Sidebar Geek

My experience with Windows Vista. Windows Sidebar and Microsoft Gadgets.

Review: Windows Sidebar - Build 5365

I'd like to share my thoughts and experiences with Windows Sidebar in the latest build of Windows Vista - Build 5365. On top of stability and performance improvements, Build 5365 offers us a few new Gadgets to add to our Sidebar: Stock Gadget, Weather Gadget, Sticky Notes Gadget, a CPU Meter Gadget, a new RSS Feed Watcher Gadget and a Currency Converter Gadget. Missing from the Gadgets is the Launcher Gadget.

PLEASE NOTE: The following information and opinions are based off of my experience with Build 5365 only.

The New Gadgets:

The Stock and Currency Converter Gadgets give me "service unavailable" errors. Not sure if its a setting on my end or what. The Stock Gadget offers a very interesting animations for displaying stock information though. A bit cheesy but its quite neat to see. These two Gadgets are no one's I would have on my Sidebar but can easily see someone needing to convert currency or get their stocks.

The Sticky Notes Gadget is a useful Gadget for having to make quick notes when browsing the web or checking email.

The new RSS Feed Watch Gadget allows you to see how many new posts are in any of your subscribed feeds in the feed store. Its in a Gadget that looks like a dot-matrix printer. The feeds that are stored in the Windows Feed Store that IE7 uses show up on the printer as if they were bring printed out. Its different than the already existing RSS Feed Gadget that displays the posts from only one feed.

The Weather Gadget isn't anything spectacular although its a Gadget I've been wanting for some time. It displays the weather in a "window" looking outside. Its also a creative way to display the weather.

The CPU Meter Gadget is actually really nice and works quite well instead of having the Task Manager open.

My Thoughts:
I personally don't like the Weather Gadget and Feed Watcher Gadget. The dot-matrix printer theme used by the Feed Watcher Gadget is just really - well - corny in my opinion. And the Weather Gadget is far too big and takes up alot of Sidebar Space. I want my Gadgets to be streamlined, small - yet effective and of course not a huge space hog on the Sidebar itself. I don't think using themes like dot-matrix printers or a large window are the way to go with Desktop Gadgets. Take a look at the Live.com Weather Gadget. Its simple, professional looking and not cheesy. How about a smaller version of that for Sidebar? I've always thought a Weather Gadget is much needed for the Vista Desktop but not like they've done here in Build 5365.

I really like the CPU Meter Gadget. Its UI is designed effectively and with quality. Its small. The Sticky Note Gadget can be useful for average home users. Currently I use OneNote to make quick notes. Would be nice if the Office Team developed a OneNote Gadget to use in the same fashion as the Sticky Note Gadget in Build 5365 works.

I miss the night/daylight animation that the Clock Gadget had in the February CTP Build 5308. I wish they would bring that back.

As for performance and stability of Build 5365's Sidebar, there is a large improvement. After the initial installation, when booting in for the first time, all my Gadgets appeared all squashed together on top of each other. I had to restart Sidebar to get them to appear correctly. Occasionally this happens after restart but not always. Other than that, I've had no real big issues with the performance in this build which is good. My system also doesn't seem to be impacted quite as much by the Gadgets that are running.

There is alot I am looking for in Beta 2. I want small powerful Desktop Gadgets that live up to the mini-application hype that was talked about during PDC this year. I want to see new Gadgets such as a Gadget that displays how many unread email messages I have, and a Messenger Gadget. I want the Gadgets to do more as well.

For those using Build 5365, I'd love to hear your thoughts on Windows Sidebar and Gadgets!

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Comments

  • Sidebar Geek said:
    This evening I've put together an extensive Review of Windows Sidebar in Build 5365. Windows Sidebar...
    April 23, 2006 12:12 AM
  • MGerlach310 said:
    I dont find the weather one that bad...maybe make it a little smaller. The whole window isnt needed, but a good concept.

    I was a little bumbed to see the quick launch gadget missing. The sticky note is pretty cool, I will probably use that alot.

    The close is a little better (easier to read than the previous versions).

    I really love the CPU/Memory meter. That will be up at all times for me.

    I will say that, until I can import an OPML file into the RSS reader (or in IE7), I wont be using the feed reading features. I just like my setup in FF with Sage too much. I need to play around some more in the coming weeks.
    April 23, 2006 2:20 PM

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