Windows 11’s Start Menu could soon show information in a floating sidebar

Microsoft introduced support for what it calls Start Menu Companions in a recent Windows 11 beta build. This feature adds a sidebar to the Start Menu that display information, for instance from widgets.

The last major overhaul of the Windows Start menu launched with the release of Windows 11. Microsoft removed several features of the Windows 10 Start menu, including support for live tiles and customization options. It did introduce the split design that shows pinned apps at the top and recommendations at the bottom.

I called the Windows 11 Start menu barely usable back in 2021 when it first launched. While Microsoft did improve it, some criticism still stands to this day.

Start Menu Companions in Windows 11 Start

Windows 11 Start Menu Companion

Twitter user Albacore discovered the new feature in Windows 11 Beta build 26212. A screenshot attached to the Twitter message shows weather and stock market information in the floating sidebar.

He writes: “It’s time for the Start menu to become extensible!?
Windows 11 ? build 26212 quietly introduces support for “Start Menu Companions.” They’re apps that provide Adaptive Cards which display on a floating island (docked ?? or ??) alongside Start
Used Widgets data as a quick demo ?”

Windows 11 users may configure the feature under Settings > Personalization > Start. There they find a list of companions that they may display on the left or right side of the Windows 11 Start menu.

Start Menu Companions Windows 11

There appears be an option to turn off the feature entirely. When turned off, the Start Menu shows up as before when activated.

Still in development

The Start Companion feature is still in development. There is a chance that it changes before release and there is even a chance that it gets pulled by Microsoft before it lands in stable versions of Windows 11.

The adaptive cards that testers can display are limited and look like a mini-version of the Widgets panel.  When it launches, it could even replace widgets entirely for some users.

Support for third-party adaptive cards could improve the reach and usefulness of the feature. Microsoft hoped the same for Widgets, but support for third-party widgets is fairly limited still at this point.

Only a handful of widgets can be installed from the Microsoft Store at this point, and they are pretty basic.

Closing Words

Start Menu Companions is an optional feature that users can turn off. Most will probably do that, unless remarkable adaptive cards are unveiled at one point that add value for the user.

Maybe a list of recent downloads, run programs, or notifications could be displayed there.

With Microsoft, there is also the chance of ads making an appearance eventually. See how to turn off Start Menu ads in Windows 11 for instructions to disable those.

All in all, this feature has to proof itself before it could become a truly useful expansion of the Start menu of the operating system.

If you ask me, I’d like to see the recommended section moved there entirely.

What do you think about the new feature? Anything that you have in mind that you would find useful to display there?


Windows 11's Start Menu could soon show information in a floating sidebar

Article Name

Windows 11’s Start Menu could soon show information in a floating sidebar


The Windows 11 Start Menu could soon display a floating sidebar that displays adaptive cards, such as weather or stock information.


Martin Brinkmann


Ghacks Technology News



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