Microsoft files patent for new open windows viewer
Possible replacement for little-used Flip 3D in Vista, Windows 7
Computerworld - Microsoft last week filed a patent application for a new method of browsing through open windows on the desktop that builds on an older, now-abandoned feature in Windows Vista and Windows 7.
The application, which was published April 11 by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), outlines a way to view the current open windows on the desktop and lets users cycle through those windows until the desired one is in focus.
At first glance, the patent -- dubbed "System and Method for Visually Browsing of Open Windows" -- appears to be a follow-up to and possible replacement for Flip and Flip 3D, the little-used open-windows selectors that first appeared in 2007's Vista.
Flip and Flip 3D showed thumbnails of the desktop's open windows, either in strip form or in a 3D-like rendering. Although Windows 7 also included Flip and Flip 3D, Microsoft dropped them from Windows 8.
The new approach that Microsoft hopes to patent differs from Flip 3D. While the Vista/Windows 7 feature showed equal-sized windows, this maintains the relative sizes of open windows. And although it may stack them in a strict cascade, as did Flip 3D, the application also spelled out free-form ordering that would spread the reduced-size windows across the screen.
Key combinations would be assigned to call up the visual browsing and for cycling through the windows, including the ancient Alt-Tab long-time users have pressed for decades. Alternately, a "hot corner" could be designated, as Microsoft has done for other commands in Windows 8.
Microsoft's proposed visual browsing would be reminiscent of the OS X feature once called "Exposé," which was renamed "Mission Control" in OS X Lion, the 2011 upgrade to Apple's desktop operating system.
Exposé/Mission Control shows all open windows in a two-dimensional layout, but unlike Microsoft's concept, does not overlap them.
In the patent application, Microsoft knocked Exposé/Mission Control. "While Exposé allows the user to view open windows simultaneously, multiple windows are tiled on the screen, which can still lead to some confusion," the document read. "It would be helpful to provide an interface which allows a user to scan quickly through open windows, one at a time."
Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read more about Windows in Computerworld's Windows Topic Center.
- Best iPhone, iPad Business Apps for 2014
- 14 Tech Conventions You Should Attend in 2014
- 10 Desktop Apps to Power Your Windows PC
- How to Add New Job Skills Without Going Back to School
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- Taking Windows Mobile on Any Device Taking Windows applications mobile has many advantages, but the process of identifying a solution is complex. Learn how to solve this complex problem...
Red Hat Enterprise Linux - The Original Cloud Operating System
Linux adoption is growing against a number of measures, such as the
number of supercomputers that run Linux and the size of the contributing...
- OpenStack Hype vs. Reality: CIO Quick Pulse Open-source architecture can enable IT departments to build infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) clouds running on standard hardware.
- Building a Bridge to the Next Generation Data Center Selecting a widely adopted operating system is a foundational component of a standardization strategy.
- Webinar: Building a Big Data solution that's production-ready Big data solutions are no longer just a nice-to-have.
- Meg Whitman presents Unlocking IT with Big Data During this Web Event you will hear Meg Whitman, President and CEO, HP discuss HAVEn - the #1 Big Data platform, as well... All Windows White Papers | Webcasts