This week Microsoft hosted their Search Champs v4 event in Redmond where they invited an interesting group of people in to preview search-related products, strategy, and more in order to get some very direct feedback. I was there and although some of what was discussed was under tight NDA some things weren't. One of the more notable things here concerned live.com and gadgets.
Microsoft's live.com initiative is shaping-up to be more than just another "my" dashboard. Why? Because it's going to be a real Platform.
First of all this will be available online and offline with the same programming model supported in both (offline not only in the upcoming Windows Vista but also in an update to Windows XP). You'll be able to develop them together and then ultimately do things like drag and drop gadgets from your web page to the desktop or the other way round.
Secondly, while gadgets may at first glance seem like not much more than clocks, stock tickers and weather forecasts, there's a reasonably sophisticated programming model shaping-up under the covers. This will lead to some interesting development possibilities. For example, Microsoft's Sanaz Ahari, the PM for live.com, showed us a soon-to-be-released gadget that allows remote control of your Windows Media Center device from the portal. For a good summary and screenshot of this see TechCrunch. (And while Tivo and Yahoo are partnering it's not (yet) this type of developer-driven coding.)
Third, since the initial Live.com announcement back in November, developers have been out there creating some interesting gadgets. The recording gadget above is just one example. Visit microsoftgadgets.com to see. These are giving Yahoo Widgets a run for their money and it's Google who's the me-too entrant with their Modules.