So, I recently started working in a Microsoft laden environment. This place is crawling with Microsoft technologies from active directory to sharepoint. I noticed a seemingly trivial, but I feel, important trend in Microsoft’s software designs. They seem extremely hesitant to embrace tabs within their interfaces.
Now I know it sounds trivial, but consider for a moment that companies like AOL, Netscape, and Mozilla were infamous what you could do with tabs. Even Microsoft’s competitors like IBM with their Sametime messaging system, or Lotus Notes their mail/database system. Netscape stole market share from Microsoft with it’s decision to introduce tabs in it’s browser (Netscape that’ll take you back). AOL introduced tabs in it’s instant messaging client years ago. Why doesn’t communicator have that same functionality. Thunderbird and evolution both have tabbed reading pains. The ability to integrate tabs into a window or pull out again in Chrome, is frankly essential. My point here is that this is not a new idea. Microsoft has had time to implement this feature.
Now, I think it’s indisputable that Microsoft markets these tools to professionals. People that don’t have time to have one thing up at a time. These people might realistically have fifteen to sixteen windows up (typically on relatively small low resolution monitors). Now my observation has been that the applications that are most responsible for this rampant misuse of desktop real estate are typically applications from the office suite. A user may have five emails open. There might be five people contacting him via communicator. Now their talking about two word attachments that got sent to the wrong place. In this scenario there are twelve windows up when there only needed be three.
My one request to Microsoft is this, borrow a page out of a ten year old playbook, and consider implementing this ancient but essential feature.