Microsoft pitches displays for laptop lids

The next version of Windows will support displays on the lids of notebooks to display information such as time, battery status, e-mail and appointments.

Microsoft wants PC makers to mount cell phone-like displays on the lids of laptop computers so users can check the time, battery status, appointments or see if new e-mail has arrived without having to open and start up their PC.

The software maker is including support for such displays in the next version of Windows, code-named Longhorn, due out in 2006. Microsoft is developing software and reference designs for the displays, which it says will give users instant access to select data and save time and battery life because there is no need to open and boot up the PC.

The display on the lid of a laptop would be similar to a color cell phone display and powered by the notebook battery. Data pulled out of applications would be stored in a special memory cache so it is also accessible when the PC is turned off or in standby mode, said Sriram Viji, a program manager working on the "auxiliary displays" at Microsoft.

In a presentation at the VSLive and Windows Anywhere developer event in San Francisco on Wednesday, Viji showed a picture of an auxiliary display showing a menu of options that included calendar, contacts, tasks, inbox and media player. The picture also showed a set of buttons to allow users to navigate the menu.

In addition to displaying cached data, applications for the auxiliary display could be programmed to periodically wake up the PC, connect to the Internet, synchronize data and update that on the display, Viji said.

Besides the actual display, RAM and flash memory, the needed hardware for the auxiliary display would include a lightweight ARM processor and USB (Universal Serial Bus) and system bus connections, Viji said. The display will run on the Smart Personal Objects Technology (SPOT) software, which is also used Microsoft's smart watches, he said.

Microsoft has not calculated the cost of the extra display or what the price premium on a notebook would be, a Microsoft representative said.

Users will be able to customize the data displayed and virtually any application can take advantage of the screen, Viji said. Microsoft is calling out to developers to come up with applications. The software maker plans to provide developer guidance around the same time the first beta of Longhorn ships, some time in the first half of this year, he said.

Microsoft will support the auxiliary displays in all versions of Longhorn, including the server version. However, the company has put its weight behind the notebook application, Viji said. "We'd love to see that happen and we're definitely pushing to see that happen," he said.

For desktop PCs, the auxiliary display could be a TV or a digital picture frame, Viji said. For the Media Center version of Windows, the technology could be used for a display presenting TV channel, volume or other information, he said.

While Wednesday's presentation provided more information on Microsoft's plans in this area, the idea is not new. Intel's Newport technology, announced almost exactly 2 years ago, is based on the same basic idea -- a small sub-display on which information such as the number of queued messages, battery life, signal strength and availability of a wireless LAN are displayed. At its Intel Developer Forum last year the company said it had licensed the technology to China's Lenovo Group and Taiwanese software company Insyde Software.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Joris Evers

IDG News Service
Show Comments



Sansai 6-Outlet Power Board + 4-Port USB Charging Station

Learn more >



Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?