Disable and configure Windows 10 feature News and interests

Windows[German]Microsoft has introduced the "News and interests" feature in Windows 10 (first in version 21H1, later it was backported in 20H2) via update. An icon in the taskbar can be used to display the weather forecast as well as a feed with current headlines from news magazines. Since there are discussions within my German blog, I take up the topic and show how the display can be deactivated, for example.


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The "News and interests" feature  has already been tested with Windows Insiders since the beginning of 2021. It has been introduced here by Microsoft. Since I no longer addresses Insider Preview news in my blog in the meantime, I have not covered the topic so far. Personally, I also don't think, that it a exiting feature. But Microsoft has begun a broader rollout of this feature and it is now available for all.

Feature comes with Update KB5003214

Within my blogs I read user comments complaining, that the feature is not available. However, Microsoft said in April that the feature would be rolled out in waves. With the May 26, 2021 preview update KB5003214 for Windows 10 version 2004, 20H2, 21H1 and Windows Server counterparts, the "News and interests" feature is available to all users of those OS versions. I had referred to this update in the blog post Windows 10 2004-21H1: Preview Updates (05/25/021).

News and interests on the Windows taskbar
News and interests on the Windows taskbar, Source: Microsoft

Once the update in question is installed, an icon with the current weather appears in the notification area of the taskbar (see the image above). If the user clicks on the image, the weather data and headlines can be displayed.

Users complains about that feature

On Facebook, German blog reader Lutz S. contacted me via direct message and vented about the new feature that came to his system via update. He wrote:


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Over the weekend, I've updated all my Win10 clients (Pro) to the current build 21H1. This went – to my surprise – flawless. Yesterday, MS released two cumulative updates, which I had just installed "for fun" times on my test client. To test the current build 19043.1023 KB5003254 – that takes care of the NET.Framework 3.5 and 4.8. Everything is fine!

KB5003214 is an update for the 21H1 – and after the installation I was suddenly a bit astonished! After the necessary reboot suddenly something new presented itself to me on the taskbar! A small "gadget" with current weather and various headlines. The last time I saw something like this was under Vista with the "desktop gadgets".

For me completely superfluous! Especially since my Outlook (O365) also has appropriate weather information, but there very moderate, that does not bother me. However, I find it less "funny" when MS believes to clutter the taskbar without being asked! Especially on a laptop, where little space is available anyway! I also haven't found a way to turn off this pointless thing completely. Just two screenshots. Maybe you, or other blog readers, can say something about this?

One thing I forgot. The "gadget" seems to need an active MS account to work. I have prevented this with me! Since I use a private server with AD, DNS, DHCP etc. But I'm really curious about other info / messages and opinions of the community. With the "gadget" I will deal with the weekend times closer.

And in the comments within my German blog, someone is also annoyed that the feature requires or opens the Microsoft Edge, and not the default browser. To edit settings, you have to log in to MSN, but there the management seems to be server-side. The user also complains that despite deactivating the news topics in the settings, news still appears.

Issues with this new feature

Addendum: Since the original post was published, it has become apparent that this new feature may causes serious trouble and contains bugs. In the German blog post (English will be linked in the article later) Windows 10 21H1: Geisteranzeige in Taskleiste nach Update KB5003214? I addressed problems with the taskbar due to this new feature.

While researching for the article about issues with the taskbar, I came across this article from Windows Latest. They report three problems at once: The display of "News and Weather" in the taskbar is said to appear blurry for some users.

Also, it seems that the feed only works when the taskbar is pinned to the bottom of the desktop. The third problem with the taskbar feed is that the widget occasionally goes on strike and displays an empty window or a loading animation.

How to get rid of the taskbar entry?

The question that came up is: how to hide the display of News and interests in the taskbar? After all, there is no way to prevent uninstallation. But you can use the steps below:

1. Click on the taskbar with the right mouse button and wait until the context menu shown below appears.

News and interest
News and interests context menu on Windows taskbar, Source: Bleeping Computes

2. Select the News and interests and within the submenu Turn off.

To reactivate it, follow the same steps and then choose Show icon and text from the News and interests submenu.

The context menu contains other commands, such as Open on hover, which can be used to customize the behavior of the taskbar item. The option causes the extended display to appear already when hovering over it with the mouse. The colleagues at Bleeping Computer has also some articles about that topic here and here.

Disable via GPO

In Windows 10 Pro/Enterprise, there are various group policies to disable or configure the feature. Microsoft has published the article Group configuration: news and interests on the Windows taskbar explaining some more details and outlining the Group policies (GPOs). To manage news and interests on the taskbar with Group Policy, launch gpedit.msc as an administrator (run as administrator) und navigate to:

Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > News and interests > Enable news and interests on the taskbar

Windows 10 GPO zur Aktivierung von Neuigkeiten und interessante Themen

Where is all this documented?

Beside Microsoft's techcommunity article linked above, tensforum has also a couple of hints. The Windows Club has also outlined the registry settings to hide/enable the new feature within the taskbar. Also German site deskmodder.de documents the stuff within this article.


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4 Responses to Disable and configure Windows 10 feature News and interests

  1. EP says:

    guenni

    Susan of Askwoody has a reg file that disables the "News and Interests" feature for Win10 home users (who installed the KB5003214 or higher update) on this recent page:

    https://www.askwoody.com/2021/ms-defcon-4-its-quiet-out-there/

  2. Yanta says:

    Is this "feature" an uninstallable package?

    Disabling things doesn't always stop the app doing questionable things in the background. If you just disable this – basically turning off the icon on the taskbar – is the app completely disabled, as in no activity whatsoever? I'd rather uninstall the feature if that's possible.

    • guenni says:

      Currently you can just uninstall the latest CU – but in future, it's no more uninstallable.

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