With the release of Microsoft Vista, gadgets were introduced for the first time as part of a kernel windows OS.
How MS dropped the ball: not actually making any useful gadgets. Take for example the calendar gadget. Logically, you would think that this would sync with Windows Calendar, displaying upcoming events and tasks.
Nope. Just gonna tell you the date really big. Another prime example is the Windows Media Player Sidebar gadget. They advertised one that looks great, and very useful. Turns out its just a Photoshop mockup....not an actual gadget you can use. its like MS thinks its some kind of kinky tease, to promise useful things then be like "not! HA!". Makes me feel like their bitch.
How to compensate for their failure:
Yahoo Widgets is a great alternative with a lot more widgets to choose from.
I’m especially a fan of the “daily planner” widget, that can show you a whole month or more at a time of upcoming events that you can colorize by category. You can also sync it with Google Calendar, if you need your calendar online.