Microsoft is everywhere. One form or another of Windows can be found on most computers in the world today. Redmond is rocking most people’s work rigs and if you’re a serious gamer, the odds very good that your last computer wasn’t designed in Cupertino. For most folks, software conformity is a given. They accept that with the exception of their wallpaper, their graphical user interface most likely is identical to that of their neighbors. A few of us however, refuse to fall into line, preferring instead to tweak, preen and modify the looks of our Windows GUI until it can hardly be recognized as such. If you’re interested in taking a first bold step into something a little snazzier than your computer’s stock aesthetics have to offer, you could do a lot worse than downloading Cooliris.
You might not have heard of the Astonishing Tribe (TAT). But if you carry an Android phone, you are enjoying their work. TAT designed the pull down notification bar that makes Android notifications so efficient. TAT has developed user interface paradigms for numerous companies, but now they will be lending their expertise to a single company: RIM. That's right, the BlackBerry UI might be getting a lot more awesome now that RIM has acquired TAT.
On the RIM company blog, the company CTO David Yach said he was "excited" to have TAT joining RIM to work on both the BalckBerry Playbook and smartphones. This is great news for fans of the Canadian smartphone maker. While their business functionality has always been solid, a dated UI and lack of consumer features would be liabilities going forward.
This does, however, mean that Android will have to soldier on without TAT's UI prowess. How do you think this will affect the BlackBerry interface going forward?
The Russian press site of software giant Microsoft may have gotten a little overzealous today and posted a screen shot showing off the new UI for Internet Explorer 9. The preview builds have this far shown no evolution of the interface, but everyone was expecting some big changes come the beta. Immediately after the image was posted, it was pulled back down, but ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley managed to grab the image first.
What we're looking at here is a vastly different look for Microsoft's browser. Frankly, that's a good start as IE8 was starting to look ancient compared to other browsers. The window is much more minimalist. Toward the left there are back and forward buttons, then immediately to the right is a unified Search/URL bar. As we continue across the top of the window, we come upon the tab area, which is on the same level as the URL bar. We can assume this area will dynamically shrink the Search/URL bar as more tabs are open. It could get cluttered, but will offer more space for the web page.
There really isn't much more to the interface. The Home, Favorites, and Menu icons are over on the right, much like Chrome. The top of the window has the Windows Aero glass effect going on, also like Chrome. The Russian site also mentions "tear off tabs" which will be an extension of Aero Snap for viewing tabs in a split screen view. We're very interested to see how this browser looks when the bets is finally released. Sources have previously stated that should happen in September. What are your thoughts about the new Internet Explorer UI?
Office 14 (2010) has only been out a few months now, but a leaked pre-alpha build of Office 15 suggests that Microsoft is planning a new application known at this point only as “Microsoft Lime”. Very little is known about Lime at this point, however ZDnet blogger Mary Jo Foley claims her contacts describe it as a “user-interface utility for Office”.
Based on this description it is hard to tell if Microsoft Lime will indeed be a stand-alone application, or perhaps just a new feature similar to the ribbon. The speculation was further heightened by a Linked-In profile update from a former Microsoft Intern who claims he helped work on a “major new feature” in the upcoming Office 15.
It’s hard to imagine what if anything Microsoft could add or change to make Office anymore capable than it already is. They clearly have some work to do tying together their online and offline offerings, but it doesn’t sound like Lime is it. Office 15 probably won’t ship until at least 2013, so we have plenty of time to speculate on this one. Anyone care to guess what the new application might be?
Google has been iterating Android at an astounding pace since it was first introduced in the fall of 2008. Barely a few months have passed in between releases, and now much of the feature set has been fleshed out. Ask most people familiar with the operating system what's still missing, and they'll probably say the user experience needs work. Google has apparently gotten the message, because sources within the Android team are saying the upcoming Gingerbread release will focus on improving the user interface.
The overall polish of the operating system has been a sore spot for the open source software. Apple's iPhone OS is much more tightly controlled, but more cohesive experience. Various third parties have tried to build skins for Android to clean up some of the rough edges. The most obvious example of this is HTC's Sense UI. Google may not be looking to squash these ventures, but maybe make them less necessary.
It's hard to build a really slick user interface when you have so many different devices floating around. But Google's recent hiring of Palm UI engineer Matias Duarte could be a sign the search giant is serious. We're looking forward to trying some tasty Gingerbread, but we haven't even had our Froyo (Android 2.2) yet.
Google has finally begun widespread rollout of their new search results page after a testing period. Google has added a number of useful options to a new left hand column. The column is separated into three sections: Universal Search, the Search Options panel and Something Different.
Universal search is at the top and helps users refine their searches by suggesting search "genres". The "Everything" option is selected as the default and provides the classic Google results. It can be used to narrow results to categories like "News" or "Blogs". Below that is the search options panel which was rolled out last year, so you're probably already familiar with it. It is mainly used to change how the search results are displayed.
The bottom block in the new column is called Something Different. It is based on a labs project called Google Squared. This section is designed to help users compare search results. Based on search context, this area will provide similar searches. Now this is integrated right into the search results page.
According to Google, the new page will be rolling out to all users by the end of the day. Do you have the new look yet? If so, what do you think?
Anyone can benchmark a Web browser. While the overall validity of any given browser test can vary, in terms of how well it actually indicates a browser's average performance, there are nevertheless a ton of different ways to approximate your browser's rendering speeds. And not only can you run these tools across different versions of a single browser--you can use the benchmarks to compare competing browsers to determine which is really the best combination of speed and features for you.
Let it not be said that I don't pay attention to the demands of the readers. No sooner did I wrap up another comparative analysis of three slammin' freeware applications for altering your desktop in new and unique ways then, well, you all talked. And talked. And talked.
That's not a bad thing, however. A number of you voiced support for your favorite applications and utilities that you use to radically transform the look of your traditional Windows desktop in some pretty awesome ways. It would be a shame to let these suggestions languish in the comments thread of an old article, however. So, this week, Freeware Files is all about you. I'll be featuring your suggestions for applications and showing people why they should consider your alternatives for giving their desktops a refreshed look.
Got it? Click the jump and let's check out what your peers are using to make their Windows desktops look amazing!
There are quite a number of tools out there for stretching the core functionality of your desktop in new directions. Some of these third-party replacements keep your standard setup and add a unique extension--like a 360-degree wallpaper that you can scroll through with mouse gestures. Fun stuff, huh? Other tools are a bit more comprehensive in their objectives, allowing for a total retrofit of very core of your desktop's operation. In these cases, gone are the typical organizational structures, options, and extensions you can pack into a Windows desktop--it's all brand-new and editable in ways you might have never previously thought were possible.
The best way to really get a feel for what's out there is to see it in action. So we're going to take a look at three unique desktop enhancement tools--one 3D, one shell replacement, and one widget-based service--and see just how they stack up versus the usability of the trusty Windows setup we've all come to know and love (or hate.)
You don't hear much about Silverlight these days, but rest assured, Microsoft is still hard at work on the speedy little flash competitor. Of course, a platform is only as powerful as its applications, and a new Silverlight Facebook client does a fantastic job of showcasing this power. The lightweight and lightening fast new interface works on both Mac's and PC's, and is a significant improvement to the look and feel of Facebook.
Created using the developer preview edition of Silverlight 4, the new Facebook client pretty much bypasses any need you would ever have to visit the full website. You can access your groups, friends list, inbox, and even upload / manage your photo galleries. It makes a great alternative for those who wish to get caught up with family and friends in peace, while conveniently doing away with those pesky ads.
Future versions are expected to strip away the Window chrome , and will allow you to quickly and easily import pictures from a digital camera directly into any photo gallery. To give the beta a spin, simply navigate on over to the landing page to install the new version of Silverlight. Give it a try and let us know what you think in the comments after the jump.