One of the features missing in Microsoft's latest operating system Windows 8 is desktop gadget support. Gadgets are programs that make their functionality directly available on the desktop. They were first introduced in Windows Vista limited to a sidebar area on the desktop, and then improved under Windows 7 where they can be placed anywhere on the screen. Microsoft recently released a security advisory that suggested to disable Windows Sidebar and Gadgets to protect the operating system against security vulnerabilities that exploit the feature.
Microsoft in addition has retired the official gadget directory on the Microsoft website, and removed options to install gadgets on its newest operating system Windows 8.
While there is no official option to add desktop gadget support back to the operating system, there are two unofficial ways to do so. Before you start to install one of the alternatives, I'd like to point out that you should scan the solutions with up to date antivirus software and create a backup of your system before you do so to avoid any issues. At least one solution adds the Windows 8 Release Preview gadgets system to the final version of Windows 8.
The first solution was posted on the My Digital Life forum a few weeks ago. This uses the gadget files from the Windows 8 Release Preview to make the Windows Sidebar feature available under the final version of Windows 8. Just download the 32-bit or 64-bit version of the pack to your computer, extract them all to the Windows\system32\ folder and run the install.cmd file afterwards to install the desktop gadget support on the system again.
This second package comes with an installer that you can run on your system. I have found it referenced on Mike's blog, the download points directly to a file hosted on a Russian forum. I could not locate the actual forum thread the file was posted on, and would be very cautious before you install it on your system. One option would be to install it first in a virtual environment with detailed installation logging for a listing of all modifications that are made on the system.#
This one is brand new, has been released a few days ago. It ships with an installer that is compatible with 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows 8 as long as the interface language is Chinese, English, French, German or Japanese. The installer will re-add the original Microsoft gadget files and settings that have been part of the beta of Windows 8. In addition, it ships with about 20 different popular gadgets that you can install right away on the system without having to go gadget hunting on the web first.
You can alternatively install a desktop customization tool like Rainmeter which ships with a set of gadgets by default. While that won't give you support for native Windows desktop gadgets, it is something that may replace the gadgets that you ran under previous versions of Windows and want to have available at your disposal under Windows 8 as well.
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