Windows SideShow

Windows SideShow is a technology developed by Microsoft and introduced in the Windows Vista operating system that is designed to provide information such as the number of unread e-mail messages or RSS feeds on a secondary display of a Windows-based device; displays may be integrated as part of a device itself or included as part of a separate component connected to a personal computer.[1] SideShow integrates with the Windows Gadgets feature of Windows Vista and Windows 7[2] and can also integrate with applications such as Windows Media Center.[3]

Windows SideShow
Windows SideShow running on a simulator
Operating systemMicrosoft Windows
TypeAuxiliary display platform
Website(From the archive)

SideShow has been discontinued as of Windows 8.1.[4]


Windows Vista

Auxiliary displays were listed by Microsoft among other forms of information indicators for personal computers during the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference of 2003.[5] An auxiliary display feature was later presented by Microsoft during the WinHEC 2004 where it was scheduled to be included in Windows Vista, then known by its codename, "Longhorn."[6] It was intended for tablet PCs and other mobile devices to provide users with up-to-date information at a glance and to increase the value of the Windows operating system in new mobile scenarios.[7] Auxiliary display support was included among other mobile features scheduled for the operating system, including Windows Mobility Center, speech recognition, and Windows HotStart, and was listed as part of Microsoft's mobile PC strategy.[8][9] A prototype auxiliary display device was demonstrated by Intel at the Intel Developer Forum conference in fall of 2004.[10]

In February 2005, Microsoft announced that the first beta version of Windows Vista, then codenamed "Longhorn," would include support for the feature; a preliminary software development kit would also be released concurrently with the operating system.[10] At WinHEC 2005, Microsoft released details about the SideShow development platform and discussed new scenarios enabled by the technology.[11] Prototypes were also produced by several original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and displayed at the conference.[12][13] Microsoft would release details a year later at WinHEC 2006 where additional hardware was also displayed.[14]

Windows Vista was released to manufacturing on November 8, 2006 and includes two SideShow gadgets, one for Windows Mail and one for Windows Media Player.[15][16] Microsoft Office 2007, released to manufacturing on the same day as Windows Vista, included an Outlook 2007 calendar gadget for SideShow.[16]

Windows 7

With Windows 7 Microsoft introduced multiple user support for gadgets, improved the reliability and resiliency of SideShow APIs for gadgets on multiple devices, improved asynchronous processing throughput, and updated the SideShow control panel experience with changes such as a more prominent link to settings and the introduction of tooltip descriptions for gadgets.[17]


Windows SideShow displays can be embedded as part of a device itself or as a separate component. Examples include an electronic visual display integrated as part of a keyboard, or digital photo frames that can receive information wirelessly; wireless devices are connected to a personal computer through wireless network technologies, including Bluetooth and Wi-Fi; manufacturers may also produce detachable displays.[7][11] Sideshow devices display various types of information, such as contacts, calendar appointments, e-mail, maps, RSS feeds, and can serve as indicators for system information such as battery life and wireless network strength.[7][11] Microsoft has published documentation which suggests additional uses for SideShow devices, such as the ability to transmit information and notifications received from a computer across televisions and set-top boxes,[18] and the ability to serve as a second screen for PC games and their content (e.g., character statistics or maps) and to enable new multitasking scenarios during gameplay.[19]

SideShow features integration with the Windows desktop gadget feature of Windows Vista and Windows 7, which enables a single gadget to operate simultaneously on a user's desktop while supplying data across devices.[2]

SideShow uses the Windows Portable Devices infrastructure to communicate with devices;[11] when viewed as a portable device in File Explorer, users can also adjust and interact with the files included as part of auxiliary displays.[20] Auxiliary displays appear in Device Manager and integrate with Windows Vista's Function Discovery technology.[11]

Development platform

A gadget developed for SideShow is written by programming for the Windows SideShow Platform application programming interface—a native code COM-based API introduced in Windows Vista.[21] A managed API for .NET Framework developers was also released by Microsoft, and includes development templates for Visual Studio 2005 and Visual Studio 2008. To aid in the development of gadgets, Microsoft released a SideShow simulator that emulates the functionality of a SideShow-compatible device, thereby allowing developers to test the appearance and functionality of gadgets without requiring physical hardware.[22][23]

Devices for Windows SideShow have different hardware traits than devices such as mobile phones or PDAs. The former have their own processor; they need not rely solely on a connection to a computer for processing tasks. There are online and offline abilities that allow the device to run larger components on the connected 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, Nvidia provides the Preface platform that includes abilities like MP3, AAC, MPEG-4 encode-decode and other digital media formats.[24]

Market acceptance

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.[25]

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,[26] and provided Sideshow functionality over WiFi. They were subsequently marketed by i-mate along with its Momento Live picture service,[27] before being shut down in 2009.[28]

In October 2007, Dell released the XPS 420,[29] which included a Sideshow device on the top front of the machine.[30] It was not widely promoted, found little use[31] and was quietly dropped when the XPS 430 came out a year later.[32]

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.[33] 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".[34]

On February 7, 2012, Chris James released "MS Sideshow Device",[35] 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.[36]

With the introduction of Windows 8.1, Microsoft discontinued the technology and removed support for SideShow devices from the operating system.[37]

See also


  1. Polivy, Dan (2006). "Building Remote And Integrated Auxiliary Display Devices for Windows SideShow". Microsoft. Archived from the original (PPT) on December 14, 2005. Retrieved April 23, 2015.
  2. Microsoft. "Extending a Windows Sidebar Gadget to Windows SideShow". MSDN. Retrieved May 22, 2015.
  3. LeBlanc, Brandon (October 21, 2008). "Windows Media Center Gadgets for Windows SideShow Released". Blogging Windows. Microsoft. Retrieved May 22, 2015.
  4. Microsoft (January 14, 2014). "Has Windows SideShow been removed from Windows 8.1?". Answers Community. Retrieved April 23, 2015.
  5. Bear, Eric (2003). "Designing Intuitive Hardware Controls". Microsoft. Archived from the original (EXE) on August 8, 2003. Retrieved September 21, 2015.
  6. Thurrott, Paul (October 6, 2010). "WinHEC 2004 'Longhorn' Prototypes Gallery". Supersite for Windows. Penton Media. Retrieved March 13, 2015.
  7. Fuller, Andrew; Schoppa, Chris (2004). "Auxiliary Displays For Mobile PCs". Microsoft. Archived from the original (PPT) on December 14, 2005. Retrieved March 13, 2015.
  8. Suokko, Matti (2004). "Windows For Mobile PCs And Tablet PCs - CY05 And Beyond". Microsoft. Archived from the original (PPT) on December 14, 2005. Retrieved July 15, 2015.
  9. Fish, Darrin (2004). "Windows For Mobile PCs and Tablet PCs - CY04". Microsoft. Archived from the original (PPT) on December 14, 2005. Retrieved July 15, 2015.
  10. Foley Jo, Mary (February 9, 2005). "Microsoft Details New Longhorn Display Functionality". PC Magazine. Ziff Davis. Retrieved August 5, 2015.
  11. Fuller, Andrew (2005). "Auxiliary Display Platform for 'Longhorn'". Microsoft. Archived from the original (PPT) on December 14, 2005. Retrieved April 23, 2015.
  12. Thurrott, Paul (October 6, 2010). "WinHEC 2005 Show Report and Photo Gallery". Supersite for Windows. Penton. Retrieved April 23, 2015.
  13. ExtremeTech (April 26, 2005). "WinHEC 2005–Day Two". Ziff Davis Media. Retrieved April 26, 2005.
  14. Blass, Evan (May 23, 2006). "Microsoft demos SideShow-enabled products at WinHEC". Engadget. AOL. Retrieved April 23, 2015.
  15. Geier, Eric (May 29, 2008). "Introducing Windows Vista - Windows SideShow". Que Publishing. Pearson Education. Retrieved May 7, 2015.
  16. Thurrott, Paul (October 6, 2010). "Windows Vista Review, Part 5: Windows Vista Features: Mobility Features". SuperSite for Windows. Penton. Retrieved September 17, 2016.
  17. "Windows SideShow: Building Better Devices and PCs". Windows Hardware Engineering Conference. Microsoft. 2008. Archived from the original (PPTX) on December 23, 2008. Retrieved March 28, 2018.
  18. Microsoft (October 30, 2008). "Windows SideShow and Television and Set-Top Boxes". Archived from the original (DOCX) on December 22, 2008. Retrieved May 22, 2015.
  19. Microsoft (May 28, 2009). "Compelling Solutions for PC Gamers by Using Windows SideShow" (DOCX). Retrieved May 22, 2015.
  20. Shimpi, Anand (January 11, 2007). "CES 2007 Part I: Convergence Happened and the Most Impressive Demo of CES - SideShow in Action". AnandTech. Purch. Retrieved December 22, 2015.
  21. "Introduction to the Windows SideShow Platform". MSDN. Microsoft. Retrieved April 23, 2015.
  22. "Simulator for Windows SideShow". MSDN. Microsoft. Retrieved April 23, 2015.
  23. Lee, Meng-Wei (March 1, 2007). "Windows Vista SideShow Gadgets: Little Apps, Big Impact". DevX. QuinStreet. Retrieved April 25, 2015.
  24. Nvidia. "Preface". Retrieved May 12, 2015.
  25. Hands-on with the i-mate Momento 70
  26. Engadget: Dell XPS 420 slated for October 19th launch
  27. "Some MiniView display modes"
  28. HighTech Review: Dell XPS 430 Desktop PC unleashed
  29. Threemote website
  30. Discussion in Windows Experts Community, with contribution from Ikanos director: ThreeMote - Sideshow for Android & Windows Mobile
  31. MS Sideshow Free
  32. Windows Sidebar Gadget Gallery
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