Having a fancy desktop leaves you vulnerable.
Microsoft has recently announced an automated fix which disables Windows Sidebar and Gadgets on all supported versions of Windows Vista and 7. Basically running Windows Sidebar or Gadgets can allow hackers to exploit recently discovered vulnerabilities, allowing them to run malicious code in the background.
“Disabling the Windows Sidebar and Gadgets can help protect customers from vulnerabilities that involve the execution of arbitrary code by the Windows Sidebar when running insecure Gadgets. In addition, Gadgets installed from untrusted sources can harm your computer and can access your computer’s files, show you objectionable content, or change their behavior at any time. An attacker who successfully exploited a Gadget vulnerability could run arbitrary code in the context of the current user. If the current user is logged on with administrative user rights, an attacker could take complete control of the affected system. An attacker could then install programs; view, change, or delete data; or create new accounts with full user rights. ”
For the time being, and for the foreseeable future, at the very least, it seems like watching pictures on the side along with big calendars, system and other “fun” gadgets will no longer be the case.