Avalon 3D goes official
Few days ago Joe Beda posted a screenshot and description of his WinHEC demo. This is awesome, I really like it. But I have some questions, too.
I see great potential here. My friends talk about Avalon 3D in terms of windows manager and operating system interface (floating windows, animated effects etc.). Now, this is something very different, an actual use of those techniques inside a living application. It's one step to 3D interfaces we know from Sci-Fi movies. Is that future of UI?
I wonder if that kind of user interface would be efficient for users. Did anybody make any usability tests on 3D interfaces, in typical applications? How 3D views could be used in software like word processors, spreadsheets, accounting software? I think we have to be very careful when determinig whether to use that capabilities or not.
There is so much to learn for everybody. If developers can do crappy UI with 2D, we could expect a real flood of overdesigned (and poorly designed) 3D apps, loosing what is the most important in Windows UI: similiarity of applications. We can see it now with flash websites: many of them force users to learn navigation from scratch. I can imagine great applications, though, ex. for real estate agencies. RSS aggregators could surely benefit here: for many users form of real 'virtual bookshelf' could be appealing. 3D gives us many interesting ways to visually categorize information. Embedded systems could visualize state of equipment controlled by them. Desktop games, file system visualization, even email applications. While it is tempting, we have to remember that form cannot be more important than matter. We have to find a right balance. Fortunately we still have enough time to master those decisions - Longhorn is still few years ahead. Let's try.