Sky News in your Vista sidebar

I’m very impressed to see the new Sky News sidebar gadget for Windows Vista. A very easy install process gives a little Sky-branded box on the edge of your screen, with the latest headlines from five different feeds. Click on a headline, and you’ll see a summary of the item in question, with a link to the full story. If that sounds like an RSS feed, guess what. But the addition of photos takes it a step beyond the normal, dry RSS experience.

It’s not without its problems: they’ve only given themselves 20 characters (ish) per line, and just two lines. If a longer headline stretches into a third line, it’s going to get unceremoniously cropped – and flicking through the headlines displayed as I type this, roughly half get trimmed. One or two, you could probably forgive. And I can’t see any way to tweak the refresh rate.

But hey, full credit to them for delivering this. Increasing the potential points of access for the service is exactly the right thing to be doing, especially when it’s little more than an RSS feed (and, one assumes, entirely automated). And it doesn’t do any harm to do this before the competition: I can only find unofficial gadgets for the BBC site.