Vista Gadgets and Yahoo Widgets

By Jason Cross  |  Posted 2006-10-19 Print this article Print

Feature: Mini desktop apps like Konfabulator, DesktopX, and OS X Dashboard widgets have been around for years, but Vista's Sidebar will introduce them to millions of users. We tour Vista's Gadgets and the Yahoo Widget Engine. (ExtremeTech)

Some call them "widgets," some call them "gadgets." In the end, theyre all really the same thing: little dynamic applets that run on your desktop. The idea has been around for ages, and relatively popular "widget engines" have existed for several years. Stardocks DesktopX product allows for the production and consumption of desktop applets it calls DesktopX Objects, but users can export those into little .exe files called Widgets that can be used by anyone without running DesktopX—with one major caveat. Though DesktopX doesnt need to be running, it does need to be installed.
Recently, Stardock enabled the ability for users of DesktopX Pro to export their own Widgets/Objects as "Gadgets," which are stand-alone desktop applets that run on anyones PC, without even having DesktopX installed. Confused yet?
Dont worry, because were not going to focus on Stardocks solution here today. DesktopX is a full desktop skinning program that, though reasonably priced, is not free. It offers major functions beyond running widgets or gadgets. The main takeaway point is this—little desktop applet engines have been around on the PC since 2003. Click here to read about security fixes for Apples widgets. On Apples OS X, the time frame looks similar. Konfabulator released a widget engine for OS X early in 2003, and released it for Windows late the following year. Konfabulators Mac widget engine market sort of dried up when Apple introduced Dashboard into OS 10.4 (Tiger). The feature, which uses little applets known also as "widgets," is strikingly similar to Konfabulators product. Konfabulator was bought by Yahoo last summer, and its software renamed the Yahoo Widget Engine. What does all this have to do with Windows Vista? One of Vistas most visible new features is the Sidebar. Annoyance to some (typically those with smaller 4:3 monitors) and delight to others (those with high-res or widescreen displays), the Sidebar is going to be the first introduction to gadgets/widgets for millions of PC users. Today, well take a look at Yahoo Widget Engine for all you Windows XP users, and discuss the features and potential of Vistas Sidebar Gadgets for those looking forward to upgrading their OS. Read the full story on ExtremeTech: Vista Gadgets and Yahoo Widgets Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news in desktop and notebook computing.
Jason Cross Jason was a certified computer geek at an early age, playing with his family's Apple II when he was still barely able to write. It didn't take long for him to start playing with the hardware, adding in 80-column cards and additional RAM as his family moved up through Apple II+, IIe, IIgs, and eventually the Macintosh. He was sucked into Intel based side of the PC world by his friend's 8088 (at the time, the height of sophisticated technology), and this kicked off a never-ending string of PC purchases and upgrades.

Through college, where he bounced among several different majors before earning a degree in Asian Studies, Jason started to pull down freelance assignments writing about his favorite hobby—,video and computer games. It was shortly after graduation that he found himself, a thin-blooded Floridian, freezing his face off at Computer Games Magazine in Vermont, where he founded the hardware and technology section and built it up over five years before joining the ranks at ExtremeTech and moving out to beautiful northern California. When not scraping up his hands on the inside of a PC case, you can invariably find Jason knee-deep in a PC game, engrossed in the latest console title, or at the movie theater.


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