Sidebar is one of my favorite features in Vista.. It is just so full of business-value opportunities and it is such a low entry point that every one tends to always love it..
It is an extension to the existing "enterprise portal" model that has become so popular and successful over the last few years... but it brings the content to the desktop where I might be able to interact with it in off-line mode or with many less clicks and less overhead than a portal (launch browser, drink a sip, page loads, refresh, etc.) .. with sidebar it is Windows+SpaceBar and I am there..
I should come back to a deeper explanation of what sidebar is.. but in the mean time, start here.
One of my favorite parts of talking about sidebar is that people always have a "must have gadget"... My bro-in-law wants an "ebay gadget" to let him bid and notify him if some one is messing with his (likely to be) new toys; a peer wants an "airline gadget" that tells her when her hubby's plane arrives from business trips... etc..
For me it was weather, with my < 3 year old, I am always looking for when it will be "sunny but not hot" or "at least not raining" so I can plan my outings with him... a few weeks ago, I wrote my weather gadget ... piece of cake, in a couple hours I was running -and most time it took me to find a weather webservice-.. So, I was looking to be a team player and submit my gadget to the "sidebar gallery" but I upgraded to Vista RC1 and the gadget is already there.. my contribution opportunity was killed..
My other "must have gadget" is my "Outlook To-Do Bar"... For those running Office 2007, you know what I am talking about.. This gadget tells me where I need to be with out launching Outlook.. it works in cache mode, etc.. Unfortunately, i am more aprehensive to share that because 1) the UI needs polishing.. 2) It is Outlook code, with PIAs, etc. so harder to package and install and I am not sure I can support it or clean it up enough 3) some one has already contributed a similar gadget to the community.. 4) with my luck, the office team beats me to it again...
So, I need ideas.. Share what your "must have gadget" is.. and I might just write it for you.. Here is my only criteria: I always say that "sidebar was designed to simplify your every day tasks" ... so I want some thing you will use a bit.. some thing that saves you 2 minutes of work a few times a day...
Actually, a second criteria.. for all those service providers/e-commerce enterprises working with me on early adoption projects: I am not writing your gadget... [reaching your customers via sidebar gadgets will make you bundals, least you can do is write your own]
For the rest, I do hope to hear from you ... I committ to writing one during month of september.. [ likely around the 18th or so, cause I have some committments coming]..