Once upon a time, there was an upcoming release of Windows that spent much of 2003 “just around the corner “. This future release was to be a minor update, with one of the primary end-user features touted being a new extension to the native explorer.exe shell, the Windows Sidebar. That release was called Windows Longhorn, which became Windows Vista.
Windows Vista did indeed come with a Sidebar, but not the exact one Microsoft had originally envisioned – instead of being an extension to the explorer.exe shell, the Sidebar was now a separate application that ran mini web-based applications called gadgets. Gadgets continued to be apart of Windows Vista and Windows 7, but were planned to see an untimely, yet not unexpected death with Windows 8.
However, it looks the end of Windows Gadgets might be here before expected. Microsoft has just issued an advisory recommending users disable Windows Sidebar and it’s gadgets due to a recently discovered security hole. More specifically, Microsoft is warning that “an attacker who successfully exploited a Gadget vulnerability could run arbitrary code in the context of the current user.” In other words, a rogue gadget could essentially be enough to give a hacker access to your entire PC. Uhhoh.
It’s not yet clear if Microsoft is planning to patch this exploit, but we’d imagine that Microsoft will simply continue to recommend users either disable their gadgets or upgrade to Windows 8.
Windows Sidebar, we hardly knew thee.