News and Interests on the Windows 10 taskbar is a new feature that is turned on automatically for all users of Windows 10, version 1909 and later. News and Interests is a little controversial because some people see it as more of a distraction than a useful tool. It shows the current weather next to the system tray in the taskbar. When you click on it, a panel opens displaying cards with news stories, stock, travel, and sports information.
Users can customize the experience to a certain extent, choosing which cards are displayed and selecting interests to tailor the news stories. News and Interests might be useful for employees who rely on the latest information for their work. For others, it could be seen as an unnecessary toy that is better disabled. Whatever you decide for your organization, News and Interests can be turned off using Group Policy or using Mobile Device Management (MDM).
If you are not familiar with Group Policy, you should make sure you look at the following two articles on Petri first:
Before you can configure News and Interests using Group Policy, you will need to make sure you have the feeds.admx file added to your local device or central store if you are using one. You can find feeds.admx, on any Windows 10 device that has the May 2021 cumulative update applied, in the C:\Windows\PolicyDefinitions folder. Alternatively, you can download feeds.admx from the Microsoft Download Center here as part of the updated Group Policy administrative templates for Windows 10 20H2.
To turn off News and Interests, you need to set ‘Enable news and interests on the taskbar’ to Disabled. You can find the setting in Group Policy under Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > News and interests.
Once the new Group Policy setting has applied to a device, the user will need to either sign out and sign back in for it to take effect. Or News and Interests will be disabled the next time the device is restarted.
For organizations using Mobile Device Management (MDM) to configure Windows 10 devices, there’s also the option to disable News and Interests using policy. The ‘Experience’ Configuration Service Provider (Policy CSP – Experience), includes a setting called ‘Experience/AllowNewsAndInterestsOnTheTaskbar’ that you can disable to turn off News and Interests. For more information on the Experience CSP, check out the documentation here.
News and Interests is implemented in Windows 11 as a new feature called Widgets. Or an old feature resurrected, depending on how you look at it. Once Windows 11 is officially announced and gets nearer to general availability, we’ll have more information on how organizations can manage Widgets in Windows 11. But for the time being, the current Group Policy and MDM controls in Windows 10 for News and Interests let organizations turn the feature off.