Featured Freeware: Yahoo Widgets

Possibly unbeknownst to Google obsessives, Yahoo has its own miniapp desktop dock--Yahoo Widgets. It's an excellent place for desktop odds and ends, and for those who use Yahoo Mail and other Yahoo services.

Although Google's Desktop is arguably the better-known miniapp desktop dock, the latest version of Yahoo Widgets--formerly known as the Widget Engine--is an excellent alternative for Windows and Mac users, making customization easier than before. It also comes with a revamped look.

The app has 22 default widgets, including a weather forecaster, a Yahoo Mail manager, a Wi-Fi signal checker, a calendar, and an iTunes remote. Though the true value of the app should be judged on the quality of the widgets developed, the platform itself is polished and easy to use.

A helpful tour introduces users to the basics of widgets, offering up some examples. Adding and removing widgets is simple, and the new widget dock features more personalization options. Most widgets include tweaks such as skinning options. Other new improvements include ALT+Tab menu access and helpful configuration buttons that appear when you mouse over a widget. Yahoo Widgets does insert itself into your start-up programs without asking, but that can be fixed in Preferences. It's an excellent tool for users of any of Yahoo's services.