Desktop weather displays aren't as old as talking about the weather, but it sometimes seems that way. There's no shortage of online weather and forecast data to pull from, so they all do the job pretty well. What's left boils down to a combination of features and appearance, mostly appearance. That's certainly the case with MobilityFlow's Animated Weather Free, a desktop widget for Windows XP, Vista, and 7. It stands out by virtue of its realistic animated weather effects, which add a nice touch to current condition displays and forecasts as well as the quick comprehension and recall associated with images, especially moving images.
Animated Weather Free sports an attractive widget-style interface that can be dragged around and pinned to the desktop, viewed always on top, or minimized to the system tray. It opens without a city selected, so the first thing we did was search for and retrieve our local conditions. The program's default weather server is AccuWeather, but several more are available on a drop-down list on the tabbed settings dialog. This dialog offered options for updates, time and date, languages, units, skins, and more. After we'd entered our location, the program returned with our local time, temperature, and conditions displayed, including an attractive "partly sunny" view that closely matched our Eyewitness Weather reports. Beneath that were subtle but clear displays for lunar phase, precipitation, wind, and such, and at the bottom, the program's control and settings icons, including a refresh button to retrieve the latest conditions on demand. Animated Weather Free operates much like Windows Media Center, with arrows that scroll between displays both up and down and right to left, so we were able to scroll through a week's worth of forecasts for day and night. We like the way the animated Moon view displays the correct phase in night forecasts, in addition to the graphic display. It was easy to adjust the transparency and other effects to suit our needs and taste. Only the default skin is provided, but you can search online for new skins.
Animated Weather Free is a contender for most attractive Windows widget we've seen, and not just among weather widgets. Whether its forecasts are as good is up to the meteorologists, but that's an old story, too.