In-place preview

Would love to see Vista/W7 do this:


Not going to be for everyone, but if you have lots of “activity” windows – Visual Studio doing a long compile, email, instant messengers, command prompts running long batch files … Instead of dropping them into the one-dimensional task bar, why not go 2D and allow the user to keep them as previews (not just icons) on the desktop? Shift-click on the minimize button and plop a sticky preview “icon” that can be moved around on the desktop until you’re ready to restore state…


Good idea, I would love to have that option.

It would make goofing off much more efficient.

I suspect the problem is that means you have to render the window for every active program, whether it’s up or not. The OS is set up to reclaim that screen memory from stuff running in the background.

Interestingly under Ubuntu your alt-tab kind of works like this. If the app is minimized it just gives you the icon but if it’s on the screen it does give you a mini-preview. I suspect that what you’re describing will show up there before Windows.

But you’re right, with modern memory/screen capacity there’s no reason not to. It’s just that it solves a problem that really only applies to programmers, and MS doesn’t consider programmers their main customers.

The Apple dock does that, doesn’t it? Or does it just show the window state at the time the window was minimised? I don’t ever have the dock big enough to know if it does live updates of the window.

Yeah, both MacOS and Vista/W7 are already doing the preview thing (infact, W7 features several new cool employments of it), and it doesn’t have to be “live”. So it’s not going to add a performance drain, it’ll just be an additional employment of it :)

I also disagree about mostly pandering to programmers: There are a lot of “Working With Windows” people – from IT staff to web designers.

But more than that, as I said, it’s going to be step into 2d organization. IMHO the changes to the task bar are a significant step towards the Apple “always running” approach: it’s becoming increasingly common for people to leave programs running – we already dispatched one plethora to the task try we’ve dispatched another plethora to tabs in the web browser. Now MS are trying to dispatch more to the grouping icons on the taskbar… Each time it’s 1D (or less) :)

I downloaded W7 last weekend and tested it in game. I was fairly impressed, I would love to hear your feeling.

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