Don't you mean Konfabulator was a glint in Steve Jobs eye? That "widget" project was released in February 2003. When did the Longhorn pre-beta come out?
What are you smoking on? by 2002-2003 there was this handy linux app called 'Karamba' which could be used to greate widgets to KDE desktop... It's follower is called SuperKaramba and comes with current KDE-3.5 release.
Karamba was loosely inspired by windows program called Samurize and another linux program called GKrellM
So, in theory, we will never know about originator where did Apple take their idea for Dashboard which is basicly Karamaba with steroids. And I do not belive that Apple could have built dashboard in couple of months like the way they did. I belive that since
KDE-project and Apple have done together projects in past like KHTML which Apple calls as Webkit. (it also includes other KDE project components...) There is a good change that Dashboard is Karamba with steroids like the SuperKaramba is. KDE4 will include
Apple widget support in it's SuperKaramba something follower alike program which is at this moment called Plasma.
Also Microsoft gadget board from 2003 was real windows taskbar panel integrated into it and was not separate program which you could take out apps or add applets into it. It was no way even near the Dashboard. It's just plain and simple truth that Microsoft has copied Dashboard from Apple and re-edited it to make it look a like their past additional panel which had all stuff hardcoded into. If you ask me, it was more useful in that way that what it is at currently. And yes, I used the leaked 4074 beta... :] I hope you won't shoot/kick/ban/flame/etc. me now.
4074 has a lot of more stuff than what Beta2 does have. It's like power user's dream OS. Unfortunately everything it is a experiemental stage. Oh by the way, if somebody at microsoft is able to read this, then please, please add that new Device Manager from 4074 if possible to Vista or at least into Vienna. It totally rocks. Also I'd totally love to have improved Jade-theme too. It was beautiful in
it's own way and it's big blue next and previous buttons where realistic re-innovation in OS. 40xx had lots of good ideas. It's pretty bad to see that most of those have been scrapped in Beta2 which could have been so much more than just a update to security.