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Microsoft Corp. said at an event in San Francisco, California that its forthcoming operating systems currently code-named Longhorn would support auxiliary displays on various types of applications, particularly on notebooks. While the concept is hardly a new, support from software giant may catalyze notebook makers to install second display on certain of their notebooks.

The additional display can show various information, including calendar, contacts, tasks, inbox, and media player. PCWorld.com cites Microsoft representatives as saying that 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.

Redmond, Washington-based software giant said it was gearing up to work with software developers in order to promote second sub-display capability. Microsoft says auxiliary screen is not a prerogative of mobile computer and may be incorporated into servers and desktops to show various information.

Microsoft Corp. said it did not estimate the cost of additional display, but said that besides the actual colour LCD screen like those used on cell phones and PDAs the design requires certain amount of RAM and flash memory, an ARM processor and USB connection.

Additional display is also a part of Intel’s new design conception named Florence, currently promoted by the company and even licensed to Chinese Lenovo Group. While the concept of a laptop with two screens seems to be fresh and exciting, the idea to enable certain functionality when the notebook is closed has been around for some time. Certain notebooks by ASUSTeK Computer can play MP3 audio files when the computer’s lid is closed. This kind of additional capabilities allow notebooks to address markets where PDAs and Tablet PCs have been from the beginning, but viability of such approach is not clear at all, given that notebooks are gaining battery life and reducing sizes quickly.

Lenovo planned to market the world’s first notebook with two displays in Q4 2004, but thus far the company, who is now in charge for IBM ThinkPad laptops as well, has not announced its innovative laptop.

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