Workspaces in Windows

For some time now I have been left to wonder why there are not "workspaces" in Windows. In the time that I have been using Linux I have found multiple workspaces to be incredibly useful. Being able to have windows open on different workspaces is a really great way to have quick access to information, but not have it constantly distracting you away from work. I usually ended up with a layout something like this:
1. Browser w/ email, sports page, slashdot
2. gEdit, terminal, browser for programming reference
3. Either a different programming window (like #2) or a paper I'm writing or reading
4. Usually empty, otherwise it could be another space like 1-3

Now initially it doesn't seem like much, you could easily navigate around a Windows desktop with those Windows open. So what the big deal? Separation. Having email/sports/slashdot open, refreshing in the background, is just too tempting. All too often I find myself flipping over to that window just distract myself with Slashdot for a while.
So Linux has workspaces, and as of recently, OSX now has them as well, that only leaves Windows.

There are mainly a few arguments for why multiple workspaces are worthwhile. First, many users (myself included) find that workspaces improve productivity greatly. In the jobs I have worked at I often have seen co-workers with TONS of windows open and they have quite a time managing them. For those of us who don't have multi-monitor setups (or even if we do), workspaces provide a lot of extra room to work with.

Now if they are all I have cracked them up to be, why wouldn't Microsoft jump through rings of fire to make them? Well there are a few reasons why I would see them not doing this. First, there is probably a large population of Windows users who would likely not use them. Think about the grandmas and moms who use their computers to check email and look at pictures of their kids online, they either wont know about them, or not seen any use for them. This doesn't seem that bad since they would effectively be in the same position as they are now since they would not use the workspaces. It turns out not to be so simple, one could imagine how many times windows would magically "disappear" to other workspaces and they would have no idea how to get them back. Given that number of users who use Windows on a daily basis, the number of times this would happen would be astronomical.

I think a reasonable solution to this would be to only include workspaces in upgraded Windows editions, so leave it out of "Home" editions but include it in "Professional" or "Ultimate" editions. In doing this, workspaces would be provided to business and power users, while home users wouldn't have to deal with them, everyone is happy.

Originally I wrote about some of the patent issues that have come up with Red Hat and Apple from IP Solutions, and how that would affect Microsoft's decision to include that feature. In looking into it there seems there is more going then I originally noticed, so I'm going to do some homework on the topic before I comment here.

Tune in next time when I talk about how file sharing and BitTorrent help Web 2.0 technologies


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