For the past couple of years, we've heard a lot about widgets. Widgets are clever mini-applications that reside on users desktops. Programs such as DesktopX, Konfabulator, Kapsules, Samurize, amongst others have helped popularize putting this expanded content on users desktops.
Widgets have some nice advantages over traditional programs - they're small in file size, light on system resources, and visually cool looking. But they had disadvantages too -- they requiring downloading and installing the enabling program it was made for (DesktopX, Konfabulator, etc.). This has put a road-block in terms of getting widgets more mainstream and certainly has put a damper on their commercial distribution.
Stardock, the developer, has a solution: Gadgets. Gadgets are the same as widgets except that they don't require any additional downloads. They remain small in size, small in memory use, but can be used by anyone.
For example, the Neowin gadget is a full RSS monitor for Neowin created by Timan and Stardock. If it were a widget, users would first have to download a 10+ megabyte third party program to allow it to run (and most widget enablers aren't free either). But because it's a gadget, it requires no additional download. It also is less than a megabyte in size and uses only a couple megabytes in memory.
Gadgets are created with DesktopX Pro. Widget makers can export their creations as gadgets and then distribute it to anyone. Users can then download and use it without needing any additional third-party program.
Download: Neowin Gadget