Desktop expansions are going to be more and more popular. Strictly speaking desktop expansions, also called desktop widgets or gadgets, are mini-programs or mini-applications that are placed at the Windows sidebar and provide information at a single glance. They offer access to frequently used tools and can easily be organized by means of the already mentioned Windows sidebar. The Windows Sidebar enables users and operators to manage the position of every single Microsoft gadget as well as to keep them always available. Popular gadgets within Windows Vista are Calendar, Clock, Contacts, CPU Meter, Currency Conversion, Feed Headlines, Notes, Picture Puzzle, Slide Show, Stocks, and Weather. A number of several other gadgets being available during the Vista Beta were removed: Number Puzzle, Egg Timer, Feed Viewer, and Recycle Bin.

In order to deliver data like weather information, news updates, Internet radio streams, slide shows of online photo albums and traffic maps, the little gadgets are able to connect to special web services. Furthermore desktop gadgets can also be used in order to control a variety of external applications like the Windows Media Center.

The Windows Desktop Gadgets is a special widget engine for Microsoft Gadgets that was introduced with Windows Vista. In Windows Vista it features a sidebar which is anchored to the side of the desktop. This feature which consists in the anchorage of the sidebar to the side of the desktop was completely removed in Windows 7. Consequently Windows 7 makes it possible to snap various desktop gadgets to the side which means that gadgets can be aligned in any side of the screen. At this point it has to be stressed that a special selection of gadgets ships with Windows. Furthermore every user and operator has the possibility to develop more gadgets for the desktop expansion. So Microsoft offers a link to a special website, strictly speaking the Windows Live Gallery, where users have the possibility to download additional Sidebar widgets that have been developed by third party clients.

Although Windows Vista as well as Windows 7 do provide a variety of different desktop gadgets, one important widget is still missing – strictly speaking a little program which scans the whole computer system for Trojans. This gadget could run ‘docked’ in the sidebar of the desktop, simply float anywhere around the screen and easily be activated on the desktop. The advantage of this useful and absolutely helpful widget consists in the fact that the result of the scan can directly be seen in the sidebar. So the widget would provide a clearly represented virus scan every time the user wants to have a check. It would also be possible to install a timer which is linked to the widget. Consequently the widget would be activated automatically every day at the same time. This help against Trojans would be a good example for the fact that a desktop widget should not only be seen as a funny mini-program or mini-application, but also as a helpful instrument to organize and manage important areas and parameters.