Welcome to the beginning…

For those who know me, I have a varied number of interests- having started at Microsoft in developer tools before transitioning to digital media platforms, and then consumer technologies in Windows. About six months ago, I heard about a team that was working on adding “cool” new features into Windows Vista. The team was hiring so I started kicking tires and today, I’m a Senior Program Manager on the team.

Things are crazy here at PDC but Bill Gates just demo’d what I’ve been working on most recently: Windows Sidebar. It’s back, but it never really went away, just out of the public view. What’s more is that it’s just one of the things our team is working on -others to be announced later. Given how busy we are here- I’m going to lift Steve “Furrygoat” Makofsky’s most recent post.

Now that it’s been revealed in the PDC Keynote, I can finally start to talk about one of the projects that our team has been working on. Yes, it’s the Windows Sidebar.

So, what exactly are Gadgets? Offically, “Gadgets are a new category of mini-application for the Windows Desktop and the Web. Windows Sidebar is the container for Gadgets on the Windows desktop in Windows Vista. Web Gadgets can also be built for rich, dynamic sites like Start.com.

Unoffically? Well, I’ll be posting a lot more on that in the coming weeks. ๐Ÿ™‚

It’s really a great feeling to finally see all of the blood, sweat and tears finally make the light of day. The team behind Windows Sidebar is really small, and I can easily say that it’s been pretty inspiring to work with such a passionate group of people. Windows Sidebar will be available for developers ‘around Beta 2’, but in the mean time check out http://www.microsoftgadgets.com (it should be up today).

I’ve also set up a new “gadgets” category to talk about building Gadgets for the Windows Sidebar, so please feel free to send over any questions, thoughts, comments, etc and I’ll see what I can do to either answer them here, or get them into the FAQ.

Finally, did you notice at the beginning of the post, I mentioned that Windows Sidebar was only one of the projects we’re working on……. (more coming soon)….

Update: Shawn has posted on Windows Sidebar as well.

But Windows Sidebar is just a part of the story. Gadgets are available for Web, Windows Desktop, and Devices. No one else is doing that. Check out www.microsoftgadgets.com for the skinny on Gadgets- more details to come soon.

Update: Comments aren’t working yet on www.MicrosoftGadgets.com

33 comments

  1. steven vore says:

    very cool looking; looking forward to seeing more as they’re released. I can’t tell though from the site if gadgets and/or sidebar will be able to be back-fitted to XP

  2. DanITman says:

    Is that a screenshot of Vista Beta 2. I think it says 2 in the corner. Nice.

    I think what your doing with Sidebar is awesome. I can’t wait to see all the widgets…oops…I mean gadgets that come out ๐Ÿ™‚

    Watching the webcast of PDC today I was blown away by the 3D Alt+Tab feature…WOW! Did your team have any play in this as well?

  3. Ian Dixon says:

    Great stuff, no wonder you were excited about it!
    Can’t wait to get you on the show!

  4. Why couldn’t you just leave the Sidebar in the Straight edge form? Why does it have that that bulgy bent look?

  5. Frank Giuffrida says:

    Looks beautiful, I just wish it was going to be included in the 5219 build being distributed :/.

  6. Paul Thurrott says:

    Why don’t you just call it Windows OS X and be done with it?

    You guys must do all of your R&D over at Apple.com.

  7. DanITman says:

    Paul,

    You can’t say they got this idea from Apple because Apple stole this idea from konfabulator. Konfabulator is the home of the original widget.

  8. Vlad Zvorak says:

    Apple did not steal from Konfabulator. Konfabulator was a take on Apple’s desktop accessories, circa 1984.

    I would say that MS has taken yet another good Apple idea and royally fcuked it. Those widgets…. errr.. ‘gadgets’ look like cr@p next to Tiger’s widgets. Who needs a clock that takes up that much desk space – the ironic thing is that the clock is still present in the bottom right corner! How many clocks do you need? It must be like the whole windows concept of more apps doing the same sh!tty thing = better.

    Vista is a joke.

  9. Steve says:

    teh question is not who copy who but : OMG if it jump from a bridge, i jump to

  10. Sidebar can run curved or straight. For example, when Sidebar is running alongside an application, you can set it to straight edge so you have a clean desktop. Works super-well with widescreen monitors (which BTW are quickly becoming the norm w/ Consumer and Business desktops).

  11. nathan says:

    fuck windows osx is sooooo much better its not even funny

    i hate you faggots hwo act like this is such an orginal idea take a look at mac osx tiger

  12. Jim says:

    Greetings Sean,

    First off, as one person to another, I appreciate your hard work and effort in your field. I have no doubts you lost many nights sleep in your pursuits to be where you are. So congratulations.

    Now, for the reason I’m commenting. Please give credit to Apple for what’s going on in Windows OS X (Vista.) I’m deeply saddened that there is a claim that this (as well as some other technologies in Vista) is original and innovative. It’s not at all. I’m not upset at you, I’m upset at your bosses for stealing Mac OS, rewriting it poorly, getting away with it, and giving Apple no credit. And now it’s happening again.

    Please tell Bill to give credit (publically) to Apple.

  13. Tyler Brown says:

    Hey Sean

    Great work with the sidebar. I’m glad to see its back with a completely revamped look! I just have one question regarding the size of the gadgets as during the PDC Keynote they overlapped the sidebar/desktop border. Was that intentional for the PDC just to show off the gadgets, or is that the normal size? It’d be nice if they could be resized so that they could fit within the border.

    As for the Apple had it first argument. Sure… Apple had a lot of things first. I haven’t heard anyone claim that these features are a Microsoft innovation. This is the software development world… someone innovates, and the rest catch up. It happens over and over again. I’m glad I wasn’t around when operating systems were just starting to be developed. You people would be complaining that ‘X Operating System completely copied the idea of using the internet from Y Operating System.’ Big deal! All this will do is give Apple all the more reason to continue to innovate. Just as they have done with the remarkable Ipod Nano.

  14. Doug says:

    Pfff. Apple. Please. Gadgets and widgets are hardly system seller features on either machine. No offense to the gadget group, but people have been trying to sell gadget kits since the DOS TSR days (anyone remember sidekick?). They are of questionable value, except maybe a clock.

  15. Jeff says:

    Vlad/Jim: So when will Jobs be giving credit to Arlo Rose? I’m sure you know who he is right? Please don’t use the "apple-made-a-calculator-in-1984" defense like many of you Mac people are claiming. If widgets were such an important part of Apple then why did it take 21 years for them to bring back widgets? Because it was unimportant to them until Konfabulator did so well.

    I think its great Microsoft are doing these things because in the end it’s the end-user that benefits… they’re are free, they can be dynamic and exciting when done properly and they can be productive tools to everyday PC life.

  16. Jeff says:

    Oh and Jim the statement "I’m deeply saddened that there is a claim that this (as well as some other technologies in Vista) is original and innovative" makes me think you have one foot on a plane on it’s way to Guyana. Put down the Kool-Aid and get a life. If you’re actually saddened by any of this you need to get some fresh air and a new perspective. Christ.

  17. Bryan Esler says:

    Wow, this is ridiculous. Complete copy of Apple’s Dashboard feature in Tiger. Amazing that Microsoft couldn’t come up with something of their own…or wait, does that ever happen?

    Let’s see what’s been copied recently for Vista…
    – Spotlight search
    – Dashboard widgets
    – Transparency look
    – Animated Progress Bar
    – Glossy look and feel
    – Asking for a password before installing programs

    I could go on and on…why don’t you just call this Microsoft: Tiger Edition?
    Let’s just hope that Apple’s OS X 10.5 version smokes Vista for good.

  18. Eddie says:

    Yes. Animated progress bars were invented by apple. As was asking for a password before installing a program.

    And they invented pants as well.

  19. Joe says:

    Don’t be dense people, the timeline in modern widget/gadget implementation goes like this: DesktopX, Konfabulator, Apple, Microsoft. Personally I’m glad they jumped on the bandwagon and am anxious to see how their interpretation of this concept works out.

  20. Mark says:

    Tell us how to get started building these things.
    PDC build of Vista, then what…

  21. Altair BASIC says:

    "In those areas where somebody else has done well, that’s great. We’ll match what they do…" –Bill Gates

    Source: http://tinyurl.com/d3we8

    Gates’ modus operandi since day one was to "match" what others have done.

    So keep on matching Bill. You’ll never be an innovator. Paul yes, you no. Tell you monkey to keep on dancing.

  22. GJ Nilsen says:

    Easy now! Windows is getting more and more bloated, its just a sack of hot air. Make a stable OS before putting a lot of bullshit into a new one.

  23. cluster_fsck says:

    Boy, I guess when Steve Jobs said "Redmond, start your photocopiers" last year you guys took it waaaaay too seriously. I mean really, how do you sleep at night branding this as "new" and "innovative?" You keep adding and adding and adding rather than refocusing on Windows as a lean, mean, stable OS. I’m a knowledge worker and use both Mac OS X and Windows 2000 (as do most corporations) on a daily basis and I can’t imagine how we’d roll out Vista without stripping all of this type of stuff out. Not because it’s eye-candy (same category for Dashboard) but because it’s most likely a risk.

  24. mike says:

    Personally I’m glad they jumped on the bandwagon and am anxious to see how their interpretation of this concept works out.

    Nice choice of words. So far their example Gadgets are… FUGLY.

    Wow. Way to inspire developers, by showing off Redmond-born butt-ugly widgets.. The weather one actually looks like a basic MyYahoo Weather clipping.. OUCH.

    Apple will wait until things are solidified in Longhorn/Vista/Windows 2007/MS OS 10.2 before they talk about Leopard.. the OS that will launch right before Vista…

    That was MS will go into ‘oh shit we’re behind again’ mode…

    Did they actually try to rip off the Automator logo mascot for MS Max?! Wow.. that’s amazing…

  25. Preston Sumner says:

    How disappointing. This is an obvious direct reaction to Dashboard widgets. "Gadgets?" Come on.

    Before anyone starts the Konfabulator nonsense, Apple had desktop widgets in the first MacOS in 1984, called "Desktop Accessories."

    I notice the Sidebar looks a lot like the Dock, too. Sigh.

    I don’t see how you guys can stand working at Microsoft, where modus operandi is to just ape what everyone else does and rely on the monopoly to propagate it. But I’m not terribly worried about it…Vista has all the signs of being somewhat of a flop. "Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium Edition?" Seven confusing versions? All the APIs getting backported anyway? What’s the point in upgrading?

    I’m not going to buy a 3Ghz behemoth just to display plastic windows on the screen.

    Anyways, sorry for the tangent. I’m a former Microsoft Windows fan. I got disillusioned after XP just stagnated and went nowhere, and I got a Mac last February. I will never regret the switch. Using Windows now feels like stepping backwards in time.

  26. TheLaughingMan says:

    Perhaps this is all a hoax? The actual domain is not registered to Microsoft. Then again, it is registered in Canada (which is not too far).

    I honestly think that with 7 versions, cut features and the features they have copied from OS X itself will contribute to Microsoft’s death. I imagine, we will see such a thing in 5-10 years. If a corporation of the likes of Microsoft cannot spend enough money and conduct enough legitimate research into consumer’s needs and how to secure an operating system, then they will ultimately fall.

  27. Sprafa says:

    I have to say something…

    First, MacOS is not used by the large majority (95% ?) of users.
    Second, Microsoft already won the lawsuit where the "look and feel" of Apple’s MacOS was not allowed to be enforced as "unique". That means that if we believe in the laws of our countries, Microsoft has the right to copycat anything it wants from MacOS and viceversa.
    Third, it wasn’t even an Apple idea, it was Stardock’s.
    Fourth, I don’t use a Mac. Konfabulator eats a lot of memory ( Vista will too i guess) so I don’t have Widgets on my WS system.
    Fifth, everyone steals ideas. Get over it. Microsoft will prevail, and let me be the first one to welcome our new widget overlords.

  28. Freddy Johansen says:

    This is of course the country who makes laws to incarcerate people who were in a country when there was an "armed conflict" going on. They have had no trial, no lawyers and no chance to plead their case. Despite the constitution actually giving them this right. No one knows if they were guilty of an actual crime, or just happened to be there when the G.I.s came. "Let’s just put them on Occupied Territory in Cuba, and no one will know". Is it the laws of that country you are talking about SPRAFA? Gee, I wonder why Americans are so"popular"….

  29. Jurgemaister says:

    Hey guys! Give Microsoft a brake!
    If they weren’t to copy Apple, they would be out of the market in no time, right? People has to earn money (eating, housing and stuff), so don’t go so hard on them ๐Ÿ™‚ Even though Windows has some of the features invented by Apple installed, they will never be able to make it look so presentable and nice as Apple does.
    Shure, it’s not fair, but:
    Share the knowledge.

  30. polaris.Xu. says:

    i’m a user of mac, the windows vista is really beatiful,and i have to confirm that.but the sidebar is so similar to the dock in Mac os X from the screen shot.And the word spelling and function of gadeget is just the copy of widget from the description of your company. Microsoft is a really respectful company, but ….

  31. mcepat says:

    Widgets Gadgets, they are both just objects that feed off data streams, oh so apple owns the "clock" please maybe they should try and patent the clock like they tried to patent the ipod interface

    remember developers-developers-developers?

    here is one I would like to say to apple

    widgets they come from konfabulator-konfabulator-konfabulator

    apple is famous for stomping on third party developers and stealing there ideas

    I tell you I am so sick of mac fans getting so sensitive about there OS and how it is much much better then anything out there, why do you always have to defend it? Oh ya forgot 3% market share, why do you guys not get viruses Oh ya forgot 3% market share.

    You are like a little poodle trying to make the most noise

    sorry the world is not going to all switch to apple, its a dream guys

    next up: Windows Vista (welcome to another 3 decades dominated by MS) so quit your whining!

  32. Bryan says:

    First off, Apple first introduced widgets as desktop ornaments in the 1980’s. Desktop X wasn’t the first, Konfabulator was the first.

    Vista is going to be a complete copy of OS X Tiger, which will be funny to see when OS X 10.5 comes out shortly after Vista.

  33. Treble says:

    Visit thesse links and see proof from the horses mouth of Vista’s "borrowed" new and innovative features>>>it is just funny, and sad.

    maclive.net/sid/134
    maclive.net/sid/135
    maclive.net/sid/136

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