Don’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.
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).