How-To Geek

How-To Geek Bounty: $103.24(Paid!) for Active Desktop for Vista

Note: This article is part of our archive and is likely out of date.
(Links may not work, downloads have not been recently tested for safety)

Update: This bounty has been claimed.

One of the glaring changes in Windows Vista was the complete removal of Active Desktop, the feature that let you use a live web page as your background image, or in the case of some users, many live web pages. I’ve personally received emails from dozens of readers wondering how to get that feature back, and a number of readers have been interested in a replacement.

Reader Scott is interested in sponsoring a replacement for Active Desktop in Windows Vista. The How-To Geek will sponsor half of the bounty, which currently stands at a total of $103.24 for an open source replacement for this feature.

Here’s the feature details, for those unfamiliar:

  • The ability to display more than one web item on the desktop. Each could be a live web page or an image from a web page.
  • The web items must be “live”, meaning they will refresh dynamically and any links on a web page will be active, launching the preferred browser.
  • The items must be able to be resized and moved around.
  • The items should be “glued” to the desktop the same way Active Desktop used to be.
  • This should not be a Vista Sidebar gadget.
  • From a technical standpoint, it should not suck memory and CPU the way Vista Sidebar gadgets do.

Here’s an example image of what you could do with Active Desktop, which was pretty useful for people interested in tracking a lot of visual data such as the weather maps shown here (click to enlarge)


The rules:

  • We would prefer an open source replacement, so nobody can get rid of this feature again.
  • If you want to make a freeware closed source version, you can discuss that with Scott on the forum thread, but the Geek will sponsor open source software.
  • You can direct any questions or submissions to, or discuss on the forum thread.
  • The How-To Geek readers should get the first chance to read about the winner.

If you have questions or would like to discuss the details, there is an active forum thread for this bounty.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 07/27/07

Comments (5)

  1. Ave

    ActiveDesktop has been removed from Vista, and the underlying technology powering the way AD rendered itself does not seem to work correctly under vista.

  2. The Geek

    You should check out the forum thread… it looks like what Scott is looking for might actually be a bit simpler to implement than we thought, because he’s not necessarily looking for completely live gadgets.

  3. Santo

    Pls tell me how to add AD to Vista Home Premium? I know MS has removed this feature, but there should be some work around for this. Gadgets in Vista is resource hungry. I want to have my own HTML page on my Desktop and it is very bad to see that MS removed this feature for some reason!!

  4. Scott

    Congratulations to The Geek and Ave for having the patience and wisdom to see this through. I truly believe we’ve done something groundbreaking here.

  5. dirkus

    Yea this is something i use a lot with XP as well … shame it is gone in vista .. one more reason to hold off for windows 7

More Articles You Might Like

Enter Your Email Here to Get Access for Free:

Go check your email!