The Sidebar and Gadgets
Also new to Windows Vista is the Sidebar. The Sidebar by itself really has no functionality; rather, it serves as docking station for one or more Gadgets.
Gadgets are little applications that can perform a wide variety of functions. They can display information gathered from a) your computer, such as memory/CPU usage and song playlists, b) from the Internet, such as stock, weather, and RSS feed information, c) user-supplied information, such as the very handy Notes application, or d) none of the above, as is the case with puzzle and games.
By default, Vista ships with 13 gadgets; they include the Calculator, Clock, CPU Meter, Currency Conversion, Feed Viewer, Feed Watcher, Notes, Number Puzzle, Picture Puzzle, Recycle Bin, Slide Show, Stocks, and a Timer. You can download additional gadgets at the Microsoft Live Gallery web site, which can be easily found by following a hyperlink in Vista's Gadget Gallery, detailed below.
Companies and individuals can also develop and submit their own gadgets. Does IT need a way to quickly update staff about network status? Gadgets might just be the perfect solution. Do you want to keep abreast of your fantasy baseball team during day games? Go ahead and write the gadget yourself. All that work time devoted to your fantasy team will likely earn you a promotion.
Of course, you don't have to use the Sidebar if you prefer not to. Fortunately, configuring Sidebar behavior won't present much of a challenge.