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Microsoft Bringing Search Highlights Feature to Windows 10 and Windows 11 Users

Microsoft announced this week that it has already started a phased rollout of its new "search highlights" feature for Windows 10 users, which also will be coming shortly to Windows 11 users.

Search highlights shows related content for a search when a user hovers or clicks on an illustration that appears within the Windows search box, which is located on the Windows taskbar at the bottom of the screen. The search highlights feature will show things like images associated with a search, as well as "daily content like word of the day, Microsoft Rewards offers, trending searches, and more," according to this Windows 10 Insider program post.

If a user is signed in with a work or school Microsoft account, then the search highlights feature will show "the latest updates from your organization and suggested people, files, and more," the Windows 10 Insider post added.

The search highlights feature is now starting to appear on some Windows 10 devices that installed the March monthly quality update. It's a phased release, though, so there's no exact release date specified by Microsoft.

On the Windows 11 side, Microsoft described rolling out search highlights to Windows 11 users "starting next week." That description comes in a Windows 11 Insider post, though, which is about preview releases, so it is not clear if Microsoft means that it is rolling out the feature to production environments next week.

Search highlights may seem like it's a consumer-oriented feature, but Microsoft plans to deliver it first to organizations. Here's how that notion was expressed:

Search highlights will begin rolling out to Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) joined and workplace joined machines in select tenant groups first. General availability, including domain joined machines, will arrive in the coming months.

End users will be able to turn search highlights off or on. They can access it by right-mouse-button clicking on the taskbar, which gives them an option to either select or clear the feature.

IT pros have some policy controls over the coming search highlights for Windows 10 and Windows 11. They can make a Group Policy change to disable it, for instance, but the feature will be enabled if it's not configured by policy. Another approach is to use "Administrative Templates (.admx) and Group Policy Settings Reference for Windows 10, version 20H2," available from the Microsoft Download Center.

Organizations can make policy configuration changes to disable or enable the search highlights feature using Microsoft Endpoint Manager as well. Moreover, "there are additional controls available in the Microsoft 365 admin center," Microsoft indicated.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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