I saw "sidebar" demonstrations from Yahoo and Microsoft this week, and this is shaping up to be the new battleground for the hearts and minds of the Net-surfing public. For those of you who are not familiar, sidebars are always-present Web services positioned on your PC screen no matter what other application you're using. They can be in a vertical stack on the side of the screen or in discrete pieces called gadgets or widgets. People expect common services to include search, RSS news feeds, e-mail, IM, weather, stock tickers, and photo slide shows. Google's sidebar is already out in beta. Yahoo's goes into beta in June. And Microsoft's is in the Windows Vista mass beta, due out later this month.
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