Could Flip 3D make a (sort of) comeback for Windows desktop users?

When Windows Vista came out in 2007, Microsoft decided to put in two new features called Flip 3D, which allowed users to flip through open Windows applications on the desktop. Flip 3D, shown above, turned the open windows into cascading 3D images that can be browsed.

Microsoft put that feature inside Windows 7 but decided to do away with Flip 3D for the desktop UI in Windows 8. Now it appears that Microsoft is working on a new version of viewing open windows on a desktop that's similar to the Flip 3D UI.

The company filed for a patent application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in November but it was not published in public until last week. As you can see in the image above, the actual UI is close to Flip 3D. In the patent description, Microsoft admits that Apple came up with a way to browse through open windows in OS X called Expose (later called Mission Control) as thumbnails. However, the patent notice decides to take a small dig at Apple's approach, saying:

While Expose allows the user to view open windows simultaneously, multiple windows are tiled on the screen, which can still lead to some confusion. It would be helpful to provide an interface which allows a user to scan quickly through open windows, one at a time.

The new method that Microsoft wants a patent for would keep the relative sizes of open windows while also allowing for those open windows to fill the screen as opposed to the cascading effect that Flip 3D has. The fact that Microsoft is trying to file a patent on this new open windows feature shows that the company still knows that there are tons of desktop users of Windows and that the desktop UI isn't going away anytime soon. It's possible that this new feature could show up in a future version of Windows.

Source: USPTO | Images via Microsoft
Via: WinBeta.org

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Nah, this clearly came out of the original Flip3D for Longhorn/Vista, you can see from the listed inventors - Ales Holecek who was head of shell development at the time, but left the shell team after Win7 to take charge of developing the WinRT APIs (so he doesn't work on implementing window management UI anymore), and Hillel Cooperman who was a UX lead for Longhorn/Vista but left Microsoft a long time ago.

I always found Flip3D to be totally useless. It is just a prettier but less useful version of Alt-Tab. You can only see a small amount of the further back windows.
I've always felt that they should just double the size of the previews in the alt-tab switcher. As they are now they're pretty tiny.

AsherGZ said,
There's a third party utility that allows you to do that and tinker with other stuff. Just google Alt Tab Tuner.

I've tried it. If I make the previews big enough to be useful then the alt-tab window extends past the edges of the screen. It calculates the number of items per row based on the original width of the previews and the width of the screen, not the modified width of the previews.

mrp04 said,
I always found Flip3D to be totally useless. It is just a prettier but less useful version of Alt-Tab. You can only see a small amount of the further back windows.
I've always felt that they should just double the size of the previews in the alt-tab switcher. As they are now they're pretty tiny.

Flip 3D is actually one of the features I miss the most in Windows 8.
After using it for a period of time, I hated Alt+Tab.

Windows 8 is the best OS ever made, it is a huge sucessful for Microsoft! Critics rave, "Windows 8 is selling off the shelf like hotcakes, and desktop users absolutely love it".

More sensationalist Journalism

However, the patent notice decides to take a small dig at Apple's approach, saying:

showing an improvement upon prior works is an important part of getting a patent through if there are already patents relating to what you want to patent. It's not taking a dig at Apple, it's following the system.

I don't think that Apples Expose (Mission Control, whatever) will be a big problem. Flip 3D is in Windows since 2006, this looks more like that than Mission Control.

For Windows 8.1 or 8.2 (or 9)?

lctb51 said,
No, Metro is called now The Kids Corner! BTW Windows 8 is the best OS MS has ever made of all Windows

Actually no it's not. Not even called Metro anymore. Get it right.

if it's done right and a little more fluid and streamlined.
but right now, i really want to make folders on the start screen and options to choose the start screen background.

Avi Patel said,
if it's done right and a little more fluid and streamlined.
but right now, i really want to make folders on the start screen and options to choose the start screen background.
I'm all in for the backgrounds, but I'm not sure I follow when you say folders for the Start Screen?

Right now, you can pin folders to the Start Screen. Is that you meant?

Fus10n said,
This is good and all. But I think the ones that are concerned with this would prefer that start menu back,

Start menu isn't coming back. Neither is Flip3D.

it's common for patents to be filed long after the technology has been implemented, and sometimes even long after it has been dismissed.

remember this?
http://research.microsoft.com/...eople/dcr/work/taskgallery/

it's a 13 years old desktop project based on windows2000 that Microsoft research has since abandoned.

but two years ago, Microsoft has filed a patent on it, which led clueless journalists to predict that MS was going to create a 3D desktop for future Windows.

http://www.neowin.net/news/mic...task-gallery-user-interface

Microsoft is just trying to protect its past work. These patents don't mean anything about their future plans.

by the way, the funny thing is that Sun Looking Glass, the much hyped 3d desktop project from sun took a lot of ideas from Microsoft task gallery.
even Expose in OSX looks ridiculously close to the thumbnail previews used in Microsoft Task Gallery.

link8506 said,

it's common for patents to be filed long after the technology has been implemented, and sometimes even long after it has been dismissed.

Normally that's not allowed as you may not patent something you previously published...

Cool. I was stating that the users that would be most interested in this feature would prefer to have the start menu over this. That is all.

Fus10n said
This is good and all. But I think the ones that are concerned with this would prefer that start menu back,
And I'm sure there's still people who prefer the Program Manager back as well.

Fus10n said
Facepalm. Not really.. you can't compare the two.
I wasn't trying to compare the two. I was simply saying that there's always going to be a group of people who don't like change. I'm one of the few people who have this weird ability to adapt to change.