back to article Bing! Microsoft tests search box in the middle of Windows 11 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 …

  1. Stuart Castle Silver badge

    Bearing in mind the existing search box ALREADY searches the web, as well as your files/applications, it sounds like this new search box will have no real benefit to the user, as it's only offering a cut down form of what the desktop search offers.

    I can see the benefit for Microsoft, because it means Bing is placed in front of the users, but what is the benefit for the user?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      ask not what your operating system can do for you. ask what you can do for your operating system. ;p

      1. Trigonoceps occipitalis

        We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because we can.

        1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

          So what was or were "the other thing(s)"?

          1. Kane

            "So what was or were "the other thing(s)"?"

            Marilyn Monroe?

          2. Trigonoceps occipitalis

            "And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas?"

    2. Dave K

      Especially considering that most people have these things called "applications" open which hide the desktop behind other windows. Who is going to minimise things to get to a search box when they can just hit the Start button? Or better yet use the search box in their likely-already-open web browser?

      Maybe instead of adding ugly, intrusive and questionable "features" like this, they might want to dedicate some time to adding back features they've removed and which people are actually requesting? Like 90% of the missing taskbar functionality perhaps?

      1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

        They could possibly fix all of the Windows settings that still frequently drop back to their Windows 7 era versions because the current crop of idiotic shiny-fart UI "developers" only care about the top level and barely manage that in a consistent, coherent and useful manner?

        1. Morrie Wyatt

          Microsoft "Developers"

          Happens every time somebody lets them have a new box of crayons.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      holding back active desktop

      just give me my custom webpage desktop so I can javascript trail my pointer!

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A slot machine...

    ... that you'll always Win with bars.

  3. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Punishing the users for choosing windows

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


    You can almost see the cogs in the developers' minds turning. Now let's think, what part of the screen is most likely to be covered by an app?

    And in order to maximise user-annoyance, that's where to place a new interactive text input box.

    Dilbert is supposed to be satire, not an example to follow

    1. Adrian 4

      Re: Punishing the users for choosing windows

      'and, as ever, the company is keen for feedback on its ideas.'

      Really ? They might be keen to hear (ie have people engage) but actually listening would surely be a first.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Punishing the users for choosing windows

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

      It's never this simple with Microsoft.

      The more annoying, idiotic and unnecessary a proposed new feature happens to be, the higher the probability that it will make it into production. Because user experience.

      > And in order to maximise user-annoyance [ ... ]

      I think it should pop up in random places on the screen. Mandatory side-effects: must steal focus, and must be modal.

      Also: please fuck up the geometry placement of this window, so that, at random times, only a fraction of it is displayed on screen. Thereby making the OK/Cancel buttons inaccessible. Hitting Enter instead of mouse click on OK/Cancel should be disabled and trigger the annoying Microsoft "Bling" sound.

      After 93,581,733 bug reports filed, issue a Microsoft KB entry promising a "fix" in an upcoming update that never materializes. As a temporary workaround, offer a very complicated sequence of Registry editing steps that result in this window being replaced with Microsoft Edge opening a maximized full-screen window, landing on a page offering various life and wellness advice sections, as well as shopping opportunity recommendations based on your likes.

      Microsoft wanted feedback. This is my feedback.

      1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

        Re: Punishing the users for choosing windows

        That's not feedback, that's prediction

        Now where are we with the retarded Microsoft idea that Notepad and similar near critical tools will have to be vomited out of the wretched Microsoft Store... yet Microsoft's braindead support MVP team only state that this is the option, that it's for our benefit and updates to said core applications couldn't possibly be deployed using Windows Update. Oh, and the new Apps require administrator level access to deploy, but that's fine because every single user in every single organisation has local administrator access don't they? Contrary to every single piece of security best practice but still assumed and almost enforced by the Muppets of Microsoft.

  4. Totally not a Cylon

    IE4 and Active Dekstop

    I actually liked the Active Desktop which came with IE4.......

    BUT, my machine was quite powerful and wasn't on a network.....

    1. mark l 2 Silver badge

      Re: IE4 and Active Dekstop

      Active desktop and that side bar widget thing that came on vista were the first things I got rid of after a clean install of Windows.

      Not that I stuck with Windows very long, i ditched it and went back to XP until 7 came along a few years later.

      1. Kane

        Re: IE4 and Active Dekstop

        "Not that I stuck with Windows very long, i ditched it and went back to XP until 7 came along a few years later."

        You ditched Windows and went back to Windows until Windows came along?

        Did I read that right?

    2. Flightmode

      Re: IE4 and Active Dekstop

      I'd forgotten about this until now, but at one point I needed to monitor two metrics from a networking device and perform a certain action when they went "out-of-profile". This was long before the days of self-healing networks and Salt, so I wrote a Perl script that fetched the two values with SNMP and published them to a simple web page in white 4pt MS Sans Serif on the same blue background that was on the rest of my desktop. When a value required my attention, it turned bold and red but still the same size. I created a single section on my Active Desktop, like literally 100x20px, right above the clock in my systray. Not intrusive in the least, but exceptionally useful!

    3. JimboSmith Silver badge

      Re: IE4 and Active Dekstop

      Back in the day we were testing a couple of webcams. They were wired not wireless, of the take a picture every n seconds variety and by today’s standards very low resolution. Anyway they were set up on the internal network and pointed out of a window. Everyone who knew the IP address could access them at work and view the street or the sky depending on whether they were pointing up or down. Then someone turned one of them round one night so it pointed at the desk of one of the blokes who sat near the cameras. One woman had one of her computers with the camera’s webpage set as her wallpaper. She’d also set the refresh rate on the camera to 1 second to get maximum coverage. She really fancied the guy and didn’t have the guts to ask him out. When he found out* he refused to go for a drink with her because he unsurprisingly found her behaviour creepy.

      Still, the one second refresh rate worked really well and that camera was decided to have superior optics to the other.

      *Logged in to the camera one morning and saw his own face instead of the sky. Then tracked those computers viewing the camera feed and after finding only one, confronted her.


    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: IE4 and Active Dekstop

      Me too! But the fact that I liked it was because I was able to create a website for my desktop! Not the search feature...I actually recommended the "Active Desktop" feature for this reason.. again... not the search feature.

  5. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "while Microsoft plays with the concept"

    Microsoft : playing with every single concept it can think of apart from making its OS streamlined, out of the way, functional and fast.

    1. theOtherJT Silver badge

      Re: "while Microsoft plays with the concept"

      Well, that's the problem, isn't it? If it was all of those things you'd never notice it, and if you don't notice it, how can it sell you things?

      MS have worked out that Windows isn't going to make them any money. Not in that nice steady-stream drip-drip-drip that big companies like these days. The idea of just paying a hundred dollars or so for something and then you - horror of horrors - don't pay for it ever again must keep their financials people awake at night in terror.

      They're just desperate to find some way to make Windows "Relevant"(tm) - you know - get it all up in people's faces so it can extract some more money from them.

    2. Piro Silver badge

      Re: "while Microsoft plays with the concept"

      Don't forget elegant and consistent.

      It seems since Windows 8, they've been trying to make Windows, and all their own applications, look and work as different as possible, with countless styles for context menus, title bars, menus and whatever else.

      I'm still in disbelief over the control panel debacle. I thought in Windows 8 it was placeholder, but no, after many years, we've still got two control panels. Everyone hates the new one, Microsoft, scrap it.

      1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

        Re: "while Microsoft plays with the concept"

        It's also absolutely critical to merge the OS rendering of the UI into applications, and to not let the fucking OS render the UI as it's meant to.

        How many people are apparently clamouring for "dark mode" applications. Load up fucking Windows 95 and change the desktop colours done. A well written application will use the System Colours, which are controlled by the Operating System and the user. A badly written application hard codes the colours.

        And now we have lots of applications with dedicated "dark mode" interfaces, all doing things in different ways.

  6. localzuk Silver badge

    Desperate to get Bing users

    This is yet another attempt to get people to use Bing. I'm honestly surprised they've not been sued for the same old nonsense it keeps doing, with the existing start menu search box - leveraging its dominance in desktop computing to force people onto its other services.

    This box? If you can't swap out the search source? Would pretty much guarantee that competitors lodge complaints.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Desperate to get Bing users

      Maybe they need to start poisoning search results like Google now does

    2. Snake Silver badge

      Re: Desperate to get Bing users

      A lot more people use Bing than you might realize, as Bing powered DuckDuckGo.

      And DDG's, and therefore undoubtedly Bing's, relevance simply SUCKS. I use DDG almost exclusively and am constantly irritated and put-out by miserable search results. But the alternative is using Slurp Inc, and I am simply not.

      1. Adrian 4

        Re: Desperate to get Bing users

        I thought DDG was a meta-engine and used several sources ?

        I agree with you about result quality, though. I use DDG because it's the default in Brave, but if I don't get a good result I soon try google instead.

        1. Snake Silver badge

          Re: Desperate to get Bing users

          AFIAK Bing is the largest API data source (Bing Maps is DDG default for that functionality). Also, Bing supplies all the ads.

      2. Ace2 Silver badge

        Re: Desperate to get Bing users

        Do you use Google much though? Sometimes when Bing fails me I fall back to it in a private window. The last year or two it’s been mostly SEO spam and other junk - it’s been a long time since they found something Bing couldn’t.


    3. Tubz Silver badge

      Re: Desperate to get Bing users

      Probably link it to Edge search preferences to get around competition complaints, not like they hide the option anymore, like they use to do.

  7. Old Used Programmer

    The more I read about Win 11....

    ....the less I want to have anything to do with it.

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: The more I read about Win 11....

      My desktop system, which runs W10 and Debian very happily, keeps telling me that the hardware isn't adequate for W11. Long may it remain so...

  8. Natalie Gritpants Jr

    I assume you don't get a choice of what account to use with the search.

  9. heyrick Silver badge

    A search box in the middle of the screen... mean where newly loaded applications tend to want to open their windows?

    Yeah, uh, okay.

  10. ecofeco Silver badge

    Typical MS

    MS: "Look let's move this thing."

    Everyone else: "But why?"

    MS: "?"

    A uniform user interface is pretty much set these days. Just leave it alone MS. Stop rearranging the deck chairs. Tell marketing to go pound rocks with their foreheads.

    1. cb7

      Re: Typical MS

      MS: Because that's where Spolight search puts the search box on macOS (albeit on top of open apps). But shhh. Don't tell anyone. We don't want anyone to think we've run out of ideas and can only poorly copy Apple now.

  11. fidodogbreath

    "I see you hate the machine that goes Bing!"

  12. skeptical i

    your cheating hearts (or blackjack or rummy or ...)

    re: "Microsoft warned that games using anti-cheat software might cause the OS to fall over."

    I'm sure there's a technical reason for this (some bit of code that stops the cheating gunks up Win11's innards), but it's still ... interesting ... that Win11 would seem to endorse cheating. Sorry, gaming is not my world and maybe I'm missing something.

    1. PhilBuk

      Re: your cheating hearts (or blackjack or rummy or ...)

      Probably Denuvo. Games using this DRM/Anti-Cheat would not run under W11 for a while. Looks like the tablesa have been turned.


  13. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    it appears that Microsoft hasn't given up on the idea

    Or, more likely, have just "discovered" it. The Active Desktop/IE4 monstrosity was so long ago, no one in the dev teams has ever heard of it. So, it's an "all new" idea that some new young dev thought sounded cool and convinced the other new young devs to back them up. Management changes often enough that the PHBs have no idea what it is, but it sounds cool and they never heard of Active Desktop either because they were still doing their MBAs back then.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: it appears that Microsoft hasn't given up on the idea

      how long has it been now? a couple decades? haha I do miss the custom webpages I made though.. like javascript mouse cursurs traillingg hahaha weeee!

  14. ScrappyLaptop2

    It's about time they (re)invented Active Desktop

    But if I recall the reason it was pulled was because it turned out to be a security disaster to integrate a web browser with the desktop?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It's about time they (re)invented Active Desktop

      I know but it was sooo cool hahah. I'm sure they ironed those things out by now right??

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The first thing I did when my new Windows 11 Laptop arrived

    was to uninstall all the M$ Trial stuff and AntiVirus infections that came with it.

    And then I setup Local User accounts, so I don't have it phone home to the M$ Stasi every time I try to login.

    See "How to create a local account on Windows 11" in: How to share a Windows 11 PC with other home users.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: The first thing I did when my new Windows 11 Laptop arrived

      That's what it's all about, if you scroll down that page and look at the options everyone is herded into an MS account, even children. Age and family relationship known by MS.

      Local accounts only available through hoop jumping... how long until it becomes a business-only feature?

      1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

        Re: The first thing I did when my new Windows 11 Laptop arrived

        how long until it becomes a business-only feature?
        It pretty much already is. Installing a system without being forced to supply a Microsoft 365 user account is near impossible and the braindead fuckwads at Microsoft then set this user account to have local administrator access... because security and best practice don't matter of course and the braindead devs and marketing idiots at Microsoft have neither a clue nor a concept of security (nor privacy of course)

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hopefully Active Desktop gets fully played out...

    I liked the fact that we were able to create WEBSITES on our desktop back in the days. Just search is redundant a bit...

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