Before Windows Vista is released, Microsoft announced several new features that will come in the next generation of Windows Operating System (OS), and a Sidebar is one of them. However, before Windows Vista is released, there are already several other softwares “copying” the idea of Sidebar. Google Desktop captured the idea and came up with its very own Search engine, embedded within the sidebar. Besides Google, Desktop Sidebar was one of the first few to release its own sidebar, and also WATSON 2.0 which I had written something about it last September.
The current stable release of Desktop Sidebar remains at build 75, but they have released a beta version of Build 109 just a couple of days ago. Desktop Sidebar was designed to give you all the information you with just a glance using specific panels with each panel designed specifically to display reports and interface with other applications, settings, and virtually anything else you may want to know. The usage seems virtually limitless.
After the installation procedure, the Desktop Sidebar can be started immediately. By default the preconfigured panels will be setup and docked to the right side of your screen. Nonetheless, all these can be adjusted based on preference and order.
The aim of the Desktop Sidebar is provide the user with instance access to some of their most important daily information. Besides, it is tightly integrated with Outlook XP, Windows Messenger and Windows Media Player. Other panels include, Clock Panel, Calendar Panel, Task Panel, Inbox Panel, Notes Panel, Messenger Panel, Newsroom Panel (RSS/RDF Newsfeed viewer), Performance Panel, Disk Monitor Panel, Media Player Panel, Toolbar Panel, Weather Panel and Search Bar Panel.
With this beta build version, 328 additional skins and panels are available. However, note that these plugins require .NET Framework 1.1, which is not included in the Vista (which will install and work in Vista) in order for Desktop Sidebar to work.
Docked to the edge of the screen as a default setting. It displays not just only your appointments, tasks and e-mails but also shows other useful information such as news downloaded from the Internet. The integration with Microsoft Outlook means users do not have to transfer data to a new application. For instance, when using it, users do not have to switch to Microsoft Outlook in order to check their schedule, which is always displayed on the screen. Different information are displayed in separate panels, allowing users to freely arrange panels by adding, removing or moving and grouping together.
In this build:
- Recent problems with Stock Panel are fixed
- Stock Panels displays graphs in Details Window
- Mail Checker Panels supports SSL authentication
- Newsroom support HTTP authentication
- Slideshow panels supports slideshow in RSS format
- WinAmp player was improved
- CmdLine panel indexes your Start Menu so you can write “word” and press enter to start Microsoft Office Word
- Details Window can appear only after user clicks panel
- This build includes also many small improvements and bug fixes
Note that, as mentioned before, to run Desktop Sidebar, users may have to install .NET Framework 1.1 from Microsoft website. I’m sure this is a pretty cool software for those who had systems too much of resources available.