Friday, December 12, 2008

Taskbar changes in PC/OS 2009.1

There are a couple of changes that we are looking into for PC/OS 2009.1 for the taskbar. We want to add more real estate for the taskbar so we are implementing 1 definate change. The removal of the trash can. There are 2 other surfaces for accessing and manipulating the trashcan. One is the desktop, the other is the thunar file manager. So we thought to eliminate the surface least used by users and the one we notice is removed on 90% of the deployments we have seen, the taskbar. The applet will still be available for use by those users who decide that they still want it.

Secondly we have removed the tasklist and put in Iconbox. Iconbox is pretty functional by itself and offers a more visual appearance to the running tasks. Minimized tasks are greyed out and the active windows has a bright icon with a border around it. This also helps distinguish from tasks not minimized but not active.
As you can see to remove some of the confusion regarding Iconbox and launchers we have placed Iconbox on the far right and the launchers on the far left along with the menu and the Places applet with a clear seperation. Also, when you close windows the Iconbox shrinks and disappears. While this change will be welcome by some, not all will like it so we are still including the tasklist for those that want to go back to the old ways.

The next question regarding the Icon box is, what happens if I have multiple Firefox windows open, how can I distinguish? when you hover above the icon a pop up tells you what page you are currently working with. If you are viewing a document in ePDFview or editing multiple Abiword or writer documents, the document title appears in the pop-up. We are also looking at enabling grouping with the applet so that users will be able to click on the icon and get a list of whats open. This is a feature being worked on and is not currently built into Iconbox.

Finally, what type of Window manipulation can be performed with Iconbox? We dont have Open dialogs, this would be too much like Windows 7 jump lists which we are sure are patented by Microsoft. Currently you can close windows, shade windows, hide windows, move to another desktop etc. This is the extent of Iconbox and we will continue testing and doing usablity tests with beta testers to see if the changes increase productivity and usability. if not we will stay with the current setup if it proves to be too daunting for users to "pick up on". The development team and the current users of this setup like the changes and think the most of them but once again, the broader the testing the more feedback we get.

We are continuing to refine PC/OS and hope that you, our loyal users, will be just as happy with the setup as we are. Considering PC/OS 2009.1 will only be available for download via Open32 Desktop, we do want to make sure users of Workstation are getting the most bang for their buck.
These changes will also debut in the Open64 series.

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