Windows SideShow

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Windows SideShow
Windows SideShow.png
Windows SideShow executing on Windows SideShow Simulator
Developer(s) Microsoft
Operating system Windows 8
Windows 7
Windows Vista
Windows Mobile
Windows CE
Platform .NET Framework
.NET Micro Framework
Website Windows SideShow

Windows SideShow was a technology introduced in Windows Vista that enables Windows PCs to drive a variety of auxiliary display devices connected to the main PC. These devices can be separate from or integrated into the main PC (e.g., a display embedded on the outside of a laptop lid), enabling access to information and media even when the PC is (mostly) turned off. SideShow can also drive the display of PC data on mobile phones and other devices that are connected via Bluetooth or other wireless network protocols.

SideShow display devices can be updated with a number of different kinds of information, such as contacts, maps, calendar appointments, and e-mail messages. They can then be consulted when the PC is otherwise powered down. Since the underlying platform is so power-efficient, SideShow displays integrated into laptops can run for hundreds of hours without draining the laptop battery,[citation needed] while still providing always-on access to data and multimedia content.

SideShow is coupled to the Windows Sidebar (Microsoft Gadgets) and can easily be extended to be compatible with SideShow secondary displays. However, hardware and software providers can also provide native abilities to allow for richer multimedia applications such as text, image, audio and video decode/playback. For example, a notebook with an in-lid display could be used as an MP3 player while powered down, with the notebook battery providing hundreds of hours of playback time because of the low power footprint that the SideShow platform maintains.


An auxiliary display feature was first presented by Microsoft during the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference in 2004 where it was scheduled to be included in Windows Vista, then known by its codename, "Longhorn."[1] This auxiliary display feature was intended for tablet PCs and other mobile devices, and would provide users with up-to-date information at a glance. Microsoft's primary purpose with this feature was to increase the value of the Windows operating system in new mobile scenarios.[2]

SideShow APIs[edit]

A Windows SideShow gadget is written by programming for the Windows SideShow Platform application programming interface (API), a native COM-based API available with the Microsoft Windows Vista operating system. A managed API for .NET developers was also released, and includes Visual Studio 2005/2008 templates to demonstrate how to write gadgets.

Devices for Windows SideShow have different hardware traits than devices such as cell phones or PDAs. The former have their own processor; they need not rely solely on the connecting computer for processing tasks. There are online and offline abilities that allow the device to run larger components on the connecting computer. The following list contains typical device display types and technologies.

Auxiliary display types
Device type Description
Enhanced display Renders full color content including text and images, e.g. a device running Microsoft's rendering code for the .NET Micro Framework.
Single line display Can show one or two lines of text, but supports no images.
Attached display, lid top Located on the body of a PC (notebook, desktop, or server), e.g. on the top of a laptop's lid, or a media center's front panel.
Remote display Located off of the PC, and talks to the PC through a wired or wireless network protocol.

Hardware-specific, native applications that provide rich-media experiences like audio and video playback that can be accessed through the SideShow user interface require the SDK from the specific platform vendor. For example, PortalPlayer, Inc. provides the Preface platform that includes abilities like MP3, AAC, MPEG-4 encode-decode and other digital media formats.

Market acceptance[edit]

Few OEMs accepted SideShow.

In 2007, Asus announced the W5Fe, a laptop with a full-color, 2.8-inch SideShow display on the front cover.[3]

In 2006, after being featured at WinHEC, the 7-inch and 10-inch "Momento" digital photo frames were released by their developer, A Living Picture,[4] and provided Sideshow functionality over WiFi. They were subsequently marketed by i-mate along with its Momento Live picture service,[5] before being shut down in 2009.[6]

In October 2007, Dell released the XPS 420,[7] which included a Sideshow device on the top front of the machine.[8] It was not widely promoted, found little use[9] and was quietly dropped when the XPS 430 came out a year later.[10]

On February 1, 2010, Ikanos Consulting announced Threemote, a suite of Windows SideShow-compatible products for embedded platforms including Windows Mobile, Google Android, and Kopin Golden-i.[11] Threemote appears unsupported and had been unavailable from the Android Market for some time as of September 2011, nor was it available for Windows Mobile. In a blog posting in April 2010, the technical director of Ikanos consulting said that Sideshow was not dead and Threemote was "bubbling along".[12]

On February 7, 2012, Chris James released "MS Sideshow Device",[13] an implementation of a Windows Sideshow device for Google Android.

Microsoft discontinued the Sideshow gallery. A duplication of the sideshow gallery content is available at Windows Sidebar Gadget Gallery.[14]

With the introduction of Windows 8.1, Microsoft discontinued the technology and removed support for SideShow devices from the operating system.[15]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]