Windows

I have seen the light when it comes to Vista gadgets

As an integral part of the Windows Vista interface, Microsoft has added the Windows Sidebar feature to the Vista desktop. I am not normally one to put extra icons or, in this case, gadgets on my desktop; the cleaner my desktop the better. My desktop in the physical world is quite different -- it is a mess, but my Windows desktop is a model of efficiency with as few icons as possible. <br /><br /> So it is with some surprise that I find myself enjoying some of the gadgets you can download for the Vista Windows Sidebar. I even did a <a href="http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/howdoi/?p=137" target="_blank">How do I... blog post</a> explaining how to download, install, and tweak the options in gadgets, many of which are available for free from the Windows Live Web site.

As an integral part of the Windows Vista interface, Microsoft has added the Windows Sidebar feature to the Vista desktop. I am not normally one to put extra icons or, in this case, gadgets on my desktop; the cleaner my desktop the better. My desktop in the physical world is quite different -- it is a mess, but my Windows desktop is a model of efficiency with as few icons as possible.

So it is with some surprise that I find myself enjoying some of the gadgets you can download for the Vista Windows Sidebar. I even did a How do I... blog post explaining how to download, install, and tweak the options in gadgets, many of which are available for free from the Windows Live Web site.

Some of my favorite gadgets fall into the productivity realm like the calendar and clock gadgets. But I also find myself using the iTunes player to play music on my laptop while I surf the Internet for news, stock tips, and humorous You Tube videos. A few months ago I would have been adamantly opposed to placing extra stuff on my desktop.

So I am curious, are you using the Windows Sidebar feature in Vista? Do you like it? Do you hate it?

About

Mark Kaelin is a CBS Interactive Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He is the host for the Microsoft Windows and Office blog, the Google in the Enterprise blog, the Five Apps blog and the Big Data Analytics blog.

16 comments
erindshaw
erindshaw

I'm a fan of the clean desktop as well. The sidebar really helps tidy things up. I recommend App Launcher, System Control and Multi Meter for work and for play you can't go wrong with nanoTube, Voodoo Doll and the Wikipedia Search.

harrisw001
harrisw001

It could be useful but really is window dressing. It was fun for awhile like most toys

dankasnitzel
dankasnitzel

The last thing the average user needs on Vista is that goofy sidebar. Sure, widgets are cool (I suppose) if you have the extra horsepower to run them. Unfortunately, most people are blind-sided by the hardware requirements Vista has, typically basing their Vista computer purchase off of their experience with XP. It's only after getting the new Vista system that they realize that they have to turn on the "Best Performance" option to get Vista to work anything at all similar to XP. This also includes turning off the sidebar. Once that's done, you loose all of the cool "bling" that Aero is supposed to deliver. Granted the email and web-surf only people should be able to run it just fine. However, I believe the majority of users find themselves disappointed to have to turn it off. Pretty quickly, that sidebar becomes a distant memory, Aero is something you only read about and you find yourself wondering why you just had to have Vista in the first place. Warning1 Vista needs further user interaction to perform this function. allow - don't allow.

squidburns
squidburns

My list of gadgets from top to bottom. I set them up after install and they have been hanging around since. my sidebar o' gadgets: terror alert... every so often it moves up and down the sidebar but doesn't change color. weather - when it was 100 degrees outside the sidebar never rose above the low 90's. CPU and memory monitor - lights up so much it's actually rather entertaining. network monitor - since the beta patch I have finally seen the green line moving a couple of times when copying files across a network... hard drive indicator - windows explorer shows the drive with a red bar but my gadget shows a blue bar assuring me everything is just fine. calendar - I use the quite often... to find out what day it is... Calvin and Hobbes comic strip - never gets old. 'sticky' notepad - I used it a few times but to tell you the truth I'm stuck on notepad.exe. so in choosing between A, B and C I would have to say none of the above. the greatest improvement for my work flow is the check boxes. Never before have I been able to carve through and sort the endless piles stock photos so quickly. too bad all that time gained is lost ten times over when those files need to be copied somewhere. _s

Genera-nation
Genera-nation

you did not download the fix for the long file copy times - been around for a few months now!

seanknudsen
seanknudsen

They could implement it the way Apple does... none of it is visible unless you click a particular hot-key or center mouse click. That way, if you don't ever use them, you don't have to, and you'll never even notice them there... in other words, no sidebar by default. They've copied everything else from OSX, what's 1 more thing?

Genera-nation
Genera-nation

on what the hit to system resources is by having it running but never used. Actually, I wonder just how much resource it actually takes to run!!

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

I am running Vista on my personal laptop and on a test machine hear at the TechRepublic offices. Neither of which gets taxed for resources on a regular basis. Now, if I was running Vista on a gaming machine, I would be much concerned about what resources the sidebar was taking up.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I'm running Vista in a virtual machine for test purposes. Even so, the Gadget bar was the first thing I disabled. There's already a clock on the Taskbar, and the Gadget calendar didn't integrate with Outlook. I didn't see any gadget I felt was worth losing desktop real estate. I feel the same way about all the add-ons available for a personalized Google home page.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

I agree about the desktop real estate -- I like to have as much as I can. But I have the sidebar fade to the background when I run applications. The default may be to always be on top, but I never opt for that setting on any window. I want to control that.

Mylon2202
Mylon2202

I loved it at first. Downloaded and installed new gadgets. But after a while I found it really slowed down the startup and it uses too much system resources. So in the end the cons outweighed the pros for me. Even with a dual core laptop with 2.5 gigs of ram it seemed slow. Anyone else find this true?