Microsoft introduced a sidebar for gadgets in the Windows Vista operating system, removed the sidebar restriction from it with the release of Windows 7, and pulled the whole thing with the release of Windows 8.
Windows users who want to display gadgets, or widgets as they are called this as well, need to use third-party solutions to do so.
One of the first that gets mentioned usually is Rainmeter, an excellent program offering many customization options.
Xwidget is another. It is a lightweight program for Windows that you can use to add widgets to your desktop.
The core program enables a clock, weather and photo viewer widget by default with options to add or remove widgets from that initial selection with just a few clicks.
The set of widgets that it makes available by default consists of 14 widgets that are designed in a similar fashion. Among them a search, RSS and notes widget that can be added with a couple of clicks to the desktop.
What makes Xwidget interesting is the sheer number of additional widgets that you can download and install for it.
You can open the gallery right from your desktop or by visiting the official website where it is also available. Here you find hundreds of additional widgets that offer similar or new features.
Featured widgets are loaded by default but you can switch the display to latest widgets instead. Each widget is displayed with a thumbnail image of how it looks on the desktop and its name.
A click on it opens its profile page that lists the features that it makes available, additional screenshots, and a download option.
Widgets are downloaded directly from within the gallery if you have launched it on the desktop which is comfortable. Each widget downloaded this way is displayed directly on the screen so that you can move it around and configure it to your liking.
As far as configurations are concerned, it is always possible to modify a set of default settings such as the position and size of the window, the opacity of it or its state.
Depending on the widget, it may also be possible to change other features. You can change the weather widget's location and measurement unit for example on top of that.
It is furthermore possible to load widgets in a design editor to modify nearly every aspect of it in detail.
As soon as you close the gallery viewer, you will notice that the memory consumption of the widget engine is less than 2 Megabyte. It will rise if you add widgets to the desktop but this may increase memory by a Megabyte or two at the most.
Xwidget is a useful program for Windows users who like to display widgets on their desktop. The number of widgets the program makes available is excellent, as is the low memory use while it is running.
Some things could be better though. Number one on my list is the missing gadget search feature. You cannot search for specific gadgets nor filter them by parameters such as color or shape.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.