Patent reveals Aero Glass reflections was also to change according to time of day

Aero Glass reflectionsDon’t read this if you are easily disappointed or are already disappointed with Windows Vista compared to Longhorn, since it just adds more fuel to the flame. A patent application published yesterday (May 31) reveals a little more about the other ideas Microsoft had for Aero Glass. The key characteristics of Aero Glass, colorization and reflection, are explained in two separate patents, “Glass appearance window frame colorization” and “Dynamic reflective highlighting of a glass appearance window frame“. The latter brings up an interesting idea, it writes,

As described above, a reflective highlight of a glass appearance of an application window frame may be configured to change during a move and/or resize operation based on a set of rules that describe a reflective highlight image’s placement relative to the current position of the application window within a desktop space. Concurrently or alternatively, a reflective highlight may be configured to change in response to a time of day event.

If you’re not familiar with the techno-babble-patent-language, what it means is that the reflection in Aero Glass (the white stripes) was designed to change based on the position of the application window on the desktop, on the time of day, or both. Since the reflection already moves with the position of windows in Vista, then it is obvious the time of day configuration was cut from the final release.

To illustrate what that might have looked like, the follow diagram gives us some ideas.

Aero Glass reflections based-on-time patent

As shown in FIG. 7, a 24-hour time scale 707 is shown and a window 705 is shown in dashed lines. Window 705 is associated with the desktop space 201 and represents the reflective highlight image bitmap 701 portion that changes over time. Window 705 is shown to be the portion of the reflective highlight image bitmap 701 utilized by an operating system in rendering a glass appearance window frame of an application window between the hours of 2 AM and 8 AM. Again, it should be understood by those skilled in the art that the configuration of the reflective highlight image bitmap 701 may be different and/or the configuration of the time scale 707 and/or portions shown of the image bitmap 701 may be different. The present invention is not so limited to the examples provided herein. For example, although shown in a horizontal and linear manner, the window 705 may be configured to move around a circular type image bitmap, a non-linear image bitmap, and/or some other configuration.

Because the patent office doesn’t believe in high-quality imaging technology (irony) such as a color scanner, we can only imagine what the final result might have looked like.

Not that it would have been very useful, too subtle and inaccurate to tell the time of day by looking at the intensity of reflections. However it would have been that extra attention-to detail-and subtle-surprise much of the enthusiast community has come to expect from Microsoft Design. The feature might have been cut down to technical or feasibility problems, but it shows at least the idea was there.

In related news, these patents were filed by none other than our fanclub-idol, Tjeerd Hoek (now Frogger) amongst former MSXs Don Lindsay (now design director for Live Labs, formerly Apple Design Director responsible for Aqua, go figure) and Greg Melander (now art director for Windows Mobile).

16 insightful thoughts

  1. What a coincidence! I just installed Vista yesterday. I am totally in love with Aero. They hit the nail on the head with this one! Now if only they could make UAC fun too…

  2. Couldn’t this filing mean that there Aero features will be added to Vista in the future, contrary to the article’s conclusion that this should have been included but was later dropped?

  3. Virtual reflections on a gui doesn’t make any sense if they are not for improving contrast or highlight important things. Isn’t it funny that everyone tries to eliminate reflections on a display and Microsoft has a patent for virtual ones?

  4. Jorge: No, there are thousands of ideas for Longhorn that were never developed, and almost all of them never will be. This is in the “not great” category.

    xaml: No. Microsoft hates making visible changes to its products. It’s always upgrade, upgrade, upgrade.

  5. But still, Tomer, why file a patent of something they supposedly “dropped”?
    I would say because they didn’t – drop it. This will probably see the light of day soon. Just like Surface, Popfly, Silverlight and Deepfish.

  6. “Microsoft hates making visible changes to its products”

    It is visible, it just doesn’t move to the time of day…

  7. *I think they could have taken this one step further by having an option for it to get brighter then darker as it moves from 5am to 8pm*

  8. Mix that with the right DreamScene, and who needs a clock? :) The reflections and shadows and everything could even be made to match the exact position of the sun in a DreamScene…

  9. I never knew Longhorn looked so awesome! I’ll console myself by thinking that I still hate the maximize windows animation… :(

    And… If there’s a video then it was already made?! Or is it just some fancy CGI?

  10. I am not sure why this article (and its commentators) believe that the feature was intended for the operating system prior to its “development reset.” According to Google, the patents was filed on November 30, 2005, which was after the operating system was known as Windows Vista.

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