Linked by David Adams on Thu 12th May 2011 17:19 UTC, submitted by rhyder
Graphics, User Interfaces Back in the 80s, a GUI paradigm called WIMP (Windows, Icons, Mouse, Pointer) began to establish itself as the new way in which most people interacted with a computer. When it comes to one of the most significant elements of that system, overlapping windows, I'm beginning to wonder, has it had its day?
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RE: Interesting idea but...
by Doc Pain on Sat 14th May 2011 09:45 UTC in reply to "Interesting idea but..."
Doc Pain
Member since:
2006-10-08

I don't see overlapping windows going away. For me, personally, I like windows to overlap a little.


If you can control such situations properly (e. g. by a handy combination of mouse and keyboard and the model "focus follows mouse"), it can even help in productivity. Also, not having "everything" in one program window can be a benefit, especially for very complex programs. Their functionalities, each one represented by an own window, can be arranged on multiple virtual desktops. I would assume this concept is "very complicated" (haha) to novice users, as it requires a working brain, but it has lots of potential in relation with maximized windows.

Although the article states: "One of few things that Microsoft can claim to have developed from scratch is an efficient method of application switching called the taskbar, although it's now in the process of being superseded on most GUIs by the application dock.", I think it was already common prior to the task bar to use virtual desktops on X based GUI systems. Those allow you to easily switch between maximized windows, no batter if this is done by mouse or, often more comfortable, by keyboard.

Overlapping windows can be a problem if a window manager hasn't enough useful ways to move them. One problem could be that a program window gets moved its title bar above the upper screen limit. That can happen by accident - wrong initial window placement. What do you do? In X, you simply press Alt, click left somewhere inside the window (doesn't matter where exactly) and move it down. What do you if this happens on "Windows"?

I find it quicker for me to just move my mouse a little to select something at the bottom of a page. If a user can't grasp that and they want fullscreen - more power to them!


I do also very often see fullscreen approaches. Sadly, there are users who don't get the idea of having two (or more) programs in parallel, while just seeing one of then on the screen. What is their "solution"? Starting program A, working with it in fullscreen, pressing "the red X", and then starting program B, doing the same, and starting program A again. I've seen that too often to claim that it's just a minor side effect.

Another thing worth mentioning is the waste of screen in fullscreen applications. I may say that many "modern" web pages have been maliciously designed with a fixed width in mind. This leads to "white stripes" on the left and the right of the page's content when the broswer runs in fullscreen with a width of 2400px, while the web page assumes 1024px width. It doesn't "size automatically", but instead "squeezes" content horizontally.

On the other hand, there are programs that make good use of the 16:9 aspect ratio in fullscreen. Although I would prefer the approach of 9:16 (because especially for office tasks where you deal with paper, you need more Y than X, not more X than Y), modern wide screens can bring some comfort that professional users know from "dual head" settings - and maximized windows are a common concept there, at least on one of the two screens. :-)

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