Many companies have tried to give Windows users the same style of widgets that Mac owners get. Widgets have become very popular because it gives you quick access to some of your most important items, and not to mention it adds a little eye candy.
Google’s newest version of Google Desktop Search (GDS) has the ability to not only put gadgets (their term for widgets) on a sidebar but you can also place them on your desktop. To push people to create more gadgets for GDS Google started offering a contest that has a $5,000 reward.
In December 2005 Yahoo purchased a “widget engine” called Konfabulator. Soon after the software was renamed to the Yahoo Widget Engine which quickly became popular because of the thousands of widgets they had available. It could do just about anything for you including checking your email Inbox for new mail by simply downloading a widget.
So where was Microsoft during all of this? Sure they could have been working on their own solution for widgets but with their release of Windows Vista in January 2007 they decided to be a little sneaky. They created a sidebar, just like Google, that can hold gadgets but they too can also be placed on the desktop. Microsoft’s sidebar is also a little more classy because it has a transparent effect to it which matches Vista’s sleek interface. For those people already running Vista Beta 2 the Microsoft Gadgets gallery is your one-stop shop for all of your widget needs.
So Mac has always had the perfect style of widgets and Windows has had a lot of widget alternatives, but what about Linux? aDesklets is the best Linux alternative that I have seen to this day. The screenshot above shows it in action and demonstrates the smooth graphics that we have all come to know and love (more screenshots available here). You can get weather forecasts, calendars, and even system monitors. Those people who are using Ubuntu may find this guide helpful because it walks you through the steps needed to install it.
In the future most operating systems will probably start shipping with built-in widget functionality because of the ever increasing popularity to put information at our fingertips. The real question is who will be able to become the most popular on the Windows distribution? Will it be Microsoft once they release Windows Vista with the Microsoft Gadgets pre-installed? This could be a tough call.