Microsoft patent shows new way to organize windows

Posted by Mark Raby

Seattle (WA) - Microsoft has filed a patent application that takes a new look at how to manage and organize active applications on a computer.

The patent talks about "A way to manage windows for a plurality of tasks in a display is to represent windows with images smaller than the windows and place the smaller images off to a side of the display."

Specifically, the patent specifies that, on a computer monitor, there is a "focal" region and a "peripheral" region.  Microsoft's idea is to have application windows look different depending on where they are on the monitor.

For example, if an Internet Explorer window is opened and in the middle of the screen (the focal region), it will look just like an IE window does today.  However, if the user drags the window to the side of the monitor (the peripheral region), it will shrink to a "clipping," described as "an image and an icon."  The patent continues to say, "The image in a clipping is a region of the window with which the clipping is associated."

Simply put, if a user has a bunch of minimized windows in the middle of the screen, it can become overwhelming.  Moving the windows to the peripheral region of the screen causes them to become minimized, with a small image to represent what is in the window.  These peripheral windows are stacked on top of each other, similar to how the current Windows task bar organizes minimized applications.  The difference is the image, which could be a selective region of the program to show what is actually inside the application window.

Windows Vista did not really change the way the task bar and organization of multiple windows was handled.  The only addition was "Windows Aero", which shows all open Windows in a cascading view.  With most users having one full-screen window open at a time, it's unclear where this patent would fit in.