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Opinion: SideShow - Even Microsoft has a Good Idea Occasionally

Mat Lu

You can file this one under the "even a stopped clock is right twice a day" if you like, but I will now commit the grievous sin of suggesting that there is an interesting feature in Vista that I'd actually like to see Apple implement in some form. It is called SideShow, and it allows computer makers to build in a a secondary display for showing a variety of information. So for instance, a notebook might have a secondary display on the back side of the main display that would allow you to glance at your calendar (on the right), see music track information, or even check email without opening the laptop. What runs on these little displays are Microsoft's Dashboard widget equivalent: gadgets.

Even before SideShow many PC geeks (especially on Linux) have been using USB LCD displays, which are small monochrome displays that plug into a USB port and can provide system diagnostic information (temperatures, fans speeds, etc.) or even, with the proper drivers, indicate new email, etc. Unfortunately, OS X lacks any kind of drivers for these secondary displays, though someone has managed to build LCDproc for OS X. Personally, I'd love to have something like SideShow for the Mac, either built-in to the outside of a new MacBook, or even on something like Emtrace's stand-alone WidgetStation, which would run Dashboard widgets. With the iPhone apparently having some sort of widgets, Apple is already moving them beyond the desktop, so it wouldn't even be that much of a stretch.

So what do you think, TUAW readers, am I nuts for thinking Microsoft has a cool idea here?

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