Windows Sideshow, the future

Windows SideShowWindows SideShow is one of those features that has been implemented in Windows Vista since day one, but no one ever finds interesting or talks about. I’m speculating the cause of that is the lack of SideShow-compatible devices on the market. Although I’m sure thats a tiny problem, right? No loving review samples to go around. :(

Everyone’s impression of Windows SideShow is most likely a reminiscence of the Channel9 video which featured a demo on the faux-standard SideShow demo device, the ASUS W5Fe prototype. Or perhaps the glassy digital picture frame. Ever since, everyone’s imagination has probably been confined only to a bulky looking PDA glued to the back of a laptop or executive-priced picture frames. But that’s where you’re wrong.

Here is an illustration I found in the MSDN Library which shows off very well, the potential of SideShow.

SideShow devices

And there’s also an example of the expected interface on SideShow devices. Of course, in the hands of OEMs, that’ll get turned into a mash-up of bevels and drop shadows like Intel knows best.

SideShow interface example

But the most interesting out of all this is not what you can see, but who’s behind all this. The primary manufacturer behind the hardware technology is PortalPlayer, recently acquired by NVIDIA. You might remember PortalPlayer as the sole provider of the system-on-chip solution for all iPods until 2006 when Apple switched manufacturers. Oh the irony. But what could this mean for SideShow and Microsoft?

Could you imagine, a device that can be attached to a laptop and serve as a mini-PDA for when situations when your laptop is inappropriate, and when detached, lives a double life as a phone, PDA, media player and remote control? I know I can.

SideShow detached prototype device

10 insightful thoughts

  1. If i am serious, but yes i am Serious, i was thinking it as a projector or photo slideshow setting panel in control panel… now i know what it for… infact i know abt these prototype features from long ago.
    thanx long zheng
    keep the gud things up!

  2. That is one small screen 😛
    Do these things come with magnifying glass? And a few extra pounds of muscles to be able to hold the computer for a while?

  3. I always thougth that sideshow could be a key winning feature of vista (Memento frame could be very nice). And I do hope that Ms make Zune and Xbox360 Sideshow compatible … It would be the only thing that would make me buy a zune in fact …

  4. if you want to see how sideshow behaves, microsoft has included an emulator in the latest windows vista platform SDK

    the program is available at these locations when this sdk is installed:

    “C:\Program Files\Microsoft SDKs\Windows\v6.0\Bin\VirtualSideShow.exe”
    “C:\Program Files\Microsoft SDKs\Windows\v6.0\Bin\WindowsSideShowVirtualDevice.exe”

    one installs emulator driver, the other IS the emulator

    in platform sdk documentation, microsoft says the use of sideshow requires the computer to be powered on, or at least, to be sleeping in order the sideshow device to wake him to retrieve data as needed (sideshow devices are not going to be able to cache your entire mp3 collection!)

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