Sun's Project Looking Glass vs. MS TaskGallery

Sun's Project Looking Glass (video) is in the news - the story made the front page on google news, and it's on the front page of the sun site. The video's got quite a bit of eye-candy, but doesn't really seem to offer much in terms of usability. Flipping windows around and typing notes on the back might be nice, I guess. The rest looked great in a demo, but that's it.

A comment in the Seattle PI article indicated that MS Research talked about something like this 4 years ago - TaskGallery (video). It's an ugly site, and comparing the two videos shows the huge advances video cards have made in 4 1/2 years, but if you can look past that you can compare the actual usability aspects (i.e. what you'd want to use day after day vs. what you'd want to show off), the TaskGallery approach goes quite a bit further:

(you really have to watch the video to get the idea)

Both are interesting, but I think I'll save the 3-D for Gorilla at Large.

A funny sidenote - the Sun demo repeatedly points out that a 3-D desktop is the kind of thing that can happen when the software community as a whole approaches a problem as opposed to a single (unspoken “eeeevil”) company. Funny that MSFT was working on this 4 years ago... Good thing Sun's on an innovation rampage with the Java Desktop...


  • Not to be directed specifically at you, but this article kind of set me off. :)

    The consensus of this site ( is starting to get like Slashdot. On Slashdot, in general, Linux == God and Microsoft == Fat Money Hungry Big Brother. These blogs are starting to show the same type of big head towards Sun now. Microsoft == God and Sun == Pathetic attempt to copy God.

    It's not that I don't enjoy reading both types of articles, I just figured that we as a community could be above that type of behavior.

  • i.e., develop using MS technology - not developers at MS (well not yet :-))

  • The old concept of "who thunk it first" doesn't work and doesn't apply unless there have been copyrights and trademarks reserved.

    Placing the 2 versions side by side only shows that the concept that MS demonstrated is old and outdated and that SUN has developed an exciting and eagerly awaited alternative to the standard 2D desktop.

    The other argument made is whether or not this new approach to screen realstate management is usable. This is simply a preference. I am quite happy with 3 monitors on 1 system, while others are very happy with 1 monitor and 10 virtual desktops.

    In all - I am excited to see new developments across all platforms and desktop systems.


  • Loyal -

    What you say is true to a point. I've often heard this reversed, though - Windows was just copied from Mac, etc.

    Another point here - my post was really a response to the Sun video I cited. The presenter - I forget his name, let's call him Mr. Smug Presenter Guy - repeatedly pointed out that only the non-MSFT community could come up with something as revolutionary as a 3D desktop. He was incorrect on that point. I'd let it slip if he hadn't repeated it about 10 times in a 5 minute video.

    - Jon

  • Although I am eagerly awaiting the release of project Looking Glass, I am still unsure of how it will affect day to day work and overall progress as a tool.

    Unless this new architecture resolves many of the inconsistencies within the X environment it will only be a nice piece of eye candy or flavor of the month.

    My intent isn't to sound negative, but in many cases the user interface isn't the most important part - As Jeff stated above non-existant and / or useful (working) software and utilities are the key.


  • It's not sun's fault that MS let this kind of project slip away. It could have been a wel formed gui for ppl that like to see thousends of things at the same time. And then again, it probably would require a lot of your system to run such applications.

  • I'm not quite a eye-candy guy as I use plain Windows 2000 theme on XP. However, I think people should look forward. Forget resource constraints for today's computer, 4 years from now, you will be using some 5Ghz CPU and 2Ghz GPU. Let's find something for this horse power!

    As for whether 3D desktop is actually productive or not, I guess we will have to wait until one useful implementation comes out and all the new ideas when people get used to it. Remember how long Windows (or how many versions it takes) to becomes actually useful?

    BTW, I do think that monopoly=evil=less innovation. This is just human nature, if you dont do anything and still get paid, For people don't remember, do you really think MS will release .Net if not facing competition from Java.

  • Hi,

    Microsoft may have made "something" which was slightly akin to a 3d desktop, but come on! That could have been thrown together by any 3d game programmer, it's simply some hacked up version of wolfenstein 3d.

    Sun's 3d desktop looks to be fast, usable, and fun to look at. And, they are actually the first ones to do it. If you're saying that MS taskgallery actually preceeded sun's project looking glass and implemented even a smiliar Idea, I can only say that's absurd. That would be akin to saying that landing on the moon wasn't such a big deal, the russians had already sent stuff into space!

    Also, the reason that Slashdot rarely accepts pro MS stories has one simple reason: They're almost always directly paid for by microsoft.

    Oh yeah, that "smug presenter guy" has a reason to be smug, he's the CEO of sun, Jonathan Schwartz.

  • He's the EVP of Software, not the CEO.

    And it's just eye-candy until someone makes an application that actually works better because of it.

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