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Windows 7 Designs That Didn't Make It

Windows 7 Designs That Didn't Make It
By , Simon Bisson
Peering at the Taskbar Thumbnails

At Microsoft’s Mix conference, the company showed off some of its early work on Windows 7, giving attendees a rare look into the birth of an operating system’s user interface. Try to imagine life with some of these aborted attempts at a new operating system: Would you have stood for these features?

One early concept for Windows 7 (dating back to early 2006, even before the official design process started in 2007) put thumbnails of running applications straight into the taskbar. This wasn’t an image, or an animated demonstration – it was real code, running in Windows Vista. Microsoft produced a lot of samples like this, trying out ideas and using real world prototypes with real users. Taskbar thumbnails didn’t make the cut – while they show some information about hidden windows, they don’t show enough, and they take up far too much screen real estate. Failed experiments help just as much as those which succeed, according to Microsoft. The results of this experiment of led to “Bat Signal” and eventually Aero Peek.

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  • 2 Hide
    08nwsula , March 25, 2009 1:17 AM
    I want the batman like feature.
  • 0 Hide
    OrderChaos , March 25, 2009 2:37 AM
    I want the device on the taskbar and (not mentioned here) I want a mac-like feature to have several "pages" of desktops...those with macs know what I mean, for those who don't:

    You have a set or variable (macs have set 4) different pages that each hold different windows that are currently open.

    Using these windows you can automatically make the ones on the inactive desktops background tasks and have much more screen real estate with the same size screen.

    This is really the only feature that I absolutely love about macs...other than this feature I consider them to be overpriced and rigid (i.e. not plug and play with new hardware such as video cards or mobos, et cetera.)

    I understand That Apple has this patented, but it wouldn't be the first time one company has taken the idea (or product) of another and adapted it (or flat out stolen it) to fit theirs...Especially not for Microsoft.
  • 0 Hide
    kato128 , March 25, 2009 3:35 AM
    orderchaosI want the device on the taskbar and (not mentioned here) I want a mac-like feature to have several "pages" of desktops...those with macs know what I mean, for those who don't:You have a set or variable (macs have set 4) different pages that each hold different windows that are currently open.Using these windows you can automatically make the ones on the inactive desktops background tasks and have much more screen real estate with the same size screen.This is really the only feature that I absolutely love about macs...other than this feature I consider them to be overpriced and rigid (i.e. not plug and play with new hardware such as video cards or mobos, et cetera.)I understand That Apple has this patented, but it wouldn't be the first time one company has taken the idea (or product) of another and adapted it (or flat out stolen it) to fit theirs...Especially not for Microsoft.


    Actually this was originally a Unix idea and has been brought over into Linux and OSX.

    One thing I'd like to see is a task bar for each display. Its annoying having to mouse back to the taskbar on a different display to switch windows. Ultramon has given us this functionality on earlier windows versions for years but I don't see why it couldn't be done out of the box.
  • 0 Hide
    chrone , March 25, 2009 4:23 AM
    what you mean is work space such as on linux? the same with mac using the default 4 work space. lol yeah it would be nice to have it on windows.
  • 0 Hide
    mpasternak , March 25, 2009 7:20 AM
    Kato: thats an idea i never thought of that i love now that you've mentioned it!

    each display hvaing it's own taskbar so to speak. I use multiple displays. Used to have 4 till i blew up my 2nd vid card. And yes, it is annoying running things on different screens, and having to mouse back always to first screen just to use the taskbar, which, surprisingly i find myself using more and more frequently as i forget all those old fancy keystroke combinations i learned on 3.1
  • 1 Hide
    fudgeboy , March 25, 2009 9:22 AM
    they should've used the batman feature for alt+tab...
  • 0 Hide
    zodiacfml , March 25, 2009 9:37 AM
    haven't downloaded and used win7 but from what i see from the pictures is a taskbar filled with icons only, no text.
    that is useful to reduce clutter on the taskbar since this is what i do on google chrome bookmarks bar, deleting the titles leaving only the icon of websites on the bar.
    other than that feature, i have nothing to wish more on the user interface for win7.
  • 0 Hide
    velocityg4 , March 25, 2009 12:25 PM
    What the should do is bring back the Batman feature. However, make it something where you have to hold a key like ctrl while mousing over the taskbar for this feature to work. I could see how the original implementation could be very annoying.

    One really great window management feature from OS X that would be good for Windows is Expose. If you press F9 all open windows are sorted and shrunk to previews so you can click the window you want. That window will then become active at its normal size and the others will return to their normal size. Similarly F10 does this only for windows of the active program, F11 shifts the windows out of the way so you can click on your desktop. You can change these to different keys or add them to your multi-button mouse.
  • 1 Hide
    bustapr , March 25, 2009 2:36 PM
    I'm glad they ddumped that stuff. All of it sucked except for the batman feature which would have been nice to see.
  • 0 Hide
    hellwig , March 25, 2009 6:46 PM
    Microsoft released a 4-desktop addon for XP under their "Power Toys" line (free, downloadable from their website). It was called the Virtual Desktop Manager, and even had a keyboard shorcut so you could see an image of all 4 desktops on the screen at once, in case you couldn't remember which desktop had which windows open. I don't know if they released Power Toys for Vista or not, so it will probably die with XP.

    I also know Nvidia (and possibly ATI) support multiple desktops via the display drivers. You have to enable NView or something like that, but it is there (used it for a while myself).
  • 0 Hide
    hurbt , March 25, 2009 8:26 PM
    I hate picture page article formats.... ARRRGGHHH.... why, THG, why!!!???

    That said, I agree with the above... Batman thing is cool, the rest... meh...
  • 0 Hide
    Balshoy , March 25, 2009 10:21 PM
    fudgeboythey should've used the batman feature for alt+tab...


    Ah yes... that would be really cool!
  • 0 Hide
    ag3nt smith , March 26, 2009 2:02 AM
    Two good features, others nixed.

    First... Batman!
    The batman light feature is pretty cool, but perhaps as suggested above, hold ctrl while mousing over it; I would suggest pausing over it for a pre-determined length of time, adjustable by the user to always on - some # of ms/sec - or off; also as you pause over it having the window peek itself onto the screen with a an outline (as if it was floating) would be nice to see in my opinion.

    Next...
    Taskbar on all connected screens? BRILLIANT! Wish they'd code it in! Set the primary monitor's taskbar to normal and have the ability to add/remove/adjust the taskbar on other windows. This can be done in Delphi or VB2008 code easily!

    As far as the F9 all windows come up and F11 all windows disappear, it sounds neat for photo-editing/viewing applications; for everyday applications like surfing the internet, not so much.

    Future integration into 3D monitors on the next OS would be wicked, use spatial grid projected in front of the screen or over an area in which the user can fully manipulate would be awesome to see instead of a fixed 2-d monitor made to look 3d, users could take their apps into a full 3d environment.

    What I would LOVE to see, but I doubt it will happen; Microsoft buying Mozilla - and FIREFOX! (This post written from Firefox!)
  • 0 Hide
    mitu8281 , March 26, 2009 6:53 AM
    If Microsoft can please work on the core of the system more on the appearance. I hope this version is less stressing on the ram.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , March 26, 2009 6:58 PM
    I must break the record as I can hav eup to 20 open adn if it is a Firefox window intercahnge in one window up to 8
  • 0 Hide
    xc@1i8ur , March 27, 2009 10:51 PM
    I wished that Microsoft would create a screensaver like the one in Swordfish with the rings so that way we wouldn't have to keep pondering on how to get it. ;) 
  • 0 Hide
    xc@1i8ur , March 27, 2009 10:55 PM
    How about a voice recognition login at the login scree. You just speak your name it correlates it with the speech patterns for when you had originally had it setup. And presto you're in. But then again, it would be too easy for a security breach.
  • 0 Hide
    midnightgun , March 28, 2009 6:12 AM
    "I understand That Apple has this patented, but it wouldn't be the first time one company has taken the idea (or product) of another and adapted it (or flat out stolen it) to fit theirs...Especially not for Microsoft."

    I really hope they didn't somehow patent a feature that's been in unix / linux for as long as I remember. But somehow I bet they were able to with the screwed up patent system down there.

    As for seeing some of the process for making windows 7, it was kinda cool.

    The idea of the batman spotlight with alt-tab and task bar being optional for all windows would be cool.
  • 0 Hide
    blackmancer , March 28, 2009 11:58 AM
    I liken Microsoft to an evil dictator, bent on re-inventing the SAME wheel for as much profit as possible. It's just sad to see THE SAME BASIC TASKBAR/DESKTOP that was developed for much earlier versions of Windows, with only the addition of glorified "tools" and simple graphic changes. I think they put more time into the desktop pictures (which ARE a work of art) than coming up with something new.

    It is in Microsoft's interest to make as much profit as possible, like ALL companies. Therefore they aren't going to create anything TOO revolutionary or breakthrough while they operate on money.

    I think if Microsoft made a GREAT operating system and released it for free, they'd get so much more money from donations, GOOD PR/advertising, than public sales. But perhaps this might not happen due to the fact that the system we live in enslaves us as wage slaves, and we "can't" possibly break this cycle.
  • 0 Hide
    Baladen , March 28, 2009 3:05 PM
    orderchaosI want the device on the taskbar and (not mentioned here) I want a mac-like feature to have several "pages" of desktops...those with macs know what I mean, for those who don't:You have a set or variable (macs have set 4) different pages that each hold different windows that are currently open.Using these windows you can automatically make the ones on the inactive desktops background tasks and have much more screen real estate with the same size screen.This is really the only feature that I absolutely love about macs...other than this feature I consider them to be overpriced and rigid (i.e. not plug and play with new hardware such as video cards or mobos, et cetera.)I understand That Apple has this patented, but it wouldn't be the first time one company has taken the idea (or product) of another and adapted it (or flat out stolen it) to fit theirs...Especially not for Microsoft.

    If you want multiple desktops in Windows, go here:
    http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/cc817881.aspx
    Note: This is the new version. Previously, WinXP had a powertoy that had similar functionality.
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