Microsoft Windows Vista SideShow – In-Depth (pics)

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Windows Vista SideShow
Highlight of the Asus integration of Vista SideShow

Windows Vista SideShow is a secondary display that’s going to be built into notebooks and Tablet PCs in the second half of this year. The display can be used to view email, calendar, and other Outlook data, in addition to light gaming and other gadgets. SideShow displays are self powered, so they work even when the host device is turned off. This is just the first step though. The platform allows for SideShow to be built into other devices as well, like keyboards, phones, display casings and remote controls.

Microsoft Windows Vista SideShow
Close up of SideShow in the Asus notebook (view larger)

Windows Vista SideShow was pretty significant at the CES this year. Of course Microsoft is talking up the release of Vista, but what often gets lost in the shuffle are all these smaller components of the operating system that will really empower users to have more control and more access to their data. In regards to SideShow specifically, the ability to check calendar appointments without opening or powering up the machine is relatively useful.

Windows Vista SideShow
Main calendar view

Windows Vista SideShow
Detailed calendar view

Windows Vista SideShow
Mapping gadget

When the host machine is turned off, the data viewed on the SideShow display is cached, so it’s not actively updating. What you get is a snapshot of the most current version of your inbox, contacts or other gadgets. When the machine is powered on and online, the SideShow display will have real time data. This hold true for associated SideShow devices that are not integrated into the host machine as well.

Microsoft Windows Vista SideShow
Early version of SideShow management in Vista (view larger)

Microsoft Windows Vista SideShow
SideShow device management in Vista (view larger)

SideShow is actually a product of the SPOT team, the ones behind MSN Direct. While it doesn’t look like SideShow devices will receive MSN Direct content, at least not right away, the technology driving the displays comes from them.

The future of SideShow integrations is wide open. The deployment you see in these images with the Asus notebook is just the first step. We’ve talked with people close to the development of this tool and they indicated versions of SideShow have already been produced that let the display be removed from the host machine. This particular version even includes an MP3 player with an audio jack and either dedicated RAM or a memory card slot.

Microsoft Windows Vista SideShow
SideShow on a two-line monochrome display (view larger)

The implications are serious for mobile computing. What if this SideShow display gets refined enough where it could have a touch screen and essentially be used as a PDA? So long as it’s usable with contacts, calendar and email, along with the other software gadgets that will be coming to market, this might solve a lot of mobile computing issues. SideShow is also going to be added to different types of devices, like mobile phones, that will pair with your main Vista computer, further extending your ability to interact remotely.

SideShow is still young, but with Windows Vista coming, and new machines with it, having the full picture of the new features is important. We’ll continue to feature new aspects of Vista as the release approaches to give a more in-depth look at what’s behind the new operating system.

Microsoft Windows Vista SideShow
Asus notebook with Vista SideShow (view larger)

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