Microsoft presented Gadgets, a new category of mini-applications. They seem to be almost the same as Apple's Widgets and Yahoo's Konfabulator and they help you by providing information, useful lookup, or enhance other applications or services on your computer or the Internet. Examples might include a weather gadget running on your desktop or on your homepage, an RSS Gadget that pulls in your favorite feeds, or an extension of a business application providing just-in-time status on the pulse of your business.
There are three types of Microsoft's Gadgets:
Gadgets for Windows Sidebar will run on your desktop or dock into Windows Sidebar, an upcoming feature in Windows Vista alongside other applications. Desktop Gadgets can developed using Windows Presentation Foundation, DHTML/Atlas, and even ActiveX controls. The beauty of Desktop Gadgets is that they are visually and programmatically rich – scaling from vector-based graphics and managed code to standard techniques you’d use for the Web. You’ll be hearing more about Windows Sidebar over the coming months here as we approach release around Beta 2 of Windows Vista.
Gadgets for Start.com (a.k.a. Web or Server-based Gadgets) provide a fast, customizable homepage with a clean user interface – putting the user in control of more of their online experience. Currently in incubation/public preview, Start.com is a place where consumers can customize the web to their liking by adding their own sources of content including RSS web-feeds and web-based Gadgets that extend functionality of their site- anything from custom calendars to service integration. Start.com demonstrates the use of DHTML and ASP.Net Atlas, which separates the data from the UI resulting in significant performance improvements. In addition, Start.com Gadgets can easily support docking into the Windows Sidebar.
Gadgets for Windows SideShow(tm) (a.k.a. Auxilary Display Gadgets) allow users to view their information on devices. Users can view their data where they want it, whether it is for instant access on the lid of a laptop PC, for notifications on a keyboard display or for convenience on a detached device like a cell phone. Gadgets for Windows SideShow run on the PC and use COM interfaces to send data to devices. This Windows SideShow platform combined with the power of desktop applications allows for new scenarios and opportunities.