I was really disappointed when Microsoft ended support for their “Desktop Gadgets” starting with Windows 8. Yes, I found a utility that allowed me to keep using them and wrote about it in Four Useful Add-Ons for Windows 8.
Sure, I had a way to run my old gadgets but support for them dried up once Microsoft ended their support. The good news is that I found a great replacement called Rainmeter.
Let’s start with the important information: it is free! It works on Window XP all the way through Windows 10. It has already taken over my desktop on one machine and the others will soon follow.
Instead of gadgets, Rainmeter has “skins” and there are hundreds (probably thousands) of them available. You’ll see a sample screenshot from my laptop at right with the skins I have loaded. Note that I have blacked out a couple of pieces of information for privacy and security reasons.
Most of the skins you’ll see are from the Gadgets collection which mimics the popular AddGadgets.com Windows Sidebar gadgets. There is also one piece from the SystemMonitor skin loaded.
Just because these are the skins useful and attractive to me doesn’t mean they are perfect for you. Explore the many options available until you find the perfect solution. Some skins are more functional (like these) and some are extremely creative with beautiful user interfaces.
Just remember it all starts with Rainmeter so get a copy of that first and then have fun customizing your desktop!