The ability to run 3D applications in a window and have them displayed in stereoscopic 3D mode while the rest of the image on the screen, such as your Desktop, remains in 2D is something fairly new to 3D Vision. It is a nice feature to have at times, like when playing an online MMO game for example, but you should be aware of how and when you can use the windowed 3D mode as it still has some limitations and requirements. First let us start with how you can activate the windowed 3D mode with your 3D Vision. It is recommended to have at least a release 270 drivers for a notebook GPU installed although Nvidia has introduced this feature earlier with the 266.35 BETA and 266.58 WHQL desktop drivers, but having the latest WHQL driver installed is the best choice to ensure optimum effectiveness. Opening the Nvidia control panel you should navigate to the Stereoscopic 3D settings and you should see the “Select when the display is in 3D mode:” dropdown box where you actually select the active mode – windowed 3D or not. In the dropdown box you have three different options: “Always”, “Only while 3D programs run” and “Only while full-screen 3D programs run”. With the first two options you will have the Windowed 3D mode active, although you will need to have a 3D application running in order to have the IR emitter and the shutter glasses active and with the third option you will not have the Windowed 3D mode available. The difference between the Always On and the Only while 3D programs run modes is that with the first one the monitor is always in its 3D state (locked to maximum brightness) while at the second mode it switches to it only when you run a compatible 3D application in a window.
It is possible that in the control panel you can se that there is no such dropdown box as described above or that the dropdown menu is grayed out (not active), and there is a reason for that as there are some limitations to the Windowed 3D mode as I’ve already mentioned. The most likely reason is that you have SLI setup using two or more GPUs as the Windowed 3D mode does not yet support SLI for 3D games and applications, although you can watch 3DVisionLive.com and YouTube 3D content in a window even with SLI (driver version 285.27 or later is required for this to work). You can of course temporary disable the SLI from the driver control panel and when you finish using the Windowed 3D mode you can activate it back again, at least until Nvidia provides update to fully support SLI setups with Windowed 3D mode.
There are also a few more important things that you should be aware of regarding the current state of the Windowed 3D mode supported by 3D Vision. First of all is that currently you can have Windowed 3D mode available only for games and applications using DirectX 9, the ones using older or newer versions or OpenGL will not function in stereo 3D mode in a window. If you have a 3D Vision-capable 3D DLP HDTV you are also out of luck as these use the DLP Checkerboard pattern for transmitting the 3D content and there is yet no support available for Windowed 3D mode for these users. Owners of 3D Vision-ready 3D monitors, notebooks with 3D Vision-ready displays, compatible 3D Vision DLP projectors as well as 3DTV Play compatible 3D HDTVs and 3D Projectors using HDMI 1.4 are Ok. They are all able to play DirectX 9 games and use DX9 applications, use the 3D Vision Photo Viewer and 3D Vision Video Player (version 1.7.2 or later) and watch 3D content on the 3DVisionLive.com and YouTube 3D in a Windowed 3D mode if they use single GPU. For the moment Blu-ray 3D movie playback in stereo 3D is only available in full-screen mode.