Like it or not, Microsoft is bringing a new taskbar feature called “Search Highlights” to Windows 10 after beginning to test it with Windows 11 users last week.
Search highlights is Microsoft’s effort to make certain content more discoverable, but it hasn’t clarified what the source of that content is.
As with the feature in Windows 11, the Windows 10’s taskbar search box and search home pane will now feature content “including fun illustrations, which help you discover more, be connected, and stay productive. Search highlights will present notable and interesting moments of what’s special about each day – like holidays, anniversaries, and other educational moments in time both globally and in your region.”
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The feature is rolling out alongside the release of Windows 10 21H2 Build 19044.1618 (KB5011543) to the Release Preview Channel for Insiders. This channel includes features that will likely turn up in mainstream releases in the near future.
The Search history feature is rolling out gradually with a “phased and measured approach” and will be broadly available in coming months, Microsoft says in a blogpost.
As ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley noted of the feature in Windows 11: “This sounds like MSN-fueled content to me, plus some of the type of Bing daily image functionality.”
Microsoft seems to confirm this in its explanation for what additional content about moments can be searched.
“Explore additional content in search home related to each moment, with daily content like word of the day, Microsoft Rewards offers, trending searches, and more.”
Windows 10 users can shut off these new “Search Highlights” by right clicking on the taskbar > Search > select/clear “Show search highlights”. (On Windows 11, the toggle is in Privacy & Security within the Settings app.) Admins can shut this off for users via the Microsoft 365 Admin Center. Microsoft has more information on how admins can control this.
There’s a slightly different organization-focused experience of ‘Search history’ for those signing in with a work or school Microsoft Account. Search in these settings focuses on the organization’s files and contacts.
“Search highlights will feature the latest updates from your organization and suggested people, files, and more. Explore files that may be of interest to you or browse through your organization’s people chart. As always, just start typing to find everything related to your organization, right at your fingertips using Search.”
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Microsoft has been working on fixes for numerous Search bugs since releasing Windows 11, but the feature is still a bit unstable. The Search history feature may just add more clutter to a feature that could be more useful once the bugs are ironed out.
Among fixes and improvements in this Windows 10 build, Microsoft notes it has fixed one issue that prevents signing into Outlook and Teams on an Android device.
“We fixed an issue that prevents Android device users from signing in to some Microsoft applications, such as Microsoft Outlook or Microsoft Teams. This issue occurs after rolling over token signing and decrypting certificates, resetting a user’s password, or when an administrator has revoked refresh tokens,” Microsoft explains.