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Latest Windows 11 build shares desktop real estate with, er, Spotify

Third party widgets are on the march in latest Windows Preview, which fixes some Arm64 FAILs too

Microsoft's latest Windows 11 preview build has added a Spotify widget, more evidence of the software giant's increasing openness to third-party presences in its flagship OS.

Widgets display dynamic content from apps and services on the tray on a user's Windows desktop. They can be manipulated in myriad ways – including pinned or unpinned, resized, and customized – and are designed to reflect the user's interests.

Until recently, the bulk of the widgets for Windows 11 related to Microsoft's own apps. However, in late January the desktop OS titan announced a preview version of a widget for Meta's Messenger, an instant messaging app and platform the originally started life in 2008 at Facebook Chat.

The latest philosophy is coded into the Preview Build 25284 for the Windows 11 Insider program's Dev Channel, a facility that allows developers to try features and offer feedback to Microsoft.

The latest Windows 11 Insider Preview Build 25290, added widgets for Spotify, the popular music and content streaming service. Microsoft's own Phone Link, an app that connects Windows 10 to Android devices, also debuts as a W11 widget.

Microsoft made third party widgets possible in November 2022 when it released the Windows App Software Development Kit (SDK) 1.2 that included tools to build widgets.

Now with Messenger and Spotify widgets in play, users "should expect to see additional new widgets as more developers create and release widgets for their apps," Amanda Langowski, principal product manager for the Windows Insider Program, and Brandon LeBlanc, senior program manager at Microsoft, wrote in a blog post this week.

Developers can access the widgets on the Microsoft Store.

Putting them to work might not always be trouble free. Langowski and LeBlanc wrote that Microsoft is aware of some issues related to third party widgets. Occasionally they disappear from the widgets board but can be added back by clicking "refresh" or re-pinning them from the widgets picker.

Widgets can also be unintentionally unpinned if a developer uses their Microsoft account to sign-in multiple Windows 11 devices.

Microsoft is also experimenting with the Start menu, despite recent tweaks irritating testers by slipping in promos for Redmond's own cloudy services. In October 2022's Preview Build 25227 2022, some developers began seeing badging on their user profile, which notified them of particular actions that they needed to take, an initial step that ended a month later.

Now Microsoft is trying another tack, this time showing two new systems. Some developers in the Windows Insider program will see a relatively simple treatment listing suggestions like backing up files, change account settings, lock, and sign out.

The second treatment is more detailed, with descriptions of such tasks as backing up files and the ability to start the backup immediately or to do it later.

This latest build runs on Arm64-powered devices thanks to Microsoft fixing an issue that saw such machines to fail to resume from sleep or hibernation mode when running January 2023's Windows Insider Preview Build 25281.

Some systems hung at the Windows boot logo.

At the time, Microsoft also knew of an issue that broke the Windows Hello facial recognition feature on Arm64 PCs. The workaround was entering a PIN instead of smiling nicely at a PC camera. ®

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