The lineal descendants of Apple's Desktop Accessories, small programs you probably wouldn't have paid for, today's Widgets are more useful (thanks to their ability to access online data), more colorful, and more popular.
According to Newsweek, 2007 is the Year of the Widget. (It is also the Year of the Pig, International Polar Year, International Heliophysical Year, and Year of the Dolphin.)
Apple, Microsoft, and Google all offer Widgets. Microsoft used to call them "Active Desktop Items." Now, like Google, it calls them "Gadgets." Yahoo claims it offers the "only major cross-OS desktop Widget platform."
In addition to desktop Widgets, there are Web Widgets. As one might surmise, Web Widgets live and work in a Web browser. Desktop Widgets, though they may access the Internet, live on a computer's desktop.
Widgets 4 features a new Widget Dock that can be hidden automatically and attached to any side or corner of the screen, even with multiple monitors.
It also boasts a reduction in memory consumption of up to 40% and a better installation process that makes it easier for authors to promote their widgets.
A new Flickr Widget comes with the Widgets 4 release. It's designed to simplify the display, uploading, and tagging of photos. Widgets 4 also updates 21 widgets from an earlier release.
Best of all, there's a Widget for ... finding Widgets. The Yahoo Gallery Widget lets users search the Yahoo Widget Gallery, a collection of 4,300 widgets created and submitted by the Internet community.