And Vista will enable new kinds of hardware too. For example, a Vista feature called Sideshow will make it possible for new laptops to ship with an extra screen on the lid, so users can check their calendar, contacts, and e-mail - and even play music - when the rest of the laptop is powered down. Since Sideshow requires its own flash memory, laptop makers could turn these screens into iPod-like removable media players as well.
Makers of tricked-out machines, such as VoodooPC with its large-screen laptops, terabyte drives, and multiple graphics processors, are already salivating. "Microsoft has put a lot of emphasis on making Vista the next big thing in entertainment," says Rahul Sood, Voodoo's co-founder and CEO. "To me this is a bigger launch than Windows 95 was."