Microsoft is beta testing one of the biggest changes to the Windows taskbar since the introduction of Windows 10. As part of the latest Dev Channel beta build, the company is introducing a news and interests section in the taskbar, soon giving Windows users quick access to a feed of dynamic content throughout the day.
Currently only available by opting any Windows PC into the Windows Insider program, this change is all about getting content that is more relevant to you. According to Microsoft, you’ll be able to summon an “integrated feed” in the taskbar with information that’s tailored to you, eliminating the need to switch between a PC and a phone to stay up to date with the news.
As seen above, the feature works pretty seamlessly. You’ll just need to hover your mouse and click on an icon in the taskbar next to the system tray, containing the weather. This will then show a pop-up “hub” with news stories and other interests.
This initial version has various Start Menu-like “tiles” in the hub for the weather, sports, and top news stories. Microsoft says you’ll be able to access content from “over 4,500 brands” including websites like The New York Times, as well as the BBC. There are even live weather maps, too.
The feature is currently only available for Windows Insider beta testers who are enrolled in the Dev Channel, and it will require a reboot to appear. If current rumors hold up as true, it is likely to come to everyone else in a future Windows 10 release. The “Cobalt” update scheduled for the second half of this year. However, since the feature is in the Dev channel, it’s not tied to a specific Windows release, so it’s not guaranteed to appear outside of the beta versions of Windows.
Just like the Start Menu, this news and interests section feed can be fully personalized. You can select more options and then choose more stories like this or fewer stories like this to see the things you care about in your feed. There’s also an option to react to emojis.
As for the privacy of the feed, Microsoft says there will be quick access to the Microsoft Privacy Dashboard, which will help you limit tracking from advertisers and third parties. The feature can also be turned off by right-clicking on the Taskbar if it is not needed.
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