Through the Looking Glass

What's the fascination of 3D for the desktop?  I'm referring to the Sun announcement of its new Looking Glass desktop.  Of course, it looks intriguing.  I'm not one to scoff at the overuse of CPU power just for the sake of using it, and I have not seen a demonstration live so I'm definitely not in the know.  But what is it about 3D that people think is useful to apply to a desktop metaphor? 

Sure, its all fancy and glitzy, but has it really added anything new, made anything easier?  Does anyone recall all the failed and still failing attempts at making 3D virtual worlds where you walked around 3D spaces, only to saddle up to a 2D portal of your document/app/browser to actually do anything of note?  The rest of it was just brainless avatar scrambling.  If  I'm going to be doing that, at least let my slay a monster or two on my way to the trash bin.  Does the tedium of all this pseudo 'reality' get in the way of actually getting things done?

I'm not claiming the Sun product does any of that.  I'm not sure what it does, except twist your 2D windows into a slant view.  I suppose that's to make it easier to find what you are looking for, kind of a skewed thumbnail of your opened windows.   Frankly, I never have enough desktop real estate to do anything but stack the windows.  Usually I've got the apps maximized so it covers up everything else!

What do you think?


Comments (11)

  1. Scott says:

    You should go tell your Longhorn/Avalon cohorts your feelings on this matter. We’ve tried telling them that a 3D desktop really doesn’t matter to us but they don’t believe us. Maybe they’ll believe it coming from you?

  2. While I don’t see 3D desktops as particularly useful, I do love the idea of a windowing system built on vector graphics, instead of bitmap graphics. Being able to stretch/rotate and particularly scale easily will be nice. Once you’ve got that, why not throw the spiffy looking 3D stuff in, since it’s such a small incremental cost at that point?

  3. Chad Myers says:

    Well, aside from the fact that those slides from ‘Looking Glass’ are horribly attrocious (it harkens back to early 80’s colors and look’n’feel), I think that people spend too much time thinking big and not enough time thinking small.

    Seriously, I’m like you, everything maximized and ALT+TAB does wonders.

    I’d be happy with a simple adaptive ALT+TAB (watch which programs I’ve used most recently or have been using the longest and keep those near the front top).

  4. xam says:

    I think it’s safe to say that People like novelties

  5. Russ C. says:

    I think, that I didn’t understand the Idea of a 3D desktop until I saw the Real Media demonstration that Sun did. Once I saw it working, I got it and it’s a great idea.

    Have a look here

  6. Matt,

    i have 2 screens, maximized apps on both.

    maybe one needs to actually sit in front of one of these 3d desktops and work with them… but i have a feeling these things are simply a very effective way to use up all available screen estate in very little time.


    thomas woelfer

  7. Matt says:

    I have two screens too, both maxed. I’m hoping that someday the video card will support more. Maybe I need another video card, so I can have four screens? One day it will just be the whole wall and a tiny camera will track you arm movements. That’s when I finally need 3D, so I can spin around!

  8. Androidi says:

    Quite exciting month, lot of interesting announcements from all "camps" lately. I’d really hate to see Windows users have to wait for better search longer than Mac users. Technically it would be a couple week job from one top-notch MS coder to make the current XP’s search blazing fast. But I would be quite surprised to see that happen, as it would be one less good reason to wait for LH.

    If you were wondering how I’d make the search fast: Assume clean system -> start monitoring writes to disk -> if (writing) { if found((text passages || known formats like pdf)) { create full text index that allows fuzzy matching } As we can assume HDD writes are quite slow, so it would be of no noticeable CPU usage to make the text search and indexing etc while writing any binary data to HDD.

    If a new media source which was not indexed is introduced to the system, it would be sequentially read (no noisy seeking) through, except if read/write was requested. Known formats could be indexed on priority though.

  9. Androidi says:

    Actually, shouldn’t the "Indexing Service" already work just like I described? If so, then why it is so annoying and slow that I tend to turn it off – never figured this out.

  10. Androidi says:

    Comment flood. Make the damn indexing service to read the disks always _only_ sequentially, no seeks at all – this would be so noiseless that I wouldn’t know if its there. Eliminating HDD seeking is perfectly possible. Oh and my HDD is always 99.9% full, NTFS should not go unusable if people use their empty space.

  11. I, too work with two monitors and tipically one window maximized on each monitor. I believe that a 3D desktop would be of almost no use to me and most users I know, because most of the time we are only single-window, single-tasking.

    But, who cares? It’s cool! Everyone wants a Ferrari, even if it’s common sense that it has almost no use 🙂

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