Who doesn't love Windows gadgets? These simple desktop apps handle all kinds of jobs, from time and calendar displays to weather and news feeds and even games and utilities. Thoosje's Windows 7 Gadgets Pack is a free set of its 25 most popular Windows gadgets, with tons more available online. From Gadgets Pack's interface you can install gadgets with a single click. We tried it out in Windows 7 Home Premium SP1, though Thoosje offers a similar gadget pack for Windows 8.
Based on our choices, Gadgets Pack's installer placed desktop and start menu icons in our system, including a built-in uninstaller accessible from the program's start menu folder. We clicked the desktop icon, and the Gadgets Installer interface opened. It's a simple affair displaying five categories with sample previews and check boxes: Calendars, Clocks, CPU, Games, Search, and Tools. Clicking any category showed five gadgets for each. We could select the gadgets we wanted, then click Install Gadgets to install them all at once.
We clicked CPU and picked one that seemed to show a lot of detail. We clicked and installed it, but when it opened, every value was labeled with non-Western characters. We clicked what looked like a settings button and promptly rebooted our system. Then we removed the gadget in the usual way -- from the Windows Desktop Gadget manager, which for most users will be in the Control Panel under Appearance and Personalization.
We tried another CPU meter; it was much smaller and simpler, but it proved easy to read the data. The Tools category has a battery meter, calculator, weather widget, and other basics; the calendar and clock selections were similarly familiar. The Games section has some awesome old-school video games like Atari Asteroids and Pong as well as favorites such as Magic 8-Ball and Tic-Tac-Toe. Pong uses your keyboard's directional arrows, while Asteroids' screen expands to play.
All of Gadgets Pack's gadgets looked great, but several showed non-Western text, and the games don't quite match online versions. But these are free gadgets, after all.