Friday, October 31, 2003

Longhorn - and the UI of the future will be

"Among the features shown off were transparent windows, animated windows that pop open and a new taskbar on the righthand side of the screen that displayed a clock, buddy list, and news and other information streamed onto the desktop via an RSS feed. "

ooohhh...ummm - don't I already have that? (hopefully it's an intelligent RSS feed that combines from multiple sources) Quite frankly I don't WANT my news streaming onto my desktop - I have too much news right now when simply clicking on newsfeeds in Outlook (thanks to Gator)

Granted I was not present but if this is the best the news media had to offer about it...I'm worried.

There is something to be said about "cluttered" windows (which is why Apple trotted out their new Panther software with a better Alt+Tab view). People today suffer from information overload.

The System Tray was supposed to only hold a few icons but now every company loads onto it so much it looks like an old TSR list in DOS.

The problem with running streams exclusively from an RSS feed is you still need to filter out the junk and it needs to be intuitive. For example, my feed may be on Blogs but you know there are so many stories or posts every day on various Blogs news sites that what I really need is for "something" to say "This is important because it was really a worthy news story instead of just a regular post."

I thought of this when I re-watched the Knowledge Navigator video. Apart from a "talking head", we have a lot of this today. Yes, it could certainly be better and it needs to be. Maybe it's more like an intelligent MSNBC newsfeed, that tells me the news when it happens ("Roy Horn attacked by tiger") but no more on a single story unless I actually ask about it. ("did something happen about Roy Horn lately?" or "find Roy Horn")

These features are already available in the best news aggregators and it also needs to start being available in regular email.

My biggest fear in reading about the graphical look of Longhorn is that it really is simply taking all of the great stuff that is ALREADY available and putting it into the O/S. Sorry - but that won't fly in an age when free and public source add-ons do the same.

(consider FoxPro - GENSCRNX was public domain and became a virtual "built-in" add-on for every developer).

What the industry needs is some serious innovation and not just in "better file-systems" or "transparent windows", something that actually increases productivity.

Right now, there are too many distractions on the desktop that prevent users from doing things. I want to work on a project, I have to shut down my email, and my IM, etc just so I can get work done. Why can't the OS do that for me?

It wouldn't be that hard - an O/S that intelligently hides things that aren't being used (so they don't even show up in the Alt+tab or task bar) but then re-appears them when the task is complete. Of course, it would also need to be able to interrupt a task if it really was important.

As I write this, I've got 6 windows open but also about 6 other things on my System tray. One of my windows is Outlook because I pulled up this news story because of it. But it is 7am and no one is actively looking for me. What needs to happen is that while I'm actively working, the O/S senses that I am hard at work and thus, automatically puts everything on "hold" until I finish.

Now that isn't something that can be easily shown in a 15 minute demo but it does introduce a REAL PRODUCTIVITY increase for those users who currently are feeling information overload with too many things on the screen (like a newsfeed), and are being distracted from doing what their jobs really need to be.

Gates trots out Longhorn | CNET News.com

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