Warning: Widgets About to Explode

I first came across widgets–those mini-utility, -feed and -game modules that can be dropped onto Web pages, blogs and feed readers–about 9 months ago, when a company I was working for hand them under development. I was skeptical about their broad adoption. Neat mini-platform for developers, yes. Cool way to syndicate content, sure.  But something most Web users are about to play with? Not likely. 

Then I got Windows Vista.  

For those who haven’t entered the inevitable, and inevitably strained, domestic partnership known as the Vista OS, a transparent module called “Gadgets” rides the right rail of the desktop.

Like nearly everything our friends in Redmond launch, the 1.0 version needs much improvement. It’s full of annoynaces (when you “move” a widget from the sidebar it leaps to the left corner of the screen, from which it then appears to be immune from movement except back to the sidebar). Seems the folks at Microsoft are willing to cede a small amount of control over the family jewel, i.e., the desktop. 

But the gadgets rail on Vista nearly ensures mainstream adoption and imminent transformation of the desktop from a work surface to personalized active Web experience.

Which means that everybody on the Web seeking a mass audience, or loyal users in a competitive space, are going to be falling over themelves to get their widgets on the Vista desktop. If Netflix doesn’t beat Blockbuster to the Vista desktop, they’ll lose market share. Ditto Amazon vs. Barnesandnoble, WebMD vs. everydayhealth.com. In the news space, MSNBC (surprise!) comes riding on the Vista desktop right out of the box. CNN needs a widget strategy by yesterday. Go to the New York Times home page and you cannot find an NYT headline widget to put on your blog. But you can order an ink-on-paper subscription. 

I’d keep an eye on springwidgets.com, a widgeteer in beta whose claim to fame is debuting as a distributor of widgets via the usual Web sites, blogs, social networking pages, etc., but also via the desktop. None of the other widgethouses I could see has optimized their product yet for the desktop, but maybe I’m missing something.

Meantime, if any of you folks out there have Vista and have found widgets that are genuinely useful on the desktop–not merely cool, funny or time-sucking–drop me a line.

Explore posts in the same categories: syndication, Vista, widgets

One Comment on “Warning: Widgets About to Explode”

  1. DinoT Says:

    Actually, you can get just about any web widget on the desktop using Amnesty Generator:

    This little app converts web widget code into Gadgets for your Vista sidebar. Best feature: it’s free.

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