PDC 2005: Microsoft gets into the gadget business

Microsoft announced at PDC today that it is getting into the "gadget" business putting it in direct competition from a feature stand point with Apple's Dashboard and Yahoo's Widgets (Konfabulator).

Gadgets, like widgets, are mini-applications that typically provide useful information or perform very simple desktop functionality. However, unlike widgets, they do not require a widget enabling program (i.e. such as Konfabulator, DesktopX Standard, Kapsules, etc.). They are stand-alone programs requiring on additional downloads.

Up till now, the only way to make gadgets on Windows was using Stardock's (which is where my day job is) DesktopX Pro. Like DesktopX Pro's gadgets, Microsoft's gadgets can be embedded in other applications. For instance, just as DesktopX Pro gadgets can be put into RightClick and ObjectBar, Microsoft's gadgets can be embedded into the recently reincarted Desktop Sidebar which is expected to ship with Windows Vista.

Microsoft has set up a new site called MicrosoftGadgets.com. The announcement was greeted with jeers from Macintosh advocates who feel that Microsoft is "stealing" the idea from Apple's dashboard while other people say that Dashboard stole its idea from Konfabulator and still others assert that DesktopX preceded them all along with a group that is arguing that desktop accessories from 1984 were the real inspiration.

Regardless of what inspired Microsoft to get into the gadget business, the real winners are consumers and developers who can be assured that there will be ample support for gadget creation in the future.

DesktopGadgets.com, which offically launches next Tuesday is designed to let gadget creators give away or sell their gadgets. It will support gadgets created by DesktopX Pro or via Microsoft's tools.

This story is still developing. Stay tuned..

View: MicrosoftGadgets.com

View: DesktopGadgets.com beta

View: DesktopX Pro home page

Screenshot: Example of a Gadget embedded into a RightClick menu

Screenshot: Example of a widget/gadget being inserted into a bar

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