ARTICLES IN THE BOOK
A GUIDE TO WINDOWS VISTA
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The Windows Sidebar is a panel for Desktop Gadgets that is anchored to the side of the Windows Vista desktop.
The Sidebar contains mini-applications or Gadgets which may be used to display information such as the system time, Internet-powered features such as RSS feeds, and to control external applications such as Windows Media Player. Desktop Gadgets can also run on the Windows desktop, separate from the Sidebar.
Windows Vista includes eleven Sidebar gadgets: Calendar, Clock, Contacts, CPU Meter, Currency conversion, RSS Feed Headlines, Notes, Picture Puzzle, Slide Show, Stocks, and Weather. Of these, the Clock, Slide Show and Feed Headlines are displayed by default on a new installation of Windows Vista. Microsoft provides a link to a web site called Windows Live Gallery where additional Sidebar gadgets may be downloaded.
Some reviewers and Macintosh enthusiasts have been quick to point out the Sidebar's similarities in form and function to Apple's Dashboard, as well as Yahoo! Widget Engine (formerly Konfabulator). While there are a number of similarities in form and function, the Sidebar itself has been present for much of the development of Windows Vista (known for much of that time as "Longhorn"). The first known build to include this feature was built in September 2002, before the release of either Konfabulator or Dashboard.
Sidebar itself originated in a Microsoft Research project called Sideshow, which was developed in the summer of 2000, and was used internally at Microsoft. It had many similarities to current desktop gadget software, including a clock, traffic reports, and IM integration.
Interestingly, Sidebar was originally designed to replace the notifcation area or Quick Launch bar in Windows, but these plans were scrapped after the Longhorn "reset" in mid-2004.