It seems like only it was only a short time ago when the News and Interests feature was delivered through a monthly quality update to all Windows 10 devices. If you didn’t like it, you could turn it off via a policy.
Now with the leaked version of Windows 11, that News and Interests feature has been completely replaced by the new Windows widgets page. So I guess you really didn’t need to have the weather on the task bar, now it’s just an icon that brings up a similar page to what you would have seen in Windows 10:
(What was Microsoft’s big hurry to get this pushed out as a feature in a cumulative update, rather than waiting to ship it in its “final” form in Windows 11? We may never know.)
But the new Group Policy file, Feeds.admx/adml, is not present in this new Windows 11 release. So what happens if I add that file to Windows 11, set the policy, and then log out and back in again?
Nothing happens at all. The new widgets are still there. So the old policy has no effect on the new Windows gadgets. What if you revert to the old Start menu? No, still no effect. There is a setting to “Show Widgets button” that you can use once you have activated your OS (and yes, you can activate Windows 11 using a Windows 10 product key, at least with this 21996 build):
A quick check via Process Monitor and RegEdit confirms that this setting corresponds to HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionExplorerAdvancedTaskbarDa. If you set it to 0, the button disappears:
And since I’m deep into the task bar settings anyway, let’s look at one other one:
If you change that value from “Center” to “Left” (the only two available options), it changes the HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionExplorerAdvancedTaskbarAI registry value from 1 (centered) to 0 (left):
Not quite as good as policies, but at least there are per-user settings that you can leverage. The alignment and widgets settings take effect right away (even if you edit them in RegEdit); only the “show classic mode” setting requires logging out and back in again.
So let’s hope there are some efforts underway to add some group policy and MDM settings for these prior to the Windows 11 release. And maybe mourn the death of weather on the task bar? (It’s not too late for it to come back, so don’t celebrate yet.)