mobile store, a gaming store that it said will be “independent of the policies of closed ecosystem stores.” Scheduled for launch in July this year, the Xbox mobile store will initially feature smartphone games from Microsoft and its various gaming studios. However, while speaking at the Bloomberg Technology Summit, Xbox president Sarah Bond said the company will extend the store to partners as well. The upcoming Xbox mobile store will work in the form of a web client and will likely require a side loading option for the games to run natively on the devices.

First Published: May 13 2024 | 4:45 PM IST

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