Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Slow Death of Overlapping Windows

Chris Clark:

…it’s the next step in a progression that began with iTunes and has slowly spread to the Finder, iLife, and Xcode: the single window UI as standard. In Lion it’s not just a single window, it can be a full-screen window so that the windows of other apps can’t confuse you. The window itself ceases to exist, the desktop ceases to exist, and the UI becomes mono-tasked.

It’s weird because with today’s larger screens multiple windows work better than ever.

Update (2010-10-24): Lukas Mathis:

While I agree that the window management system we currently have is broken, simply doing away with it altogether is not solving the problem. It’s capitulating.

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For content producers I think big screens and multiple windows are the way they like and need to work (although the newest Xcode aims to be single window, right?). For Geek Dad making vacation movies--yesterday's media event was aimed at holiday consumers, afterall--single window-work is adequate.

Expanding on this, elsewhere in this in the same post, Chris writes:

And though I’m desperately trying not to champion a Morlocks and Eloi scenario when I say this: usability, discoverability, and efficiency are a balancing act that is audience-dependent. I think we should be focusing more of our “make it simpler to use, make it easier to learn” energy on iOS and our “make it more flexible, make it more powerful” energy on Mac OS. Because iOS is the future of casual computing.

And while I fully agree with this, I think it misses the hidden news in yesterday's show, (which everyone else is also missing):

After Lion, somewhere around 2013, Apple is going to be a one OS company. And that OS will be iOS.


Imagine Steve-o showing a slide during a 2013 keynote where he says, "Over 75% of our Mac customers now get all of their software through the App Store." He goes on to talks about how much better their experience is, and how much easier they make future OS development.

At that point, when Steve-o says that the new Mac iOS will only run software acquired through the App Store, would you be surprised in the least?

Chris writes:

I’m a computer professional, I spend in excess of a hundred hours a week in front of a computer screen, and I make this thing bend to my will in ways that my non-tech friends and parents find both fascinating and frightening.

And Chris thus isn't in the target demographic of the post-2013 Apple.

It's going to be in their business interests to let go of the hard-core.


(Postscript: I hope none of this plays out as above. It's certainly not in my best interests. And I don't feel a high degree of certainty that things actually will play out that way. But I do think it the most likely scenario going forward...)

@Chucky That’s a good way of putting it. I think it would be a terrible idea, but extrapolating from the incremental steps so far, and what Apple has said, it would not surprise me.

@Chris Ubuntu would love to have you.

So, when Apple said "Back to the Mac", they mean "Back to the first Mac before introduction of the Multi-Finder"…

Ironically IMHO it was the OS called “Windows” that gave rise to plague of “classical” full-screen windows (the ones most Windows users use). Personally I’ve very much grown to detest them since I’ve begun to use Macs several years ago. Full-screen modes like iPhoto’s full-screen editing are a whole different story, though — I like them a lot. Also I hope Safari will finally get a full-screen mode now! :)

[...] The Slow Death of Overlapping Windows – “Its weird because with todays larger screens multiple windows work better than ever.” completely agree. [...]

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