In the past, the word 'gadget' has almost always applied to a physical object that you could use for some unique purpose. Gadgets could be useful to the point of saving massive amounts of time and energy for their users, or they could be little more than interesting trinkets. Gadgets are almost always novel in some way or another though.
Now the word gadget has transcended the need to be a material object and also applies to some types of computer programs. Specifically Gadgets are now types of programs that are designed to be run on Microsoft's new Windows Vista operating system and to be run embedded in a special web based service offered by Microsoft. Because these gadgets come in two different varieties, those varieties are specified by the names of the gadgets. For example, Web Gadgets are embedded in the web page in a similar way to traditional applets. The Sidebar Gadgets are run in a special sidebar in the Windows Vista operating system.
These software Gadgets are available for download from a web site associated with Microsoft and perform a wide variety of functions. Web Gadgets can include programs that provide you with daily quotes, words of wisdom, games like hangman that you can embed in web pages, a clock displaying Greenwich Meridian Time, and software that can stream live video from web cams in various parts of the world (Europe seems to be especially popular). There are also HTML sandboxes and links to email that you can embed in a web page. One useful application that you can download and place in a web page is a text message window which will allow you and another person to communicate in real time from various websites.
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