Desktop Widgets 101

For those of you who don’t know the basics of widgets, or the difference between desktop and web widgets, check out this surprisingly unbiased overview post on the Yahoo Widgets blog where they talk about the pros and cons of the four major desktop widget platforms offered by Yahoo, Microsoft, Google and Apple.

A key factor when deciding which platforms to consider when building a widget is the overall distribution and the ability to build a single widget for desktop and web use. It’s going to be hard to argue against Vista when thinking in those terms, which will very quickly have greater distribution than all of the others combined on the desktop. And Vista widgets also work on pages. For companies with enough resources, however, building on all four platforms is relatively straightforward.

The post leaves out all of the widget startups, like Fox-backed SpringWidgets. And more are coming soon. Developers should keep an eye on those platforms as well and build to them if and when they gain traction.