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Apple Files Patent for Translucent Windows

CowboyNeal posted more than 9 years ago | from the nobody-does-it-better dept.

Patents 845

jpkunst writes "John Kheit at Mac Observer reports on US Patent Application No. 20040090467, published on May 13, 2004, in which Apple filed a patent application for 'Graduated visual and manipulative translucency for windows.'" Begin the hunt for prior art! It's a challenge to find a non-Apple translucent window that isn't just a snippet of desktop wallpaper pasted in the background.

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845 comments

Software patents are evil (5, Insightful)

Cyberllama (113628) | more than 9 years ago | (#9160850)

Or are we all going to change our stance because its Apple?

It'll be interesting to see how the opinions on Slashdot differ from if any other company tried this sort of garbage.

Re:Software patents are evil (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9160902)

It's sad that the world's coming to all these patents but if Apple doesn't patent this some other company might. Given Apple's involment in the open source community with Darwin, http://www.opensource.apple.com/ , I would rather see them with a patent for this than some company based on patents only.

Re:Software patents are evil (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9161008)

It's sad that the world's coming to all these patents but if Apple doesn't patent this some other company might.

No, that's a mistake a lot of people make. If Apple really did do it first then no one else can patent it anyway (prior art).

The whole idea of patenting software (especially "look and feel" shit) is retarded.

Uh, well (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9160981)

Last I checked the anger around here doesn't seem to be outrage at companies holding patents. It's outrage at companies using patents.

Apple patents practically everything they work with but very, very, very rarely uses any of these patents. In fact if you look at their intellectual property actions, some of them are kind of morally dubious but they almost never involve patents. Even when they're making legal threats against things which actually violate patents they hold-- for example, Aqua skins for other OSes-- they tend to choose to base their legal complaints on means other than patents, other forms of intellectual property.

Since history shows that Apple tends not to use patents they hold, I don't see any problem with them holding a bad patent. This is probably just the old "defensive patent" technique, where someone patents something just to make sure no one else can claim it was stolen, or to build up a "patent shield".

Of course, it's very easy that someday all the big software companies could choose to start using their defensive patents offensively, and the patent shields would become a shieldwall blocking any small companies from entering the business. But at the moment that's just a hypothetical, and Apple has no more or fewer frivolous patents than any other large software company, pretty much. We don't get pissy at those other such companies, for example IBM. Therefore not getting pissy at Apple would appear to be the consistent thing to do?

But the prior art search is still a good idea! It's good to have these things as clearly documented as possible in case spurious claims ever did wind up happening.

Re:Software patents are evil (4, Insightful)

segfault_0 (181690) | more than 9 years ago | (#9160983)

Nope its still bad.

I can understand why though, without their GUI to set them apart what do they really have to offer? With Linux making some slight headway into the desktop market, and appearing to be ready to take up Microsoft slack if and when it appears, Apple will be hard pressed over the next few years to solidify their stance on such issues as much as possible.

Not to mention that Microsoft will patent everything [eweek.com] if Apple doesn't. Are they competeing with software or patent portfolios... or is there a difference these days?

Re:Software patents are evil (1)

NiTr|c (130325) | more than 9 years ago | (#9160991)

No, I still think software patents are evil AND stupid. It doesn't matter who's filing them.

Prior art? Easy... (1, Informative)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 9 years ago | (#9160851)


E-term, several years ago.

Re:Prior art? Easy... (1)

Peterius (606003) | more than 9 years ago | (#9160871)

Yeah Is there a reason why E-term isn't prior art? It doesn't update while the window is dragged, but...

Re:Prior art? Easy... (4, Informative)

boaworm (180781) | more than 9 years ago | (#9161013)

Well atleast it updates when completely moved.

Perhaps (just guessing) Eterm doesnt qualify because of the way the "transparancy" was accieved. Afaik, every Eterm had in memory a copy of the background image, and just painted the approperiate part as it's (Eterms) backgroud. So it did NOT "read" the actual background imaging, it just painted the background picture.

As a result, if you had multiple windows on top of each other, all showed the background, while on "Terminal.app" (OS X), the transparancy shows underlying windows, apps, graphics et al.

Re:Prior art? Easy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9160885)

True... And we can also consider all those software mp3 players, too. For example Sonique uses transparency to create the illusion of an artistically-shaped window instead of your average I-am-a-rectangle window. And I started to use Sonique in 1999...

Re:Prior art? Easy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9160933)

There's a difference between transparency though, and translucency. Sonique used transparency, i.e. having some pixels as part of the foreground, others showing through to the background entirely. Translucency is when background pixels show through at some percentage (25% or 50%, for example), and are "blended" into the foreground window. (For example, a background pixel of blue and a foreground pixel of red, at 50% translucency, would produce a shade of purple.)

Re:Prior art? Easy... (5, Interesting)

whovian (107062) | more than 9 years ago | (#9160908)

Translucency has been around for a while, but Apple is filing for time dependent translucency. E-term had that?

MOD PARENT UP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9160970)

Finally, after 60 posts, someone RTFA....!

Re:Prior art? Easy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9160976)

But how the hell is "time dependant translucency" even a patentable "thing"?

That's like patenting breathing and then patenting "breathing really fast".

Re:Prior art? Easy... (2, Insightful)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 9 years ago | (#9160995)

Time dependent translucency?? Wow, hook a timer to ramp the window translucency up or down. That took about 10 seconds of work. If I control it by the phase of the Moon, can I patent that?

Novelty not there. (1)

eddy (18759) | more than 9 years ago | (#9160998)

Who cares? It's not NOVEL!

The only reason most implementations of 'transparency' isn't 'real' (only one layer and/or non-realistic blending and/or not affecting certain surfaces (such as video) is because the CPU/GPUs haven't been fast enought to implement it, not because no-one thought of it.

I assume they're trying to patent some particular implementation, and not the idea tough. If it's the idea this shit should be fucking ripped apart and pain administered.

If it's a particular implementation it's just software patent (aka 'math') stupidity. Hmm.. thinking about it.. Yeah, that deserves the same treatment.

Re:Prior art? Easy... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9161009)

"Translucency has been around for a while, but Apple is filing for time dependent translucency."

Translucent windows?

(looks outdoors)

How are they new again?

Re:Prior art? Easy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9160945)

It's a challenge to find a non-Apple translucent window that isn't just a snippet of desktop wallpaper pasted in the background.


I actually thought the way Eterm accomplished (quasi-)translucency could be classified as "snippet of desktop wallpaper pasted in the background". Am I wrong?

1998 (2, Informative)

ink (4325) | more than 9 years ago | (#9160946)

Here's a screen shot I have from 1998: http://inconnu.isu.edu/~ink/new/linux/handogod_med .jpg

Re:1998 (2, Informative)

ink (4325) | more than 9 years ago | (#9160973)

Of course, Slashdot had to put a space in the URL; here's an actual link: Hand of God Shot [isu.edu]. This was old-hat by 1998 as well; people had been running translucent windows for years prior to then.

Re:Prior art? Easy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9160969)

Eterm fakes it by grabbing the background.

Re:Prior art? Easy... (1)

KingOfBLASH (620432) | more than 9 years ago | (#9161007)

nVidia cards come with the nVidia desktop, which allows (among other things) you to use hardware acceleration to turn windows translucent.

Well Virt-Demension had it in Febuary 2003 (3, Informative)

Y! (109179) | more than 9 years ago | (#9160853)

https://sourceforge.net/project/shownotes.php?rele ase_id=142811

Trillian also has it, but I don't know when they added it. I thought win2k also had it built in when it came out.

Win 2K (2, Informative)

milsim (739431) | more than 9 years ago | (#9161012)

That's right, Win2K had it at least since 1999, and I'm absolutely sure there are much earlier examples.

Re:Well Virt-Demension had it in Febuary 2003 (4, Informative)

nacturation (646836) | more than 9 years ago | (#9161022)

This isn't just regular transparency. I know people don't read the freaking article, but this is it in a nutshell:

*** WINDOW GETS MORE AND MORE TRANSLUCENT AS IT'S USED LESS ***

It's the time dependency which is the invention they're patenting here.

Prior art found!! (5, Funny)

aardvarko (185108) | more than 9 years ago | (#9160856)

Yeah, I've got some windows with graduated transparency that can be manipulated. They're in my FREAKIN' CAR.

Uh... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9160858)

Enlightenment?

Re:Uh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9160974)

It's a challenge to find a non-Apple translucent window that isn't just a snippet of desktop wallpaper pasted in the background.

Apple? (1)

NeoChaosX (778377) | more than 9 years ago | (#9160862)

We don't need to worry too much. It's not as if Linux utilizes that technology.

Re:Apple? (1)

kunudo (773239) | more than 9 years ago | (#9160913)

Riiiight, irrelevant.

Apple shouldn't have an exclusive right to it, though. This sets precedence, so that next, someone can patent other generic things, like start menus, multiple desktops, clocks, directories etc. Or it may be thrown out. I hope so.

I believe... (2, Insightful)

slasher999 (513533) | more than 9 years ago | (#9160864)

OS/2 Warp 4 Betas offered translucent windows. The feature was removed from the final release for performance reasons. Hardware just wasn't quite there in '95 to support that feature. As least that's my recollection of it.

Listen and learn Apple fans (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9160868)

Apple is every bit as bad as Microsoft -- worse even because they control both the hardware and software. Apple is not your friend. It's not your pal. It's not your bestest buddy who really supports you when things aren't going well. It's a vicious company who uses bullshit lawsuits, pitiful IP abuses and supports DRM.

Shun them.

Re:Listen and learn Apple fans (1)

iethree (666892) | more than 9 years ago | (#9160935)

but we have to root for apple because they're the underdog, that's how it works; you shun the big bad monopoly and love the underdog, it's just the way of things. In 10 years or so when apple has the monopoly on the PC market, we'll all be micrsoft (or whoever happens to be the underdog) sypathizers and we'll all be bashing apple on the slashdot message boards

Re:Listen and learn Apple fans (5, Insightful)

fmorgan (235244) | more than 9 years ago | (#9160993)

Apple is a company owned by their shareholders; the same with Microsoft, IBM, etc. And their behavior isn't all that different, except one little detail: one of them is a monopoly.
If some kind of behavior is legal (even if someone don't like it too much) for a smaller company, one that owns 90%+ of the market can't behave the same way.

now for the "control both the hw and sw" myth... Apple just uses an older business model, where they assemble a machine and it's OS (hw is basically a PC's, with the difference of an IBM/Motorola RISC chip).

But this is true, that Apple "is not your friend". The same with MS, and IBM and HP, Dell, Sun, etc. Companies are not "friends", they are businesses and they will choose one course of action over another to make $$ or, at most, sometimes to win some goodwill (and probably someone is measuring this in $$ terms).

Re:Listen and learn Apple fans (5, Insightful)

polyp2000 (444682) | more than 9 years ago | (#9161021)

worse even because they control both the hardware and software

And you think that Microsoft dont control both the hardware and the software? (and that's not all else they control either!) Im amazed you are that shortsighted.

Current Slashdot Groupthink? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9160869)

Wait - do we love Apple today, or hate them?

It's so hard to keep up with the current Slashdot groupthink.

Somebody please let me know ASAP so I can post highly moderated comments. Thanks!

Um NVIDIA drivers have had this... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9160870)

when moving windows around. Would having a window always transparent be a natural extension from that?

Enlightenment (4, Insightful)

canolecaptain (410657) | more than 9 years ago | (#9160873)

I know that the enlightenment window manager had translucent windows in the late 90's. Anyone have a time stamped picture from way back then? Perhaps in the internet way back archives...

video games (1)

CrazyJim0 (324487) | more than 9 years ago | (#9160875)

Lineage 2
I think Dark Age of Camelot
Maybe Starwars Galaxies

Re:video games (1)

TGK (262438) | more than 9 years ago | (#9160975)

Starcraft's menu structure did this too, but I'm not sure if it was faked or not.

Also, you couldn't drag them, but they held transparency while moving.

At least, that's what I seem to recall.

Re:video games (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9161003)

I believe the first Comanche attack chopper and a Star Trek game, both released around the same time, were the first games to offer transparent windows with some degree of transparency. Comanche's windows could be controlled by the user.

Here's some past art. (2, Interesting)

boref (765647) | more than 9 years ago | (#9160878)

Its not that difficult to find past art...I can goto work and just use the job tracking application I've been writing off and on for the past year. Its setup to allow users to choose transparency levels in 10% increments from 100%-10%.

Prior Art, part 423423423423 (2, Informative)

Cytlid (95255) | more than 9 years ago | (#9160881)

http://home.insightbb.com/~ryanvm/tinyutilities/vi trite/

Vitrite allows you to do this with any Win32 Window (on 2k, XP, etc).

this should be a great flamewar (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9160884)

the open sores true believers versus the M.A.C. fanbois. May the biggest fruit win!!

Big fruit (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9160914)

I've got a pineapple with your name on it.

Hell, even _WINDOWS_ ha translucent windows (2, Informative)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 9 years ago | (#9160887)

Look, for example at MSDN: Layered windows [microsoft.com]

Well, this patent clearly has LOTS of prior art.

Re:Hell, even _WINDOWS_ ha translucent windows (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9160990)

The patent is NOT for translucent windows.

The patent is for the idea of making windows more translucent the longer their contents are unchanged.

Eventually, a window that is showing static data would show through almost entirely to what is underneath (such as your desktop), and when you clicked in that area, you'd be manipulating your desktop rather than the window.

Granted, the slashdot summary doesn't explain this, but hasn't anyone RTFA? Sheesh. :-)

Win2k/Enlightenment (0)

Moderator (189749) | more than 9 years ago | (#9160889)

I've been able to make windows transparent when dragged thanks to NVIDIA's nView software for years. Window transparency has been possible since Windows 2000, and I'm sure I remember dragging transparent windows around on Enlightenment maybe four years ago. Is Apple referring to transparent windows in general, or would the ability to make a window transparent while moving fall under this patent?

I'm also curious as to how Win2k's fade in menu effect is effected.

DirectFB? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9160891)

How about DirectFB? Didn't those guys have real transparency going before OSX was even released?

They applied for lots of such patents recently (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9160893)

See MacSlash [macslash.org] for more of them

(FTA) Patent Filed Originally in 1999 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9160896)

So excluding the past 5 years, was Apple really the first company to use translucent windows?

In the future you won't be able to write a decent operating system without infringing on 30 parents, since those patents will cover every possible detail. /waiting for the patent on double-clicking

Transparent windows (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9160903)

I have one on my desktop right now, i even took a screenshot and was going to post it untill i realized you cant see it, ITS TRANSPARENT!!!

Re:Transparent windows (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9160987)

Seriously, are you that retarded? Where does it mention anywhere "transparent" windows. Idiot.

A general question about patents (1)

davidescott (778917) | more than 9 years ago | (#9160912)

What constitutes prior art? Certainly there had been talk about making fully and truly translucent windows before OSX but for technical reasons not many people had attempted to implement such a thing. So the idea certainly isn't novel, although perhaps the implementation is.

Re:A general question about patents (1)

polyp2000 (444682) | more than 9 years ago | (#9160955)

Translucent windows have been around for ages, blimey, 4or5 yrs ago i was playing around with translucent terminals in enlightenment window manager. Although I'm sure it goes back further than that.

Jesus though when is all this patent crap going to be stopped?

This isnt about apple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9160920)

So, if you like apple or not is irrelevant. This simply is a further example of how dumb, useless and dangerouse software patens are. As if any more examples were needed to prove this point.

I just hope that this madness can still be prevented in Europe.

XP... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9160922)

XP has it, of course.

Winamp 5 comes to mind as a possible example of something that gets more translucent over time.

Is prior art needed? (1)

ScarletEmerald (717076) | more than 9 years ago | (#9160924)

Does prior art even need to be found to invalidate this? I thought blatantly obvious things couldn't be patented in the first place. This certainly seems like a pretty simple and obvious extension to me, especially if the other type of transparancy (a static snapshot of the background) already existed.

Not quite as obvious as it seems? (5, Informative)

LaserLyte (725803) | more than 9 years ago | (#9160932)

I only briefly skimmed the article, but it seems to me that this isn't as broad as it initially seems.

The translucency can be graduated so that, over time, if the window's contents remain unchanged, the window becomes more translucent. In addition to visual translucency, windows according to the present invention also have a manipulative translucent quality. Upon reaching a certain level of visual translucency, user input in the region of the window is interpreted as an operation on the underlying objects rather than the contents of the overlaying window.

So, the windows fade with time (if they are not used much), and the windows below are phased above the fading window... Rather than just plain old tinted windows.

I personally have never experienced anything like this, it sounds like it could be useful... or maybe I'm just behind the times :)

MOD PARENT UP (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9161010)

Yes, someone who RTFA!

For crying out loud, they are attempting to patent a very particular behavior of a window. One that I have NEVER seen used in an OS or app before, so I doubt you will find prior art specific enough to invalidate the patent.

This does do something interesting though... give people a peek into what is coming up in MacOS X 10.4

How about trillian? (1)

neosake (655724) | more than 9 years ago | (#9160938)

You can make trillian transparent to different degrees when it does or does not have focus
trillian [trillian.cc]

winamp 5 [winamp.com] does transparent windows too.

Prior art (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9160939)

  1. Enlightenment. Released and in production since 1997.
  2. MacOS X. To be valid, you have to patent it before you start selling it. It's a bit late to be applying for this patent.

Not quite (1)

davidescott (778917) | more than 9 years ago | (#9160943)

"Upon reaching a certain level of visual translucency, user input in the region of the window is interpreted as an operation on the underlying objects rather than the contents of the overlaying window." ie not eterm/aterm/any term since these always grabbed the input even if they were very translucent.

Thorn in M$ Side (1)

eroyce (698151) | more than 9 years ago | (#9160947)

Seeing as Microsoft has discussed adding this feature to Longhorn when it comes out in 2018, I'm guessing that they will help the patent office "wow, look what we found" find something to keep Apple from getting this patent. One of the few features still being included in Longhorn is their Aero/Aero Glass (sure sounds like a rip off of Quartz/Quartz Extreme) functionality.

Ok, all sarcasim aside, we shouldn't be allowing patents like this, however I would sure love to see M$ have to license part of Longhorn from Apple :)

A picture is worth a thousand words... (1)

Chief Typist (110285) | more than 9 years ago | (#9160949)

That's a lot of lawyer-ese for describing a translucent window -- something that you understand immediately when you see it.

Can you imagine the description for the Exposé patent application? :-)

It will be interesting to see if/how this affects the work Microsoft is doing on Aero in Longhorn (assuming the patent is even granted.)

-ch

RTFA !!! (2, Informative)

emmavl (202243) | more than 9 years ago | (#9160953)

It's not a patent for visual translucency, but 'manipulative' translucency :

If the contents of a window don't change for a preset amount of time the window becomes visualy translucent, but also all user input goes to the underlying (and now visible !) window ...

Why Prior Art may be more difficult then you think (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9160958)

(take from MacSlash.com comments)

"it's my understanding that apple has a powerful patent on the use of "alpha" channels. the claim is that alpha-channels were invented by the NeXT team back in 1988.

apple of course now owns NeXT, which may explain why they think they can beat the prior art.

K."

Is this a joke? (1)

Ben Escoto (446292) | more than 9 years ago | (#9160959)

The very concept may be a joke, but I'm referring to this line from the application:
[0043] Moreover, although the foregoing exemplary embodiments relate to the provision of graduated translucency in the direction of from opaque to translucent, those skilled in the art will appreciate that the graduated change in visual output can also be applied from translucent to opaque.
Or does someone at Apple really think that only someone "skilled in the art" would realize that if opaque->transparent is possible then so is transparent->opaque.

I guess before that insight all the windows gradually faded away and disappeared.

Did CowboyNeal RTFA???? (5, Informative)

Monx (742514) | more than 9 years ago | (#9160963)

Hey everybody, this is NOT a patent on translucent windows. It is a patent on fading windows. That's right, it covers windows that fade over time as their content remains static. Once their translucency reaches a certain point, they no longer receive focus from user input, instead it passes to the underlying UI elements.

Imagine if your console log was set to full screen, but behaved in this manner. As long as nothing is logged the window gradually fades out and you can use your other windows. As soon as something is logged it becomes more opaque and accepts user input again.

I suppose more people click on patent articles if they sound ridiculously easy to find prior art for or otherwise abusive, but this one actually sounds innovative.

here's what you're searching for (5, Informative)

pohl (872) | more than 9 years ago | (#9160966)

Everybody RTFP so that you know what you're actually hunting for. Finding a translucent window isn't quite enough...

Methods and systems for providing graphical user interfaces are described. overlaid, Information-bearing windows whose contents remain unchanged for a predetermined period of time become translucent. The translucency can be graduated so that, over time, if the window's contents remain unchanged, the window becomes more translucent. In addition to visual translucency, windows according to the present invention also have a manipulative translucent quality. Upon reaching a certain level of visual translucency, user input in the region of the window is interpreted as an operation on the underlying objects rather than the contents of the overlaying window.

Yes, software patents are evil...so lets do the right thing and not claim that every transparent xterm hack qualifies as 'prior art'.

Glass2k (0, Offtopic)

Perdo (151843) | more than 9 years ago | (#9160967)

http://www.chime.tv/products/glass2k.shtml

Prior art, cut-n-paste

Featured in a slashdot article

http://slashdot.org/articles/01/11/25/233238.sht ml

Novemer 26 2001

3 years Prior art.

Winamp (2, Insightful)

John.P.Jones (601028) | more than 9 years ago | (#9160971)

Winamp has had this for years.

Applying more and more sophistocated graphical rendering techniques to graphical user interfaces should not be patentable. The reason they weren't used twenty years ago isn't that NO ONE thought of it, its because of performance advances since then.

How unique is software in being incumbered by BOTH patents and copyright?

IANAL (1)

Neophytus (642863) | more than 9 years ago | (#9160977)

But isn't all that matters how early Apple had translucent windows? Rather than digging up every app under the sun from the last two/three years could someone find the first Apple produced piece of software capable of handling this.

Windows support for transparent windows (1)

zero-one (79216) | more than 9 years ago | (#9160982)

Any window on Windows 2000 or later can be transparent; see the documentation for SetLayeredWindowAttributes [microsoft.com]. It is a nice feature and some programs use it but it can be very slow.

Weird X (1, Offtopic)

james b (31361) | more than 9 years ago | (#9160984)

Weird X [slashdot.org] could do translucent windows back in 2000 - and this is real translucency, where 'covered' windows keep updating visibly, even through multiple layers of cover.

I actually ran this for a while, until it drove me crazy :).

YOU FAIL IT?! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9160986)

GNAA (GAY NIGGeR you have a p7ay NIGGER community Give other people

Been using it since about 1997 or so. (1)

Jammet (709764) | more than 9 years ago | (#9160988)

Atern as well. Even some hacked version of rxvt.

Re:Been using it since about 1997 or so. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9161004)

And those windows would get more and more translucent, the longer the contents remained unchanged, until eventually if you clicked in them you'd be working in the background, rather than the foreground window?

Because that is what Apple patented, not the idea of translucent windows...

Prior Art: Stardock Apps (1)

Prototerm (762512) | more than 9 years ago | (#9160994)

Stardock's GUI interface makeover applications (for Windows 98, 2000, and XP) have allowed various translucent window effects (like making a window translucent while dragging) for quite a while now, certainly before Apple filed the patent.

Didn't Amiga have this? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9160996)

But it has to be on a gay computer to count. Right? Amiga wasn't a gay computer.

Prior art on Sourceforge... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9161000)

At least for Windows, there's prior art [sourceforge.net]. The project dates at least one year ago, I'm not sure it supported translucency from the beginning, but it's there at least since 0.92 (for Win2k/XP, all the windows can be forced to have a configurable level of transparency). Disclaimer: not affiliated with the project, just a happy user... :)

Read the application. (4, Insightful)

Phanatic1a (413374) | more than 9 years ago | (#9161005)

This isn't simply "translucent windows." Hell, you can do that in WinXP and 2000 with third-party software. This is different:

"Information-bearing windows whose contents remain unchanged for a predetermined period of time become translucent. The translucency can be graduated so that, over time, if the window's contents remain unchanged, the window becomes more translucent. In addition to visual translucency, windows according to the present invention also have a manipulative translucent quality. Upon reaching a certain level of visual translucency, user input in the region of the window is interpreted as an operation on the underlying objects rather than the contents of the overlaying window."

If you're going to go looking for prior art, that's what you need to find: windows that become more translucent as more time passes where you're not doing anything to them, and that eventually become so translucent that when you go to click on them, you're instead able to click on desktop objects behind the window.

While I don't think that this is particularly deserving of a patent, it is neat, and so far as I can tell, novel. It's not just "translucent windows."

Cry, Bitch, Whine, Moan (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9161015)

They're talking about how the windows work at different levels of transparency...

On Mac OS X, once you make a window a certain level of transparency, you can click through it... you can't use the GUI. If it's pretty opaque, then you can see what is under it, and you can use the gui/widgets that are in the window...

At least that's what it sounds like they are saying, so...

Stop fucking bitching. 'Software Patents are Evil'. Come up with something and get your own patent. It's not Apples fault that your system is fucking broken- it's expensive to get a patent, and the patent office passes everything because they don't know better.

Stardock / Window Blinds (1)

Courageous (228506) | more than 9 years ago | (#9161017)


Brad Wardell of Galactic Civilizations fame has another product called Window Blinds. Window blinds has been doing this for years and years.

C//

HOW-TO: Deal with patents: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9161018)

1. Ignore them. Don't look for patents, or prior art or whatever
2. Release your code under GPL. Since you don't know of any patents, you are OK to release it
3. When and if anyone complains:
3a) You as an individual has made exactly 0 profit of it, and had in good faith not believed it to be patented. It's likely to be a slap on the wrist at most.
3b) Anyone else has gotten it in good faith from you. It'll be like a book publisher getting sued bcause an author infringed on another work. They'll have to stop infringing, but otherwise it'll probably be a slap on the wrist.
4) Just keep going as if software patents never existed.

Companies build patent portfolios to protect against patent lawsuits. The OSS community can't do that, what we need to do is to not give them any target worth pursuing. That Redhat distributed package X with code Y taken from project Z origianlly written by person A modified by person B shouldn't be much of a liability to Red Hat.

Kjella

Windows 2000+ (1)

0x20 (546659) | more than 9 years ago | (#9161019)

All versions of Windows since 2000 have supported them. They're known as Layered Windows and are manipulated through the SetLayeredWindowAttributes API.

For example, see this article. [ftponline.com]
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