Microsoft is currently building a new Spotlight-like launcher app for Windows 10. Designed to replace the existing Win + R shortcut, the new launcher will include options to quickly search apps and files across Windows and support for plugins like calculators, dictionaries, and search engines.
The software giant has been working on the launcher since January, and an initial public beta is planned for May. An early version of the launcher will support basic search tasks that are typically handled by the built-in Windows Start menu search functionality. But there are plans to make this a more powerful launcher that’s similar to Alfred on macOS and more functional than Apple’s Spotlight search.
For most Windows users the Start menu search will be enough, as it acts as a basic launcher of sorts. Power users demand more, and the built-in search doesn’t include plugins or the ability to add custom web searches, snippets, and more. The Start menu search also forces you into Bing search results and opens the Edge browser for any web queries.
Microsoft is working with the open-source community and apps like Wox to integrate plugins. UX designer Niels Laute created a concept design for the launcher back in February, and Microsoft is adopting some of Laute’s code so the launcher has a modern design.
It’s one of many PowerToys that Microsoft is actively developing, and Microsoft is looking for help naming the app. Microsoft originally brought back PowerToys last year to allow anyone to improve Windows 10 for power users, and the first set arrived in September. Microsoft originally introduced the concept of PowerToys back in Windows 95. The apps were a quick way for Windows engineers to test prototype features, and Microsoft soon packaged some of the best ones into PowerToys bundles.
The current Win + R functionality is outdated and used by Windows power users to launch cmd prompts, regedit, powershell instances, and even shortcuts to areas in Windows like the Control Panel. This new launcher will support all of the same commands that Run does currently in Windows, but the hope is that it will be a powerful alternative that the community of Windows power users can build on.