As people use their computer to access more information and perform more tasks they increasingly face information overload. It takes time to open a web browser just to check the weather or an application to view a calendar entry. In come gadgets - mini applications such as news feeds, games and sticky notes that sit on the desktop and place information and tasks at the user’s fingertips.
Organisations providing a service are able to develop a gadget for either Windows Sidebar or www.live.com that displays information about their service so the user can look at and get a quick understanding of that data.
Daryl Burling, developer evangelist at Microsoft New Zealand says Microsoft’s vision is to enable users to have their information go with them on any device.
“To this end we’ve invested in a technology we call gadgets. Gadgets are designed to provide the user with information at a glance,” he says.
“To enable users to have this information with them anywhere we are enabling a number of our products to serve as gadget hosts – that is they will be able to have a gadget run inside or alongside them. The Windows Vista Sidebar and Windows Live services (beginning with www.live.com) are our first steps to enable this gadget concept to become a reality for end users.”
Burling says that Microsoft NZ is talking to a number of organisations about gadgets for live.com and for Windows Vista and is actively looking for more people to offer their data through a gadget for either live.com or both for live.com and the Windows Sidebar.
One such organisation is Symbio Agency a global boutique interactive services firm based in Wellington which has recently launched TrafficWatch, a gadget that provides at-a-glance information on traffic conditions in New Zealand’s main centres.
According to Maitland Waters, managing director of Symbio, TrafficWatch is a web based desktop monitor service designed to help New Zealanders ease their daily commute. By checking traffic before and after work, a commuter can quickly and easily identify traffic congestion and make choices about drive times.
“With Microsoft Gadgets we are able to provide our clients with powerful web connected tools which are simple to develop and simple to run. We opted to develop our service as a Gadget because we recognised that different users require information in various formats and at different times based on their personal and customised technology choices,” says Waters.
“Web users today want control over which services they will subscribe to and it’s important for our clients to be offering information via all the channels available to their audience. I think the record labels learned a big lesson about waiting to offer a particular technology format. We believe Gadgets will grow in popularity due to their ease of use and the ‘always on’ capability.”
There are currently several hundred gadgets available for live.com with more becoming available daily. If you’re a developer or have a service which could make use of gadgets you can contact Burling directly at email@example.com.
To view TrafficWatch visit