I have tried quite a few of the freeware sidebar add on's for windows 8 and so far this is the best I have found to date you can even adjust transparency of the side bar.
I also use strat8 by stardock for the start menu not free $4.99
Get your sidebar and windows gadgets back in Windows 8
Now there is a completely renewed Thoosje Windows Sidebar 8 you can download free. It has his own unique developed independent windows gadgets system and runs on Windows 8. So you can get your windows gadgets back in Windows 8 or run it in older windows versions. For developers it's also possible to develop new gadgets for the free Windows Sidebar 8.
Thoosje windows Sidebar comes with 11 of the most used desktop gadgets like a clock gadget, Calendar gadget, CPU/memory gadget, Search gadgets, Hard Drive gadgets, Media player, quick launch, RSS feed gadget and more. An addtionional free gadget pack is under development now and will be released this year.
Home page: http://www.thoosje.com/