Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Windows 7 + Gadgets


The first thing most users will notice when upgrading to Windows 7 is that the Sidebar is no longer present and has instead be replaced by dockable areas on all edges of the screen. The only downside to this is it means gadget’s wont automatically re-sort themselves if one is removed or one changes height which can be annoying. This also means that gadgets don’t detect when they’ve been removed from the dock area, therefore all gadgets are in their docked state by default. There’s now a little icon which you can click to make the gadget increase in size to its undocked state.

Currently as far as Gadgets go, there’s not many improvements, memory management has been improved and some of the 50+ long list of bugs have been fixed, but I’ve found two that  have been introduced (and possibly now fixed in a later build).

For the developers:

The first is that if you have a <g background> tag and you don’t set the width or height then it won’t be seen. In Vista there was a default width and height of 100% but this is not the case in Windows 7 so many gadgets which left that out may be missing a background or have some sort of pink fringing.

The second is that if you set the charset of a gadget in a meta tag in the HTML this will break the gadget. Yep, if you put a tag in that does nothing, it will break the gadget. Even weirder is that if you put in an invalid character set, say ‘blah’ then it won’t break. So it’s actually checking if you defined a valid character set and then breaking. And by break, I mean the code will error and not continue so the gadget won’t load properly.

And for the users:

I’ve submitted both these bugs and both have been marked as fixed so we’ll see what happens in later builds. For me the only important gadget this broke was the National Rail gadget, I’ve emailed the dev and they’ve forwarded a fixed version to national rail I believe so we’ll have to wit and see if they update it or Msoft fixes this issue. It’s an easy fix but I can’t post it here without getting in trouble.

One area that could be promising is the new Sensor API. The weather gadget has been updated to support location sensors so it’s possible other gadgets might be able to access sensor data so like an ebay gadget could only show listings within a certain range of your current location.

Overall there’s not much change which is a shame as there’s a lot of little things that could have made a big different like flyouts that stay open for example, or larger settings pages.


Anonymous said...

Is that a custom utorrent gadget on your sidebar?
If it's just a changed skin, could you post some details on how one can apply a custom skin on this gadget?

Law James said...


You can just change the images it uses which are located here:

C:\Users\USERNAME\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Sidebar\Gadgets\utorrent.gadget

The default size is larger then the one I have though as I've heavily modified it.

Anonymous said...

cant wait for windows 7

dfuk said...

Just a quicky
Computer Status v1.1 has the background bug in Win7 Build 7068.x64.
It has been fine on previous builds
I hope this is an easy fix as it's my favorite gadget



Unknown said...

I have one favourite gadget which works with Vista, but doesn't work in Win7. Its name is GShot. I would like to fix it, but I don't know anything about programming. I tried to find some info how to update code that it works on Win7, and I found your blog. Sadly, there is not enough information how to set this size to g:background.
Could you show it on SDK sample gadget "Hello World!", because it doesn't work on W7 either.

Anonymous said...

Your the best !!

Anonymous said...


I have been using Computer Status 1.1 and have found it very useful, except that it apperas to have a severe memory leak, at about 1MB every 1.75 minutes (at least at the start, if not greater later).

While without it, sidebar uses 90MB, I have noticed it up to 4GB after a few days. Without the gadget, sidebar usage does NOT change.

I am using Win7 RC on an i7 920 with 12GB RAM.

Anonymous said...

Re the memory leak with Computer Status 1.1.

The memory does not get released until sidebar.exe service is stopped and restarted.

Anonymous said...

Computer Status v1.1

most of the radio stations dont work ?

david said...

hello , it's a very goog gadget but i'm french and there isn't french radio. can i update de french station ?

Anonymous said...

What's the name of that calendar gadget on the screenshot?

Anonymous said...

Fantastic, like it. Works and full of functions in mini space.
Many of the radio stations don't work. can i update them ?
Computer Status v1.1,
it's my favorite gadget !

Ashraf Khan said...

My Windows 7 sidebar is not working whatever gadget I select. It doesnot appear properly Please Suggest a solution......

Anonymous said...

Computer Status 1.1 is no longer available on the microsoft Desktop Gadget gallery.. please advise where which server I can download it from. The Softpedia Server downlaods a Zip folder with no exe file ?

Anonymous said...

I am the user from Hong Kong. Is it possible to add the radio signal from Hong Kong also?

Unknown said...

Also windows, cell phones and computers have weather measuring instruments set up. It's very helpful for us actually. But for more detailed, reliable and accurate information cabled weather stations and wind meter are the best option.