A February CTP (Community Technology Preview) of Microsoft's planned Windows Vista OS will feature Windows Sidebar and Gadgets technology for adding mini-applications such as video or audio feeds to the Windows desktop.

Gadgets providing access to these applications are represented by desktop icons. These icons are then organised on the scrollable Sidebar on the screen, Microsoft officials said at the combined Software Architecture Summit and Middleware Summit conferences yesterday.

This Sidebar and Gadgets combination can save users from having to access web pages for some everyday tasks. "Anything you've ever seen in a web page and then some will be possible in a desktop Gadget," said Brian Teutsch, program manager at Microsoft.

Gadgets can be developed for tasks such as showing traffic maps and weather screens. Developers can use tools including Visual Studio to build gadgets using HTML.

"[They use] anything that they've become familiar with to write HTML, and they use JavaScript," Teutsch said.

Following a demo of Windows Sidebar and Gadgets, conference attendee Jody Kerr, systems architect at Wells Fargo, described the technology as "killer" for enterprises.

"It takes away the need for building a lot of large-scale web applications when you can componentise them on the employee desktop," Kerr said.

Windows Vista is set to hit the market by the end of the year.

Also during the combined event yesterday, the company showed a software product codenamed Microsoft Motion, which is intended to evaluate capabilities in an organisation's business architecture. The technology provides data on how a business is performing compared with the way a user wants it to perform.