By far one of the least-known components of Vista is Windows Sideshow. This handy tool can be used in conjunction with compatible devices to display all manner of information on a secondary screen or mobile device. From notebook PCs with a main screen and a smaller secondary display, to mobile phones, a wide range of devices can be used to keep up to date when away from your computer. Through the use of ‘Gadgets’, supplementary displays can be used to view information fromwebsites and programs without the need to use your computer in the usual way. These mini programs can display information from your email client, draw the latest news from the internet and much more. Here, we show you how to get started with this obscure, yet deceptively powerful, tool.
The number of devices that support the Windows Vista Sideshow feature is increasing, but currently Sideshow is mainly found on notebook computers. Sideshow-compatible devices, such as the Asus W5Fe (http://uk.asus.com), look like an ordinary portable PC, complete with keyboard and standard screen. But when the notebook is closed, an additional smaller screen can be found on the lid. This auxiliary display can be powered whether the laptop is switched on, powered down, or in sleepmode. As the contents of the screen can be viewed even when the computer is not switched on, it is possible to keep up to date with important information, without wasting precious battery power. For example, the contents of your email inbox is at your fingertips without needing to boot into Windows.
Sideshow is not limited to notebook computers. There are a variety of devices that offer support in one form or another. Devices such as remote controls and digital photo frames, such as the Imate Momento (www.momentolive.com), can display Sideshow Gadgets, which are essentially mini applications. The number and range of gadgets availablemeans that devices that previously had a single function — such as controlling a television or displaying digital photos — can be extended into much more useful tools. A compatible TV remote can be used to check emails while watching the television, while a digital photo frame can display not only images, but also the weather forecast or instant messaging conversations. With so many Gadgets to choose from, there is virtually no limit to what can be achieved.
A piece of beta software from Microsoft can also be used to bring the power of Sideshow wirelessly to Pocket PCs and smartphones running Windows Mobile 5 or 6. To connect a device of this type using Sideshow, your computermust have Bluetooth capability and your mobile device needs to have .NET Compact Framework 2.0 9 (www.tinyurl.com/rmje9) installed. To download the Sideshow for Windows Mobile tool, visit www.tinyurl.com/4t936h and click the Download button. Save the executable file to the desktop and once the download is complete, double-click it to start the installation.
The installer will offer to extract the files to a folder of your choice. Once extracted, connect your Windows Mobile device to the computer using a USB cable and select the option to browse the device. If .NET Compact Framework 2.0 is not installed, copy the file NETCFv2.wm.armv4i.cab to the My Documents folder, run the file, then restart. Now copy the file WindowsSide ShowForWindowsMobile.cab to your mobile device, establish a Bluetooth connection using the instructions provided with your device and then execute the file to install the Sideshow component.
On the Today, or Home screen of the Windows Mobile device, scroll to the newly added line that reads ‘Not connected’ and click it. In Vista, open the Bluetooth Control Panel, select your mobile device and click Properties beforemoving to the Services tab. Select the Windows Sideshow option, click OK and install the required driver when prompted. Back at the mobile device, select the computer it is connected to and click Finish. Initially, the Windows Sideshow screen that appears on your mobile device will display the message ‘No Gadgets are turned on’. For now, to configure program options, click the Menu button followed by Options. Here you can choose how much space Sideshow should occupy on the home screen and how much storage it should use. Bear in mind, the Sideshow for Windows Mobile software is still in development, so it may not always function exactly as expected.
Gadgets now need to be chosen for display. In Vista, click the Start button followed by the Control Panel link and then double-click the Windows Sideshow icon. Gadgets available automatically can be displayed by ticking the boxes next to them. Some Gadgets require frequent updating, so click the ‘Set my computer to wake automatically’ link and configure a schedule. To get more Gadgets, click the ‘Get more Gadgets online’ link and browse the gallery. Click the Download button next to those you would like to use and select the option to open the file withWindows’ Sidebar. The Gadget can then be enabled through the Control Panel.