Kam Vedbrat - How are user expectations changing now that computers are being used longer every day?

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Kam Vedbrat, the guy who runs the team designing the graphics and animations for the next version of Windows, has a unique view of how people are changing their approach to their computers now that people are using computers longer (many of us in the industry, for instance, use computers from early in the morning until late at night).

We wondered if Kam is thinking about how the computer will let you change roles during the day from a work role, to an entertainment role, to a hobby role. He's thinking about it (we asked him if having a rotating sidebar that you could turn around and have your desktop change would be a good idea).

How would you like your computer to change during the day?



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The Discussion

  • User profile image

    Yeah, good video. I'd really like to see Longhorn have a Gaming mode(which reflected that I could switch into it when I knew I wanted to play games). I'd like the sidebar to have buttons that let me use Avalon's presentation layer to adjust to my mode of use. (Buttons very similar to the show me the desktop button on the quick launch).

    Another really good presenation mode would be an e-mail mode that I could use when I was only needing to think about Outlook related tasks.

    And lastely, an office mode that made office apps the only apps presented to me so that I could more easily switch between excel, powerpoint, and word.

    I like these Kam interviews because the Longhorn experience is something I really really care about. I use my computer so much that I want longhorn to make me love using my computer for long periods of time.

  • User profile image
    Jeremy W
    One of hte great things about the sidebar, in my opinion, is that screen sizes, in terms of real estate, are only going to increase during Longhorn's lifecycle. So, while the sidebar may be a bit large now, how large will it be when a whole lot more people move to 1600 x 1200?

    I'm at that resolution, and my taskbar is practically unnoticeable. But, at 640 x 480 it's freaking huge. I imagine the sidebar will be the same kind of change, once people scale up to that kind of resolution (over the next 5-10 years).
  • User profile image
    Side bar is a great idea in longhorn
  • User profile image
    Personally, I find the sidebar lame. I mean 4-6 Billion dollars of R&D and all we come up with is yereka a new tool on the side of the screen! I met the guy who came up with and designed the side bar(he's the same guy who designed the original Start button). I understand that screen sizes will increase to 1200 by 1600, but I'm running that now and I still don't like the side bar. Yes it gives me a snapshot of my data, but often I don't like how it continually animates changing data.

    Channel 9, show me a video about that 4-6 billion dollars of R&D. I mean lets take 2 years of R&D, essentially 10 Billion dollars, and all we can creatively come up with is a sidebar?

    I mean did anyone every see the neptune UI that was supposed to be Windows 97? Activity centers and a radical departure from the Statbar? I mean it had no startbar, what happened to it? The concept died in comittee. I sure loved it. Anyone else seen it?
  • User profile image
    Actually, we're getting a tour of Microsoft Research at the end of the month, so I'll ask them about this stuff then.
  • User profile image
    Jeremy W
    scobleizer wrote:
    Actually, we're getting a tour of Microsoft Research at the end of the month, so I'll ask them about this stuff then.

    Yeah, some of the stuff out of MS Research is amazing. I didn't realise the Sidebar was out of R&D (is it?).
  • User profile image
    Can you paint the walls in Microsoft? Can you paint a coridoor as a group concensus? Ceilings?

  • User profile image
    From what I know. The office 97 toolbar was right out of MSR(Ms Research). It took up either the right hand side of the desktop or the upper part of the screen. Microsoft had a couple of concepts about having an office based ui that would maximize the usefullness of office. Only problem was that the technology would have been proprietary and due to anti-trust concerns and concerns over excessive Windows customization the idea died. It's now resurfaced under Longhorn as the sidebar. For me it's a tired, old, vanilla idea that keeps getting kicked around while a radical concept such as the Neptune interface isn't looked at.

    I know Neptune was turned into MSN, but in all reality the concept was based on not having a startbar but moving beyond it and into panes of activity.

    Much like flipping over sheets of paper in a notbook as you move to different activities or diaginal video cutaways.

    [Systems Configuration--similar to the control panel but it's a fully feature full screen UI ||| Music--exact copy of media center UI that was accessed when you wanted to listen to music(again full screen) ||| Email--similar to fully maximized outlook today but it revolved around only presenting you with email tasks(not calidaring or rss feeds or etc).

    Neptune made Windows activity panes not have the characteristically Windows feel or look, so corporate balked at the idea.

    One can only hope it's being considered for the new sweet interface choice in Longhorn.
  • User profile image
    Feature Request:  Auto-hide.

    I know I have a 21" monitor...  But it's MY monitor.  No hogging the real-estate please!

    Anbody checked this out yet?

    3D desktop environment: http://www.hamar.sk/sphere/

    I wouldn't mind trading in my monitor for a decently priced (read $200-$400) VR Headset.  Imagine the sphere desktop  at that tracked with the pitch and yaw of my head.

    Have my computer now be a semi-imersive environment.
  • User profile image
    Andrew Davey
    The whole sidebar idea really is a bit old. Surely anyone can make a right-docked app bar using the SHAppBarMessage() api call?
    I really hope MS have something revolutionary up their sleeve in the shell department. One thing I would find useful would be the ability to have different switchable mini-shells that can be customised to the various project I'm working on. So then on each project desktop, I could have all the documents, tasks, common apps, etc related to that project.
  • User profile image
    Defining different configurations (modes) (e.g., one for gaming, one for normal use, one for video-intensive editing work) would be very nice especially if it did not ential a reboot.
  • User profile image
    JoshuaHayworth wrote:
    Feature Request:  Auto-hide.

    Sidebar has auto-hide in current preview builds. No guarantee it'll be there by RTM.
  • User profile image
    Andrew Davey
    Auto-hide defeats the whole idea of an area where important stuff is always visible.
  • User profile image
    I've been in several offices that have been painted by their occupants. The corridors are kept up by Microsoft. So, I doubt that'd be looked on positively. Who knows, though?

    The OneNote team, for instance, stapled thousands of notes to the walls of their corridor.
  • User profile image

    I wouldn’t really call it a bard, but I’d like to see a button, based on previous reply, that switches your desktop to different mode.  While the switch is going on it would also tune itself to that mode.  For instance, game mode would switch off all services that you don’t need and maybe degrade priority on non essential services.  Developer mode would start the services you might need such a debugger, web server, etc.  I guess you probably get the drift by now.  This would make changing hats between, business, fun, entertainment, programming, whatever almost as quick as you might need it.



    I’m a website admin on call 24x7.  When I’m at home playing Unreal Tournament 2004 at midnight and my pager goes off, one mouse click later I would be bring up all of my admin and diagnostic tools.

  • User profile image
    id like the desktop to become my work environment..

    so if i open coreldraw - and click - "Page Master" or something.. the page becomes the desktop - with tool floaters or palettes.  While working should i need to import text from Word - Word would know Corel is currently registered as the active master page, and its document / toolbars - would move to a secondary - interactive mode - to the side

    * it's sort of a step beyond what apple tried to do with the universal ONE toolbar for all apps..

    this new way is an ever changing array of toolbars - but with only one main document center screen - then mini - apps that zoom in and out for cutting and pasting etc
  • User profile image

    Thanks for the great comments!

    Sidebar -
    I'm a huge believer in giving folks a home for their apps they use to "just watch stuff". There are tons of scenarios for this sort of thing, and the 16x16 pixels you get in a Windows XP system tray icon are just plain not enough.

    Worse yet - we've never really created a "place" in windows for this sort of thing, and the result is that you have a mix of solutions with varying levels of quality and feature-set. Some apps can be made "always on top", others can dock to your taskbar, some are just floating windows that you can't easily get out of your way when you need to.

    The sidebar is about providing a platform for creating these applications, to enable some consistency in feature set around the window model they use, while leaving plenty of room for the application itself to provide the functionality it was written for. This allows developers to spend more time making a great app (stock tiker, buddy list, battery monitor, blog watcher, whatever) and less time worrying about how to implement stuff like "turn on my deskband when I get a minimize message" and "should I pop up the menu when users right click or left click on the tray icon?".

    To address some common fears - 

    It will be very flexible - we're still iterating on the exact model for auto-hide, always-on-top, and resizing the desktop for the thing. We know lots of people use their PC's very differently (some want stuff always in their face, others want things available at a glance but not in their way), and lots of PC's have very different size/resolution displays (google separately for IBM T221 and OQO ) and this thing has to work w/ all of them to be successful. Lots of options will be there, and we understand that the devil is in the defults.

    Iterating on ideas -
    Someone mentioned in the thread that Neptune eventually became MSN. While lots of folks from the Neptune UX team went on to work on MSN, they were very different products w/ entirely different code-bases. A lot of the UX ideas from Neptune did show up in MSN, but the thinking around what makes up a great OS stayed in Windows, and much of it shipped in Windows XP (Automatic Updates and Online Crash Analysis are some great examples).

    Switching from games to diagnostic tools -
    timw had a comment on needing to quckly switch to his admin and diagnostic tools. Tim - have you looked at using Fast User Switching as a solution for this? You can set up one user which always has the diagnostic tools running, and then another user where you play UT. Then you can easily switch from one to the other using WinKey-L. It's not exactly what you're asking for but probalby a useful workaround that you can use on XP today.

    Painting the walls -
    I'm actually scared to admit that I actually don't know what the rules are. My manager didn't say anything other than "nice color", so I don't think it was a big deal.

    Here's the story - I moved into a window office about a year or so back, and the walls were kinda dirty. I thought about asking facilities to come and take care of it, but rather than spend shareholder $$ on getting the office professionally painted plain old white, I decided to make a run to home-depot and get a nice blue color that I'd enjoy better. I didn't mind buying the paint since I could choose the color.

    Full Screen Apps -
    Jamie - hang in there. We're definitely doing some thinking about how to things easier for folks who use more immersive apps like photoshop, corel, etc. That's about all I can say at this point.

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