Bing! Microsoft tests search box in the middle of Windows 11 desktop

Attempt to be interactive meets cries of 'Someone dumped a text box right in the center of my desktop!'


Microsoft has rolled out an Insider Build threatening "interactive content on the Windows desktop."

The update arrived in build 25120 on the Windows Insider Dev Channel in the form of a search box on the desktop. Tap in a query, select from the drop-down list of (Bing-powered) results and a browser fires up with the requested content.

It's a slightly odd little feature. Windows already has a built-in system search lurking in the Start Menu and not all users are going to be pleased about having a web search box plastered over their desktop of choice. Thankfully, it is possible to turn off the text box, and not all Insiders will get access to the new functionality while Microsoft plays with the concept.

This being the Dev Channel, there is also every chance the test feature will never see the light of day.

It all feels a little familiar, and reminded The Reg of Microsoft's Active Desktop adventure in the late '90s. Active Desktop turned up as part of Internet Explorer 4 and was also included in Windows 98 from launch. An excellent way to slow down one's computer, the technology permitted the desktop to be replaced by HTML (and other active) content. It never really caught on and was quietly ditched in favour of Windows Vista's Sidebar and the Windows Desktop Gadgets of Windows 7.

While the latter didn't fit with the Live Tile world of Windows 8, it appears that Microsoft hasn't given up on the idea. Hence the arrival of the test of "lightweight interactive content on the Windows desktop."

A restart is required if you're one of the Insiders lucky enough to take part in Microsoft's "exploration" and, as ever, the company is keen for feedback on its ideas.

Insiders on Twitter were less than enthused.

As well as the search box, this build also adds ARM64 devices back into the mix, and ISOs have been released.

The Suggested Actions feature continues to linger, with fixes around date and time formats and "overall performance and reliability" and there are bugfixes around Settings and the Task Manager. Microsoft warned that games using anti-cheat software might cause the OS to fall over. ®

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