PowerToys are probably some of the most popular add-ons to Windows, especially the Tweak-UI PowerToy that Microsoft has available. It allows you to customize various aspects of your Windows interface so that everything works just the way you want it to. Best of all is that these PowerToys are offered at no additional cost to existing Windows users and, surprisingly, don’t require you to forego a WGA validation before downloading or installation.

Microsoft’s next flagship operating system, Windows Vista, will be no different because there will also be PowerToys available for people to download and use. Hopefully some great ones will emerge after the consumer release of Windows Vista (January 30th), but in the mean time we can find out what it takes to make a Windows Vista PowerToy!

The Shell blog (run by Microsoft employees) has started the ball rolling with the first post in the series that walks you through the making of a Windows Vista PowerToy. Actually, it is really a Sidebar Gadget for Vista but it is looking pretty cool nonetheless. You can see in the screenshot above that Brandon, the creator of the gadget, started by making an expandable search indexing configurator. With it you could customize how the search indexer (that’s built-into Vista) went about indexing your hard drive, or you could completely pause it.

The first gadget I thought looked awesome with the way it expanded and offered the listing of how many items were indexed…not to mention the nice use of transparency around the border. After word got around internally that he started working on this people wanted to use it first-hand. After sending it to some people he started to receive recommendations for improvements, and each of the transitions can be seen above with the final result outlined in red.

Brandon has done a really nice job at making a compact, yet usable interface that Vista users will surely appreciate. He will continue the series in the next few days where he’ll give some insight as to how he built the indexer status and control functionality using JavaScript along with the Windows Search API’s that are available. I’m into programming so I can’t wait to see how hard (or easy) doing this was.