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Vista sets up SideShow display all over

Microsoft's tech aims to put data in picture frames, keyboards, remote controls--any display linked to a PC running the Windows update.

SEATTLE--Microsoft wants hardware makers to create a "SideShow" to Windows Vista.

At its Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) here on Tuesday, Microsoft showed off how display technology in the next Windows version can be used in devices such as keyboards, electronic picture frames and remote controls.

The technology, dubbed "SideShow," can be used to display items--such as pictures, calendar reminders, e-mail alerts, media playlists and instant messages--on auxiliary displays connected to a PC running the operating system, Microsoft said. Vista, the successor to XP, is slated to be broadly available in January next year.

Certified for Windows Vista logo
A product with this logo
works well with Vista.

Microsoft pitched SideShow last year as way for PC makers to include an extra display on laptop lids. The Redmond, Wash.-based software maker bills Vista as "the best operating system for mobile PCs," and the extra, cell phone-like displays on the lids could help people check the time or battery status, for example, without opening and starting the PC.

At WinHEC on Tuesday, Microsoft plugged the display technology as useful for home users as well.

"SideShow doesn't stop with just mobile PCs," Greg Graceffo, a senior product manager in Microsoft's Windows group, said in a presentation here. "It really creates a lot of opportunities to create combinations of hardware and software that leverage the power of Windows Vista."

This logo indicates basic compatibility

One maker of electronic picture frames has already agreed to include SideShow, Graceffo said. That frame will ship when Vista becomes available, he said. With SideShow, pictures can be overlaid with information from the PC. Microsoft has also played with SideShow in a Logitech keyboard and a remote control with a display, he said.

At the same time, Microsoft launched a new logo program for hardware and software companies that make their technology compatible with Vista. Items carrying the new "Certified for Windows Vista" logo should appear later this year, Microsoft said.

"'Certified for' products are products that will give users the best experience with Windows Vista," said Dave Wascha, Microsoft's director of partner marketing for the operating system.

The logo program also includes a "Works with Windows Vista" designation, which only indicates basic compatibility, Microsoft said. This logo is for products that haven't been specifically designed to take advantage of Vista features, but do work with the new operating system, Wascha said.