Windows 8: Side-by-side app viewing is a game changer

Windows 8: Side-by-side app viewing is a game changer

Summary: Tablets are designed to handle single tasks at a time, but the ability to sometimes run two apps side-by-side as demonstrated with Windows 8 is revolutionary.

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If you have ventured out on the web this week you have no doubt bumped into demonstrations of Windows 8. Microsoft has thrown off the covers on its next version of Windows and in particular is showing off its aptitude with tablets. One of the features already baked in this early version of Windows 8 is something I have often wished other tablets could do. The simple ability to put two Metro apps side-by-side on one screen is as useful as anything I have seen on any tablet platform.

The Metro UI as Microsoft is calling its touch tablet interface is already looking like a good alternative to the existing platforms. Like iOS, Android, and webOS, Metro is designed to run apps in a full-screen mode that takes advantage of tablet displays and available system resources. While that is the preferred method of operation normally, my heavy tablet usage has demonstrated that sometimes it would be very useful to have two apps on the display at once.

Windows 8 handles this as part of the OS, and the way it works is revolutionary. With one app on the display, you simply swipe in from the side and "pull" the other app onto the screen from the left. You can drag it until the app display is as big as desired, and "drop" it alongside the original app. You are then free to reference material in one app while working in the other. This is as potentially useful as any feature on tablets today.

I have only seen two limited attempts at this app sharing on tablets. The Glimpse app on the cancelled TouchPad can display two (or more) apps side-by-side on the screen, and while limited to a fixed display configuration this can be useful. The Plume twitter app on Android can display the Twitter timeline on the left of the screen and a fixed browser window on the right for displaying links in tweets. Both of these implementations are very useful but limited in what you can do in the multiple windows.

Windows 8 lets you do this with any Metro apps, and with the multiple displays as big as you want. As a long-time tablet enthusiast I am getting more excited about Windows 8 due to features like this. I am not convinced that having a "one size fits all" Windows that works on both tablets and desktops is the way to go, but I like what I see that Microsoft has done with it so far.

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Topics: Software, Microsoft, Mobility, Operating Systems, Windows

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31 comments
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  • BS!

    Linux has been using this paradigm for many years.
    M$ merely copy FOSS.
    The Linux Geek
    • LOL!

      @The Linux Geek
      You make this stuff as you go along? :)
      William Farrell
    • RE: Windows 8: Side-by-side app viewing is a game changer

      Sorry, @The Linux Geek, but this has not been seen before, not even in Linux.

      (edit: addition)
      If you are referring to "windowed apps", this is different. A similarity is with Windows 7 Aero snap, but that was windows, this is full screen apps with no "chrome".
      grayknight
    • So what?!

      Ford "stole" the idea of a steering wheel from Mercedes.... Pepsi "stole" cola flavoring from Coca-Cola... Cisco "stole" the idea of the telephone handset from Bell.... Humans "stole" breathing from amoebae....

      SO WHAT?! I'm so tired of the stole/copied argument. Let the new technology live or die on its own merits and forget who you "think" stole from whom.
      bahnjee
  • RE: Windows 8: Side-by-side app viewing is a game changer

    what do you mean <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VvfRpmqKRbs&feature=related" target="_blank">game changer</a>?
    Return_of_the_jedi
    • RE: Windows 8: Side-by-side app viewing is a game changer

      @Return_of_the_jedi :D
      JustCallMeBC
    • RE: Windows 8: Side-by-side app viewing is a game changer

      @Return_of_the_jedi

      +1
      Wakemewhentrollsgone
    • RE: Windows 8: Side-by-side app viewing is a game changer

      @Return_of_the_jedi

      Quick, show me a tablet doing all of that....
      Michael Alan Goff
      • RE: Windows 8: Side-by-side app viewing is a game changer

        @Michael Alan Goff
        <i><a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LGY9cwSjZsU&feature=player_embedded#!" target="_blank">Quick</a>, show me a tablet doing all of that....</i>
        Return_of_the_jedi
      • RE: Windows 8: Side-by-side app viewing is a game changer

        I'm not stupid, that isn't a tablet.

        It's a normal desktop.
        Michael Alan Goff
    • What about those effects

      @Return_of_the_jedi

      are anything more than eye candy? Nothing I saw in that video looked like it helped productivity. So your point? Because windows stretch when you move them around it's better than Windows? You know what I didn't see? Office. Photoshop. AutoCAD. So what was that to prove?
      LiquidLearner
      • RE: Windows 8: Side-by-side app viewing is a game changer

        @LiquidLearner <br><br>1. He IS a web developer.<br> Didn't you notice Bluefish @ 1.40 ?. Looking for AutoCad?<br><br>2. You have you use (compiz) it to know it's value.<br><br><br>PS. Stay in your Windows world. <br>Its a whole world out there if you were to look out of it.
        Return_of_the_jedi
      • RE: Windows 8: Side-by-side app viewing is a game changer

        @LiquidLearner A lot of the stuff is utter eye candy. So? Is there anything wrong with eye candy? Windows 7 has plenty.

        If this makes the computer more fun isn't this enough (even if you are working on it - can't you do that and have fun?)

        However, the cube thing is actually quite cool, it does allow you to keep track of a lot of windows more easily. So that's a productivity gain (assuming you work with multiple windows).
        Jeremy-UK
  • RE: Windows 8: Side-by-side app viewing is a game changer

    Game changer? Have you used Windows 7? This "game changer" sure didn't help HP sell those Windows 7 Slates, did it?
    whatadude
    • RE: Windows 8: Side-by-side app viewing is a game changer

      @whatadude

      This is in Windows 8.

      Good try, though.
      Michael Alan Goff
  • RE: Windows 8: Side-by-side app viewing is a game changer

    nothing new, it's still not good enough for Mac users because OS X is still the world's best OS. So move on
    shellcodes_coder
  • Note that you only get this feature if your tablet

    has a wide enough display.
    baggins_z
  • RE: Windows 8: Side-by-side app viewing is a game changer

    Ok, this is one of the features that the cancelled Courier was supposed to do. I think the research effort Microsoft put into Courier becomes part of Windows 8, if it is that, that would be really a gamechanger.
    Ram U
  • RE: Windows 8: Side-by-side app viewing is a game changer

    I think Courier (Cancelled research project at MSFT) will be totally included into Win8 and if it is so, then definitely it will be a game changer.
    Ram U
  • RE: Windows 8: Side-by-side app viewing is a game changer

    Two apps on a single display - revolutionary? Really?! Weird how it doesn't feel revolutionary. It looks awkward, and a little convoluted.
    Jeremy-UK