Microsoft Retires Gadgets In Preparation Of Windows 8 Launch

Martin Brinkmann
Oct 3, 2011
Updated • May 17, 2014
Windows, Windows 8

Microsoft introduced gadgets when the company launched the Windows Vista operating system. First in a limited gadget's sidebar that restricted the location that gadgets could be placed in, and then usable on the full desktop with the release of Windows 7.

Users who visit the Windows Live Gallery page are now redirected to a Looking for gadgets page that states that the "Windows Live Gallery has been retired" in order "to focus support on the much richer set of opportunities available for the newest version of Windows".

The informational page furthermore states that Microsoft "is no longer supporting development or uploading of new Gadgets". Some desktop gadgets are still available for download as part of the Windows Personalization Gallery, but no where near as much as before.

It may come as a surprise that Microsoft decided to retire the Windows Live Gallery before the official release of the Windows 8 operating system. While it may make sense to get the majority of developers to develop with Windows 8 compatibility in mind, it means at the same time that Vista and Windows 7 users have less options when it comes to downloading and adding gadgets to their operating system.

The Redmond company wants developers to switch from developing gadgets for Windows to developing Metro-style apps for the upcoming Windows 8 operating system.

Windows Developer Preview allows you to leverage your existing skills and code assets so you can create great experiences for your customers. Gadget and web developers can now use their HTML5 and CSS3 skills to build native Windows apps. .NET Developers can use XAML, C#, and Visual Basic to build beautiful Metro-style apps. Game developers can use the power of DirectX 11.1 to build amazing, immersive gaming experiences. Driver developers benefit from increased productivity with the new, integrated Visual Studio development environment.

Not all developers on the other hand will have enough resources to build apps for an operating system that has not yet been released. It is also unclear how well Windows 8 will do, considering the controversial move to the Metro user interface.

Microsoft's move to shut down the Windows Live Gallery is on the other hand not the immediate end for existing and future gadgets. Developers and companies on the other hand will have to find hosting for their gadgets if they did rely on the gallery up to this point to host and promote their gadgets.

Microsoft on the looking for gadgets page suggests to use the companies own CodePlex project hosting service as a new home for Windows gadgets.

What's your take on the retiring of the Windows Live Gallery?

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Microsoft Retires Gadgets In Preparation Of Windows 8 Launch
Microsoft made the decision to retire gadgets in the Windows 8 operating system.

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  1. Matteo said on July 19, 2012 at 11:32 pm

    Is there any work around?
    All sites I have seen are dodgy (with russian brides ads) or very limited.
    I need the windows media player sideshow and the sticky notes, which were microsoft.
    I cannot find torrents or similar.
    Bill Gates may donate as much as he likes, he still remains as evil as Hitler.

  2. windows user, ugh. said on October 19, 2011 at 12:00 am

    Staggeringly poor decision and without a doubt totally baffling (and frustrating) to the average end user… honestly, I’m becoming increasingly embarrassed whenever I find myself automatically defending it against the “you still use windows?” hordes.

  3. xpclient said on October 14, 2011 at 7:44 pm

    Gregg L. DesElms, what happened? Have you registered a complaint?

  4. xpclient said on October 5, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    I agree entirely that Microsoft should be taken to task for essentially discontinuing a Windows 7/Vista feature while these products are in their “current”/”mainstream support” lifecycle. Unfortunately, the Windows End User License Agreement (EULA) says “Microsoft reserves the right to discontinue any internet-based service after the sale of the software to you” or similar wording. But they really need to be punished for making approximately 5000+ gadgets inaccessible to its million-user customer base. Inexcusable.

  5. David said on October 5, 2011 at 2:01 am

    Hi Gregg,

    If you start a class action, I want to join.

    On the other hand, the greater Windows community kind of asked for this. Always complaining that Microsoft was slow to innovate and always playing catch up. It’s like the old saying, “Be Careful What You Ask For, You Just Might Get It”.

  6. Gregg L. DesElms said on October 4, 2011 at 5:17 pm

    Though many decried them, the gadgets are, nevertheless, used by millions; and some of them are not mere window (no pun intended) dressing, and are actually unbelievably useful. When, for example, I’m remote-desktopped into someone’s machine (and so I can’t see the hard drive light) I’m lost unless this guy’s…

    …hard drive gadget is on the remote desktop; and since his other gadgets are also so useful, I usually make sure they’re on the desktop of the remote computer, too, so I can see exactly what’s going on as I work. But that’s just one example… and not even a good one. There are MANY gadgets even more useful. The gadgets I have in my own sidebar are not toys. They let me see and control certain things so easily that I don’t know what I’d do without them.

    For Microsoft to make it so that no one can get at those thousands of gadgets anymore is unconscionable. I could understand Microsoft no longer allowing new gadget uploads so that the whole gadget community won’t grow, but to summarily and without warning make literally THOUSANDS of existing gadgets suddenly unavailable is unbelievably bad form… absolutely egregious behavior. That Microsoft did this unilaterally and with no warning evidences its utter arrogance.

    But there’s also, potentially, a legal misrepresentation or possibly statute of frauds issue in play, as well. Like it or not, gadgets are an integral part of Vista and Win7…

    …both of which have published end-of-support lifecycle information out there…

    …information upon which users of Vista and Win7 rely, and make business decisions (which decisions usually have costs associated with them).

    The makers of those costly decisions make them based on Microsoft’s published lifecycle information. They treat said information as a promise…

    …a promise which I’ll bet the FTC and the Justice Department would agree constitutes a quasi or actual contract.. If not, then it, at the very least, amounts to the kind of actionable marketing promise for which the FTC typically holds companies accountable because of their conspicuous public publication, and existing “truth in advertising” regulations.

    To terminate support for gadgets — an integral part of the Vista and Win7 OS’s — amounts, in my opinion, to a constructive early partial termination of Vista and Win7 support prior to those products’ published lifecycle information, upon which their users’ have relied… in this case, if it is not remediated, to their actionable detriment.

    One of the defenses which Microsoft might use is to allege that the change has not actually made anything in Windows not work. But that is not true. In the case of both Vista and Win7, there’s a link in the lower-right corner of the panel where all installed gadgets may be viewed which, if clicked-upon, used to (until just a day or two ago) take the user to the site where all the gadgets could be found. In Vista, it goes to this page..

    …which, as you can see, is now broken in exactly the way that a page typically breaks when its .css files are inaccessible.

    I’m seriously considering filing a complaint with the attorney generals’ offices of both my state, and the State of Washington (where Microsoft is located); as well as with the FTC and the United States Department of Justice. This is, considering the relative insignificance of gadgets in many people’s minds, actually a fairly huge thing. Microsoft needs to be taken to task for it.

    Though I would find it difficult to argue with Microsoft’s stopping further uploads so that the life-limited gadget community will not grow, to also make the many thousands of existing gadgets unavailable is arrogance and mean-spiritedness. The former’s bad, but latter is a SERIOUS problem.

    Gregg L. DesElms
    Napa, California USA
    gregg at greggdeselms dot com

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on October 4, 2011 at 5:58 pm

      Gregg, thanks so much for voicing your opinion here, you may some valid points.

  7. Roman ShaRP said on October 4, 2011 at 12:02 am

    Well, I never use gadgets and never planned to. I just don’t need them. With 3d party apps I have all visualization and informers I need. So – I won’t miss them.

    One more MS experiment prove it wrong.

    So it goes.

    1. Anonymous said on July 27, 2012 at 11:11 am

      What are you, 8 years old? Computer illiterate? Obv.

  8. Anonymous said on October 3, 2011 at 9:32 pm

    Microsoft continues its monopoly abuse as usual. No one can object to them removing the gadget gallery. Very wrong decision. What are Windows 7 users supposed to do? Imagine if Mozilla discontinued their Firefox addons website. And Windows 8 hasn’t even reached beta yet. Windows “8” my gadget gallery. (Get the joke?). What else will it eat from Windows 7?

  9. Marika said on October 3, 2011 at 8:31 pm

    Thanks for the notice. I just bought a laptop with Windows 7 couple of days ago and was looking for few gadgets I’ve used in my Vista desktop and thought it was weird I had not heard that they’d shut down the gallery. Thankfully I was able to download the gadgets from other sites but I wish they had kept the old site archived.

    By the way, you could place the gadgets anywhere on the desktop also in Vista, I never used the sidebar.

  10. Mushaf said on October 3, 2011 at 8:19 pm

    Stupid decision. They are trying to force developers to work on metro apps. I don’t think a lot of developers are interested to do that. Introduction of gadgets was a great thing for Windows. I love some of the gadgets and they are always shown on my desktop. Fortunately I saved the .gadget files of my favorite ones. Now I guess I’ll have to browse through some third party galleries for more gadgets.

  11. allinthefamily said on October 3, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    Seems a bit premature. I love Windows 7, and therein lies my reluctance to move to 8. Microsoft needs to convince me it’s worth it. Vista to 7 was a necessary step, but 7 isn’t broken! It’s going to take a lot more than Metro UI to convince me to upgrade anytime soon. In the meantime, don’t kill off 7 features!

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