Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

What Ever Happened To Windows SideShow?

Raise your hand if you never heard of “Windows SideShow”. Okay. Thank you. You can put them down now. I had heard of SideShow, long ago, and I have been waiting patiently all this time to take advantage of this wonderful technology — eagerly, excitedly, looking forward. Thanks to the iPad, and Android.. I expect my wait will be even longer….

What is “SideShow”??? SideShow is a cool technology Microsoft first started hyping building into Vista (circa 2007). It was.. to keep things simple here, a kind of “super widget” program. Look at this prototype laptop..

See the small LCD screen in the lid? That is an “SideShow Enabled Device”.. (what I had been waiting for..) and what was going to be so kewel was, was even with the laptop off, and lid closed – that little LCD would draw so little current it could be available all the time; so, “the user can still read e-mail, examine his calendar, look at some digital photos, get mapping directions, see the current date/time, and so on.

Yes.. watch a stock ticker, check flight arrival, see the weather, listen to your tunes..

SideShow was, as I understood it, envisioned and enabled to be “beamed” (so to speak) to any LCD screen — digital picture frames, smart refrigerators, television remote controls, etc.

In fact, if you have a Vista machine, and open your Control Panel, you will see the SideShow control (in “Classic View”).

And in there you configure what info you want to have shown..

Now, I have to say, this works.. um, “functions”, and you can play around with it using various LCD screen devices you might have.. your old Palm Pilot or smartphone, maybe,, but here it is, 2012, and I have yet to have seen a laptop for sale that had a little screen in the lid (maybe I have not looked in the right stores…)

I have to conclude that SideShow was an idea that “died on the vine”. That got “pre-empted”. It simply wasn’t adopted by the manufacturers (that I ever saw..).
But I could be wrong about that.
Maybe it is technology that is just biding its time.. and will be featured in the “smart” refrigerators when they start becoming “consumer mainstream”..

But, 2007 – in computer years – is a long time ago. And.. if I want to do those things, I glance at my Android smartphone……………………..

Honey? What time is it?
I don’t know.. check the fridge.

(For those super Geeky types in the audience, curious about SideShow, this old MSDN article may be of interest: click here.)

Today’s quote:How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg? Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

Copyright 2007-2011 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.

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February 3, 2012 - Posted by | computers, tech | ,


  1. Hey…I raised my hand! “back in school again, ha” You jogged my memory about the Window’s Side Show. I remember seeing an ad for it …”somewhere” I don’t remember the source…then I forgot all about it.

    At the time I thought how nice it would be to have that feature on a laptop/computer. I did not own a laptop then, now owning one…I see what a great feature that would be as an extension to a laptop…especially when traveling.

    Too bad it did not see the “light of day”. Who knows! A Greater, Super Side Show may arrive someday… since the technology is great at surprising us.


    Comment by Gaia | February 3, 2012 | Reply

    • Gaia,
      I think that if, at the time(s) I was buying, if there had been a “SideShow Enabled” model available, for not too much more.. I might have opted for it.

      But the iPhone (and later, the ‘droids) came along, and everyone jumped that way.

      And why not? A smartphone fits in you pocket; let’s you do all those kewel things I mentioned; and also takes picture/movies, has GPS for navigation, lets you reply to those emails – not just view them, play games, enter Calendar appts, at least 17 things I am forgetting at the moment, and … makes/receives calls too.

      In tech, you have to be first-to-market-with-the-best (work the bugz out later)(maybe).. something Microsoft does not have a real good track record of doing…………. ahem.

      (Thus “Metro” on Windows 8. Microsoft wants to enter/compete the smartphone (and tabletPC) market with things called a “Windows Phone”. Been trying to for some time now.. )

      Windows Phone is the yellow line.. (the one that skyrocketed to 1% in late 2010..)


      Comment by techpaul | February 3, 2012 | Reply

      • The last real smart PHONE was the motorola razr from what? 2003-2006? RIP


        Comment by Arthur Crout | May 25, 2012 | Reply

        • Arthur Crout,
          I actually enjoyed reading your first comment effort. Too bad some of the language (and tone) was not fit “for Everyone”..
          Your points were right on.

          With your permission, I’ll edit it .. or you could try again? With a little less “salt”?


          Comment by techpaul | May 25, 2012 | Reply

  2. I’d never heard of SIdeShow, and here I thought I had heard it all. I’m sure you’re right though. Smart phones and pads will render SideShow into nothing but a memory, for those that still have one. Ahem.


    Comment by KsTinMan | February 3, 2012 | Reply

    • KsTinMan,
      Well, I avoided the new-fangled comp-tatin’ machines as long as I could, but basically have been doing this Since Bill G. hired the Rolling Stones to celebrate the launch of his new Windows 95..
      And they raised the first Apple building not too many blocks from my house..
      So, yeah. I’ve seen a a lot of things/ideas come and go.

      (I even remember that there were two “dot com bubbles” go a’burstin’.)

      But don’t feel too bad for me. I know several who were already “old school” when I started, and they tell me stories about life in the times of the command line.. (shudder) and sneaker net, and the joys of the 10Base-T..


      Comment by techpaul | February 3, 2012 | Reply

  3. Oops …No Windows Side Show! … Smart Phones and Pads takes the Prize.Up to now I don’t have either…I think I am fine without…but who knows…when the technology grabs you, you’re in!


    Comment by Gaia | February 3, 2012 | Reply

    • Gaia,
      Please don’t think I am trying to make a prediction, or anything.. but I suspect the smartphone’s days are numbered, and “smart eyewear” will replace it/them..

      Think James Bond’s sunglasses.. only more so.


      Comment by techpaul | February 3, 2012 | Reply

  4. Strangely, I’ve just finished and released a sideshow device implementation for Android powered devices. It has quite complete support for SCF (just missing notifications for now) so most of the sideshow gadgets that are still around will run on it. Fun to play with, Windows 7 (and vista probably) come with Media player and RSS feed reading gadgets by default. If you want to play with sideshow and have an Android Wifi capable device, you can get it here:


    Comment by Chris James | February 7, 2012 | Reply

    • Chris James,
      I do not normally allow self-promoting comments/links here. But you caught me in a charitable mood.

      Folks, I have not tested this app, and do not know a thing about it. But the link does go to the Android Market. And you may want to take a peek at this..


      Comment by techpaul | February 7, 2012 | Reply

  5. The G15 and G19 Logitech gaming keyboards used SideShow. I think they are still available. No idea if the current implementations are using SideShow or something Logitech made.


    Comment by Joel | August 17, 2013 | Reply

    • joel,
      You stimulated a vague recall.. so I went back and found this review from 2009. And remembered why I have never seen anyone with those boards.

      Maybe someone in the audience uses one, and can fill us in.


      Comment by techpaul | August 18, 2013 | Reply

      • I think it was the G15 that I used to have until it got the boot (by which I mean some one stepped on it while I was working on a floor). I had meant to replace it at some point, so I just went ahead and grabbed a G19S. Will open it up later this evening and try it out on Windows 8.0.


        Comment by Joel | August 18, 2013 | Reply

        • joel,
          I’d be very interested to hear your results/assessment. (I have some small experience with {high-end} gaming mice, but never a keyboard.)

          And, sorry for your misfortune but, thank you for the chuckle (your word play) “Got the boot”… Yikes!


          Comment by techpaul | August 18, 2013 | Reply

          • Like you said in the article, this is a technology that died on the vine. In my own searching I found a few companies that started making SideShow accessories then quietly discontinued them because of lackluster sales or lack of a use for them.

            Back to the keyboard: Unlike when I had the G15 I when I set up the G19s I didn’t see the SideShow process running. I did a lot more research and I found that the G19s is SideShow capable; confirmed this through both a support page where it was advising some one to remove the G19 from the control panel as a SideShow device so that it could be re-enumerated as another device type and through and old page on the Logitech site where they announced SideShow support for the keyboards ( ). I did find that SideShow can run on Windows 8, but the SideShow runtime by default is not present on Windows 8.

            When I originally connected the keyboard before installing the drivers I saw something strange happen. I tried to play a video from the keyboard and I got the Windows 8 video player; it was displaying an error message on the keyboard screen that I had seen on the laptop’s screen before related to a specific DRM’d file not having a license. It was as though the computer saw this as some type of secondary display and could render applications on it. I haven’t been able to make that happen since I let the correct drivers install.

            Something else to note, the keyboard is said to work on XP (a pre-SideShow operating system). Between this and these keyboards being in existence before they had SideShow support I think they are not running SideShow (though they could) but are running something that Logitech made themselves and already had in some form before SideShow. I looked through the current version of the Logitech SDK and I couldn’t find any evidence of dependencies on SideShow. I found an archive of the SideShow gadgets ( ) that were available and as a final test I am going to try to run them on the keyboard. I just need to find a computer on which I don’t mind installing SideShow (don’t want to do it on my primary machine).


            Comment by Joel | August 20, 2013 | Reply

            • Joel,
              My curiosity piqued, I just opened Windows Sideshow on a Vista machine, and clicked “get more gadgets online”, just to see what MS is currently saying. That took me to, which says:

              Gadgets have been discontinued

              Gadgets are no longer available on our website because the Windows Sidebar platform in Windows 7 and Windows Vista has serious vulnerabilities. Microsoft has retired the feature in newer releases of Windows. Gadgets could be exploited to harm your computer, access your computer’s files, show you objectionable content, or change their behavior at any time. An attacker could even use a gadget to take complete control of your PC. If you’re concerned about the safety of gadgets you’ve downloaded, find out more about gadgets and steps you can take to protect your PC.

              (The same page is shown when I try via the “Get more gadgets” link in the Sidebar.)(Of course, Windows 8’s “Metro apps” are “safe”, so all I have to do to have a weather, or calendar, gadget is ‘upgrade’.)

              I cannot recommend anyone fiddle with technology with known “serious vulnerabilities” (not counting Windows itself, I guess), and hope that readers still using Gadgets click the links above. I have confidence that should you proceed, you will take steps to sandbox the environment, etc..


              Comment by techpaul | August 20, 2013 | Reply

  6. I have sideshow on a dell xps 420. I loved it and it was almost always running a resource monitor. I also used it to play mp3s and check email while in hibernation mode. Then they killed it in win8.1. Found this while looking for a fix.

    If anyone had released a stand alone device many people would have bought it and it would be alive and well. At the very least for those of us that still have it, Microsoft could let us run some of the metro apps on it. The drivers aren’t even in 8.1. It’s a shame.


    Comment by Garou | April 5, 2015 | Reply

    • Garou,
      If you didn’t already.. (and they are now 2 years-old..) you might find the other reader comments interesting. But bottom line is it was a idea that didn’t sell, raises hardware costs, and has security implications.


      Comment by techpaul | April 5, 2015 | Reply

  7. I just got a used XPS 420 and found the sideshow to be pretty awesome! Looking to find the drivers to maybe enable some other features besides solitare. I installed windows 10 on the system and am trying my best to get it running. Will let the community know if I have any luck.


    Comment by Chad | December 14, 2021 | Reply

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