Unless you’ve been living in a hut in the Gobi desert for the last few months, you’ll know that Microsoft Windows XP is no more, having being replaced by Vista. The new Operating System brings about a bevy of changes, including a revamped desktop environment, designed not only to look good, but also to improve your productivity. One of the key new features is the Sidebar, which replicates the Dashboard in OS X and allows you easy access to certain tools, such as news, web searching and your digital photos.
If you haven’t got the money (or indeed, the inclination) to upgrade to Vista, then you can recreate the Sidebar with this popular application. Despite a rather strange installation process, which fails to provide an auto-run function, the app can be set up and configured pretty quickly and comes with four useful preset ‘widgets’. The tools are a search function, image preview window, RSS feed and a rather elegant analogue clock.
Visually, all these widgets are pretty faithful to the Vista sidebar, although they lack they customisation options that you get with the new OS. For instance, the image tool doesn’t allow you to set the folder from which to display pictures, merely picking photos at random from your hard drive . All the tools are locked within a transparent bar that runs down the right-hand side of your desktop, which gets annoying after a while as there’s no way to minimize it and it ends up squashing any application window you open. Nevertheless, it represents an accurate taste of the instant-access functions you can expect in Vista.