Vista Sidebar XP is a little application for XP users that will give you a taste of one of the most coveted features of Microsoft Vista - the desktop sidebar.
Some time ago, Microsoft Windows XP was replaced by Vista. The new operating system brought 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 was a 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 Vista Sidebar XP. 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 Vista Sidebar XP gadgets are a search function, image preview window, RSS feed and elegant analogue clock.
Visually, all the Vista Sidebar XP gadgets are pretty faithful to the Vista sidebar, although they lack the customization options that you get with Vista. For instance, Vista Sidebar XP's 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 Vista Sidebar XP 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.
Despite being a bit limited, Vista Sidebar XP represents an accurate taste of the instant-access functions you can expect in Vista.