|Component of Microsoft Windows|
|Introduced in||Windows Longhorn build 3683|
|Last included in||Windows 7 build 6469|
|Replaced by||Desktop Gadget Gallery|
Windows Sidebar is a component of Microsoft Windows. It allows to place multiple gadgets that could show information such as time, weather, calendar, and system resources use in a vertical bar at one side of the desktop, as well as other downloadable ones. It was first introduced in Windows Longhorn build 3683 as an addition to
explorer.exe and was last seen in early builds of Windows 7 before being replaced by a similar gadget app.
History[edit | edit source]
Pre-reset Windows Longhorn/Vista[edit | edit source]
Windows Sidebar was one of the features introduced in Windows Longhorn, and build 3683 is the earliest to contain it. While it's disabled by default, it can be enabled from the Taskbar and Start Menu Properties menu. Its default position is the desktop's right side, but it could be moved also to the left side. It could also be combined with the taskbar, a feature that made it disappear while its items were moved to the Sidebar. Although there are no tiles pinned at first, they can be easily added from the context menu's "Add a Tile" option. As development progressed, more changes were introduced, such as a new taskbar with the Sidebar integrated to it, new or changed tiles, and appearance retouches.
For most of the development, the Sidebar used the Plex-like blue and the light gray from the Windows Classic theme as its only color schemes. The private M5-M6 Aero theme used a black Sidebar instead of the normal blue one. However, with the arrival of Milestone 7 build 4042 (Lab06_n) and the Slate theme in replacement of Plex, the Sidebar was updated to reflect this change, featuring now a darker gray as its predominant color. Since build 4074, if a theme file called
aero.msstyles is used, a transparent Aero-styled one will be used instead.
On several builds, particularly after build 4015,
explorer.exe is very unstable and often causes memory leaks. This is often because of the Sidebar which runs on it, meaning that it must be disabled to reduce their effects. While this problem disappeared for some time, chances of experiencing Explorer problems in general increased again with final builds such as those from the 408x line and build 4093.
Post-reset Windows Longhorn/Vista[edit | edit source]
Early builds compiled after the development reset of Longhorn had a more similar functionality to Windows XP, and thus didn't have any features from the pre-reset project implemented yet. While Beta 1 builds already contained some Longhorn features, the Sidebar wasn't still present, and the earliest available build to contain it was Beta 2 build 5212 (winmain). This time, the Sidebar was running on its own process,
sidebar.exe, instead of
explorer.exe, a change that was intended to reduce memory leaks and instabilities from the Longhorn project. This Sidebar also lost some of its previous capabilities, such as being combined with the taskbar, and most of its previous tiles, which by this point had been renamed as gadgets. In build 5342, some additional tiles were added, but none of them were from Longhorn.
Since the first build, the Sidebar had a design reminiscent from late builds of Longhorn, being a transparent black bar, although the color's opacity was decreased in this case. In later builds, the black color was removed, leaving a fully transparent bar that now only appeared when the cursor was placed over the Sidebar's area. Otherwise, a dark shadow would appear on its place.
Replacement[edit | edit source]
While the Sidebar was from a few changes that survived to the Longhorn development reset, it was quickly replaced in Windows 7 build 6519 with Desktop Gadget Gallery, a similar feature that allowed gadgets to be placed anywhere on the desktop, rather than just on a bar, and gave them independent customization options. Desktop Gadget Gallery, however, would run the same fate as Windows Sidebar since it was discontinued in Windows 8 due to security risks.
Gallery[edit | edit source]
Desktops[edit | edit source]
Sidebar in Longhorn build 3683
Sidebar in Longhorn build 3706 showing the merged taskbar
Sidebar in Longhorn build 3713 showing the taskbar integration
Sidebar in Longhorn build 4002
Sidebar in Longhorn build 4015 (main)
Sidebar in Longhorn build 4032
Sidebar in Longhorn build 4042 (Lab06_n)
Sidebar in Longhorn build 4074 (default)
Sidebar in Longhorn build 4074 (Aero UI)
Sidebar in Longhorn build 4093
Sidebar in Vista build 5212 (winmain) with Aero
Sidebar in Vista build 5384.4
Sidebar in 7 build 6469