From Microsoft patent to Windows reality: “X-ray browsing”, circa 2005; Aero Peek, circa 2008.

Well this was a long “I told you so” in the making. Reader “rm20010” recently commented on a blog post from mine from two years ago, and as curious as I was I decided to check out how in any way it could be relevant. It turns out to be quite interesting indeed.

In December 06 I had found this Microsoft patent from January 2005 by the old Longhorn/Vista designers (Don Lindsay & Hillel Cooperman). Today a variation of what that patent had described (as a way of managing windows) is what we has been realized in the “Aero Peek” feature of Windows 7.

If nothing else, this is a pretty good example of just how long it takes an idea from incubation to reach market and maybe an indication of just how many Longhorn-era innovations (and innovators) were ahead of their time.

29 insightful thoughts

  1. Continuation from above reply. If you’re wondering why it’s being seen again 2 years later, someone at Neowin posted a link.

  2. After looking at this I decided to look at what other things Microsoft has pattented and I saw a design for a new on-screen keyboard and since I’m running windows 7 I figured I would see if they already changed it and it turns out that they did update the on-screen keyboard and it looks almost just like the image in this patent:

    http://www.patentgenius.com/image/D563973-4.html

  3. It’s interesting, because, many of the innovations that reside in Windows, are actually original ideas, however, because as you say, it takes such a long time for it to come to market, Apple tends to “borrow” these ideas enhance them, then slip it into OSX, and when the next Windows releases, with the feature, they’re called copy cats, it’s really ironic.

  4. @Mark, that keyboard looks like the tablet PC input keyboard, maybe they’re re-using that keyboard and replacing it as the OSK.

  5. @Panda X: that was also me :P

    @Long: haha, thanks for the mention. I was bored and reading your archived posts when I came across that. :)

  6. Very well put, Long: “If nothing else, this is a pretty good example of just how long it takes an idea from incubation to reach market and maybe an indication of just how many Longhorn-era innovations (and innovators) were ahead of their time.”

  7. This should also show how insanely advanced the mock ups from Longhorn Concept were in 2003 . they were so advanced that the hardware and configurations needed for them to run didn`t existed. everything in Windows 7 i see makes me think of Longhorn Concept from 2003. Windows 7 is Longhorn finally materialized.

    Windows 7 features also make the Microsoft PC designs for longhorn finally make sense beyond their beauty.

    http://www.istartedsomething.com/20071128/microsoft-ammunition-longhorn-pc-concept/
    http://www.istartedsomething.com/20070917/revisiting-microsofts-vista-pc-concept/

    Putting these two concepts together should also point out how Apple did grabbed lots of inspiration from Longhorn to make OS X and the iMac what it is today.

    1. Avatar, that’s nonsensical… Windows Vista would have gotten most of the features in Windows 7 if it weren’t for the myriad of development issues.

      Besides, there are a lot of things in Windows 7 that aren’t like Longhorn. For example, the Control Panel customization in Longhorn is much better than what is offered in Windows 7. Only three views!

  8. i’d be careful when u say about “ahead of their time” in the post, i don’t think they made the decision based on user acceptability, as we can see that many features were scrapped from Vista for whatever behind the curtain reasons, but one of those reasons I highly doubt to take user acceptability into concideration. the delorian, would be something ahead of it’s time. :P

  9. I still don`t get what is this feature good for. Temporarily enabling users what`s on tne desktop/gadgets? Is that the big idea?

  10. Does Apple have the whole slide everything out of the way expose thing patented or something? That is a far better implementation than this “only show me borders aka distracting lines” feature.

    If I want to temporarily see my desktop or gadgets, show me them, you don’t need to ghost windows. It doesn’t make the feature “cool”, it just makes it annoying.

  11. Aron, Jiri: This is not a function for showing gadgets! It´s called sneak peak and it hides all windows except the one you´re hovering in the taskbar

  12. Aero Peek, besides allowing you to ‘peek’ at the desktop/gadgets (You can also click to really show the desktop and again to bring back the windows), also allows you to ‘peek’ at any individual window before switching to it. Think of it as Apple’s Expose, but instead of showing you mini thumbnails, it just shows you the actual window content in its real position.

  13. OK, i get it now. It might be nice. But what I absolutely dig is thze Aero Snap – I`ve even downloaded it for XP. Great implementation of powerful idea.

  14. @Winston thats the biggest BS i have heard in a long time lmao, patent is part of every business apple has patents so does every other company and that doesnt mean anyone steals from each other in fact if the ideas are patented they cannot be copied thats the whole idea of a patent duh!

  15. Also, the Longhorn concepts are more thought out than their Windows 7 counterparts. For example. “Aero Snap” in Longhorn was more innovative

  16. Avatar, that’s nonsensical… I’m sure Windows Vista (Longhorn) would have received these features if not for the myriad of development issues.

    There are some things in Windows 7 that are worse than their Longhorn counterparts. For example, the Control Panel in Windows 7 only has three viewing modes. …Three!

    Also, the Longhorn concepts are better than their Windows 7 incarnations. Windows Longhorn “Aero Snap” has more, and arguably better functinoality compared to the feature offered in Windows 7.
    http://www.istartedsomething.com/20090627/windows-longhorns-aero-snap-circa-2005/

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