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Microsoft Patents Grouped Taskbar Buttons

CowboyNeal posted more than 10 years ago | from the thought-of-that-before dept.

Patents 714

I_am_Rambi writes "According to the US Patent office, patent #6,756,999 belongs to Microsoft. The patent this time is grouping taskbar icons processes. This is included in Windows XP, and some prior art in X. Looks like it was accepted two days ago."

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FUCK YOU! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9588254)

n/t

Re:FUCK YOU! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9588391)

Thank you, I am a smelly, unwashed /.er. Nobody else has ever offered to fuck me before...

Another one for the EFF to bust. (5, Interesting)

Anononnyous Covvard (592743) | more than 10 years ago | (#9588256)

Was the prior art in X prior to Windows XP's release and/or wide beta?

Re:Another one for the EFF to bust. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9588321)

I recall it being in a very early GNOME panel. I wouldn't be suprised if KDE had it as well.

Re:Another one for the EFF to bust. (4, Insightful)

Meor (711208) | more than 10 years ago | (#9588351)

Then retrieve the old source with the date in it and hang on to it. That's your 2 cent solution to destroying a 3000$ MS patent if they ever try to charge someone.

Re:Another one for the EFF to bust. (2, Insightful)

lightknight (213164) | more than 10 years ago | (#9588364)

Does it matter? I mean, really, does it matter?

TaskBar Grouping and Auto-Hide are the first to go, when working on someone's laptop. They are useless, and not terribly important.

Secondly, who wants to go challenge such a useless patent in court? I mean, principles aside, if someone did, we would be able to use it in {window manager}. Great, TaskBar Grouping, someone please kill me.

Security, Speed, User-friendliness. Basic GUI programming. These are all that count.

Annoying, stupid *features* like animated dogs and taskbar grouping which slow productivity and piss off users do not make the cut.

Re:Another one for the EFF to bust. (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9588421)

I guess I'm going to GNU/Hell, but I like taskbar grouping. It's sort of like MDI for the taskbar. That, and it hides my hamstersex.com taskbar entries among the work-related browsing, all without the tell-tale "auto-hide."

Re:Another one for the EFF to bust. (1)

Kjuib (584451) | more than 10 years ago | (#9588387)

Unless you count grouping similar windows on different task bars on different linux desktops. If that counts than I have been doing it for years.

*sigh* Here we go again... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9588258)


Cue the "We need to abolish the patent system" posts and just get it over with...

Re:*sigh* Here we go again... (5, Funny)

ScriptMonkey (660975) | more than 10 years ago | (#9588323)

Don't worry, I patented posting about abolishing the patent system. Anyone making covered posts will be sent a bill to cover licensing costs.

Wow.. (3, Funny)

faldore (221970) | more than 10 years ago | (#9588259)

I think M$ should pantent mouse clicking. After all, they invented it.

Re:Wow.. (1)

tremaali (725772) | more than 10 years ago | (#9588363)

that's wrong - apple had a gui with mouse support earlier but i think there was atari or so which had mice even before apple...

Re:Wow.. (1)

cavebear42 (734821) | more than 10 years ago | (#9588381)

note that it was modded funny

Re:Wow.. (3, Informative)

cavebear42 (734821) | more than 10 years ago | (#9588365)

they did pantent it [slashdot.org]

Re:Wow.. (3, Funny)

System.out.println() (755533) | more than 10 years ago | (#9588368)

We should award them a pantent for the spell checker as well.

Re:Wow.. (5, Funny)

suso (153703) | more than 10 years ago | (#9588373)

They should also patent rebooting.

Re:Wow.. (1)

Abjifyicious (696433) | more than 10 years ago | (#9588430)

They should also patent rebooting.

Why would they bother though? It's not like anybody else's products really need that kind of feature nowadays anyway...

Re:Wow.. (1)

yobbo (324595) | more than 10 years ago | (#9588429)

I sure as hell hope they didn't patent Sitting Down, because I just did that :S

First! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9588262)

Whooooooo hooooooooo!!!

w00t (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9588263)

w00t

OK, so MS has had this since winXP... (1)

Atrax (249401) | more than 10 years ago | (#9588264)

... how long has this been present in other windowing systems?

Re:OK, so MS has had this since winXP... (0, Flamebait)

Stevyn (691306) | more than 10 years ago | (#9588277)

Seriously, how long? I've only seen this in windows XP. I never used it because i didn't like it, but it may just be legitimate. Gasp!!!

Re:OK, so MS has had this since winXP... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9588289)

I was using this on my 25MHz 486, that's how fucking old it is.

Re:OK, so MS has had this since winXP... (1)

Atrax (249401) | more than 10 years ago | (#9588294)

KDE has it, but since when?

Need to fire up a VPC so I can check what else I have with this in. I don't recall it before the XP-era, but hey, I wouldn't...

Re:OK, so MS has had this since winXP... (3, Informative)

weierophinney (410749) | more than 10 years ago | (#9588338)

I've seen it in Win98SE and W2K, in both cases with Symantec Enterprise (for grouping various Norton utilities, like AV, Ghost, etc.). First I saw it was last fall, however.

I'm typically a Linux user, though I use neither GNOME nor KDE, and didn't start using a system tray until this past fall with xfwm4 and the xfce taskbar -- and none of the apps I've used need any grouping.

The patent application dates to 2001; it may possible be valid.

Re:OK, so MS has had this since winXP... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9588350)

Didn't the BlackBox window manager have a feature to group windows of the same type?

Re:OK, so MS has had this since winXP... (1)

boarder8925 (714555) | more than 10 years ago | (#9588310)

Well ... [slashdot.org]

Re:OK, so MS has had this since winXP... (4, Informative)

ewhac (5844) | more than 10 years ago | (#9588369)

BeOS. Since 1998, and probably much earlier.

Schwab

that darn MSFT! (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9588265)

First electricity through our skin, now this, what next, patenting the act of breathing air?

Re:that darn MSFT! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9588359)

I already have a patent on the act of breathing air... You all owe me royalties!!

Re:that darn MSFT! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9588410)

Oh shit, I am a poor college student... I have no way to pay you. Guess I'll have to stop brea..asdfjklsaj;dfsfvz.vsadf...fvaf

Uh okay (4, Insightful)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 10 years ago | (#9588266)

Microsoft (as well as any other corp out there) patents everything they can. The real headline should be "USPO grants Patent to MS for $DUH_GUIFEATURE". That's who your pitchforks should be pointed at unless you'd like to point them at IBM, Apple, Palm, Sun....

BeOS had that in 1999 (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9588269)

THERE IS prior art.

BeOS' Tracker had that in 1999 before anyone else. All windows/instances from the same application are showing grouped in the BeOS Deskbar, under the same sub-menu.

Re:BeOS had that in 1999 (4, Interesting)

SoTuA (683507) | more than 10 years ago | (#9588330)

It seems like the "new" twist in WinXP is that the grouping happens only when there is no more room left in the taskbar, and when there's room again it ungroups.

Wich is a behaviour that makes it really annoying, because you have to switch your mind-gears between "searching among open windows for the useful window" and "search for the app icon and then navigate to the useful window". I'd rather have "grouping always" or "grouping never", the latter being what you get when you disable the grouping 'feature'.

Re:BeOS had that in 1999 (2, Informative)

Wordplay (54438) | more than 10 years ago | (#9588385)

Install the Tweak UI Powertoy. You get a "Group when N or more windows" option. Setting it to 2 gives you always. As you mention, the option to disable it entirely is in the standard taskbar preferences dialog.

Re:BeOS had that in 1999 (-1, Flamebait)

Pieroxy (222434) | more than 10 years ago | (#9588389)

You know another amazing feature in windows XP? Right click on the task bar. A nice thing called a popup menu pops up and in here you have "Properties". Ever tried to click there? I don't really recall about "grouping always", but "grouping never" is definitely there.

I've got prior art.. (2, Funny)

oliverthered (187439) | more than 10 years ago | (#9588436)

My bed room,
Every since I was a young child (25 odd years ago), i've been scattering things on the floor, and then when there's too many things I tity them up into groups, only to be scattered again when I have more space, ore some of them have been put away properly.

When I worked in a resturant we used to group meal tickets when there wasn't enough space on the 'task bar'

Re:BeOS had that in 1999 (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9588341)

Watch out! Next time they are going to patent tabbed web-browsers.

Patented Taskbar Grouping? (1, Insightful)

SoTuA (683507) | more than 10 years ago | (#9588271)

Bill and Steve are welcome to it.

Grouping in the taskbar has to be one of the most annoying "Features" ever seen in a taskbar.

I second that opinion. (1)

NarrMaster (760073) | more than 10 years ago | (#9588307)

Yes, annoying as hell.

Re:Patented Taskbar Grouping? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9588315)

Grouping in the taskbar has to be one of the most annoying "Features" ever seen in a taskbar.

I disagree. The annoying part about it is that it's not predictable. Depending on how many instances I have open of any given application, they may or may not be grouped.

The XP PowerToys [microsoft.com] allow you to set the minumum number of items before they're grouped to 2. That way, any given app always takes the same amount of space on the toolbar, as long as at least one instance is running. I think that's a great UI improvement.
Patentable? Not sure.

Re:Patented Taskbar Grouping? (1)

SoTuA (683507) | more than 10 years ago | (#9588354)

I disagree. The annoying part about it is that it's not predictable. Depending on how many instances I have open of any given application, they may or may not be grouped.

Yes! I must rephrase, THAT is what is annoying as hell. It bugs me because it makes the UI behave in a non-predictable way, wich in turn makes you lose your concentration as you have to switch your mental gears to whatever way the UI is acting now.

Grouping by itself is not annoying, that damned "sometimes" behaviour is not.

Re:Patented Taskbar Grouping? (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 10 years ago | (#9588366)

That reminds me of the Mac OS X dock - if you [right|ctrl|hold]-click on a program's icon, a menu pops out with a list of all the program's windows, as well as "show in finder" "hide" and "quit"

Re:Patented Taskbar Grouping? (1)

spir0 (319821) | more than 10 years ago | (#9588394)

or you could get a mouse with more than one button and click the right mouse button. :)

Re:Patented Taskbar Grouping? (1)

casuist99 (263701) | more than 10 years ago | (#9588328)

I completely agree. Why not just use tabbed interfaces for individual programs? The taskbar was designed to allow easy access to each running application. When all it says is "Mozilla Firefox 9", that's not useful to me. Also, any ordering of programs in the taskbar that I may have DELIBERATELY set up disappears. Does anyone know if it can be turned off? I know it's more an annoyance than a feature.

Tabs inside programs allow me to bring the program I want to the front and then to find the right tab inside it. If MS can't get it right and allow lots of user customization, at least Mozilla has it right.

Re:Patented Taskbar Grouping? (1)

the_2nd_coming (444906) | more than 10 years ago | (#9588337)

I guess you have never right clicked on the taskbar have you.

Re:Patented Taskbar Grouping? (5, Insightful)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 10 years ago | (#9588335)

"Grouping in the taskbar has to be one of the most annoying "Features" ever seen in a taskbar."

It is? Funny, I've found it quite useful when having tons of windows open. Is my personal opinion insightful, too?

Re:Patented Taskbar Grouping? (2, Insightful)

SoTuA (683507) | more than 10 years ago | (#9588402)

It is? Funny, I've found it quite useful when having tons of windows open.

Well, it annoys me to no end. But that's just me. I hate UI inconsistency. You have found it useful when you have "tons of windows open". How useful is when it _just starts_ grouping? Say it has one or two groups of two windows? Not much, I'd say. Anyway, since mozilla got tabbed browsing I rarely have half a ton of windows open. Just a couple of mozillas with a quarter ton tabs each ;)

Is my personal opinion insightful, too?

Why yes, of course! Plenty of mod points for everyone... ;)

Re:Patented Taskbar Grouping? (5, Funny)

OblongPlatypus (233746) | more than 10 years ago | (#9588413)

Apparently it is.

Which makes me wonder.. is this comment funny?

Re:Patented Taskbar Grouping? (1)

Kris_J (10111) | more than 10 years ago | (#9588424)

It would be if I had any mod points.

Karma Whore (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9588431)

Don't be a Karma Whore. Post AC. SCORE: -1 Troll. Does this mean I'm a bad troll or a good troll?

Re:Patented Taskbar Grouping? (1)

myLobster (528056) | more than 10 years ago | (#9588409)

I have to disagree. Taskbar grouping is v. useful when running certain apps, for example the GIMP or Mathematica in KDE. I'd rather have a single group of associated tasks than several separate tasks which invariably get truncated. But hey that's the beauty of Linux. One man's pineapple is another man's mustard.

Re:Patented Taskbar Grouping? (1)

Icekold (572802) | more than 10 years ago | (#9588432)

I agree, it's annoying as hell.

If only for the simple reason that I cannot instantly glance down to the bottom of the screen and spot which process I wish to access next and I am forced to having to click the mouse button an extra time, certainly makes me less productive.

A Plea to Americans (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9588272)

Get your politicans to sort it out.

This is getting really silly.

Re:A Plea to Americans (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9588352)

Yup.

Not exactly the same (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9588276)

It seems the big difference is in the 'time threshold' part:

"The system organizes like application files and clusters the corresponding taskbar buttons and, upon reaching a threshold limit, creates and displays a group button that contains the like application files and removes the like taskbar buttons from the taskbar. Further, upon reaching a second threshold limit, the system ungroups the application taskbar buttons, displays them on the taskbar and removes the group button from the taskbar."

Big difference? Probably not, but enough for it to be 'new'...

Time? (1)

gumpish (682245) | more than 10 years ago | (#9588353)

I don't see any mention of time in your snippet. Sounds more like the thresholds involved are how many open windows there are for the app.

Re:Not exactly the same (2, Informative)

fireman sam (662213) | more than 10 years ago | (#9588358)

Nowhere does it mention time based threshold. The threshold in question could be "more than ten windows open". The second could be "less than ten windows open". Nothing to do with time at all.

Microsoft Can't Patent the Internet Though... (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9588278)

Everyone knows Al Gore invented that. ;-)

Question regarding patent law (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9588283)

Microsoft Patents a function common to multiple desktops which has been used for several years. Can they now sue any vendor who implements that function in the future ? how about current implementations?

Re:Question regarding patent law (1)

jtev (133871) | more than 10 years ago | (#9588317)

Sure they can, and then the judge will hear about the prior art, take a look at the filing date on the patent, and throw the case out.

GNOME did this before Microsoft... (3, Interesting)

eamacnaghten (695001) | more than 10 years ago | (#9588287)

GNOME did this before Microsoft did I seem to recall. The date of the Patent Application is 2001 - I do not know if GNOME did this then. I am surprised if the concept was not published prior to Microsoft's application though.

Re:GNOME did this before Microsoft... (1)

sharkb8 (723587) | more than 10 years ago | (#9588325)

Actually, Microsoft filed a provisional patent apoplicaiton in april 2000.

If you can find documented prior art before this you may be able to get it revoked. (35 USC 102.a & 102.e)
Even better, if you can find a patent application from more than 1 year before april 2000, you have your killer prior art.(35 USC 102.b)

Re:GNOME did this before Microsoft... (2, Informative)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 10 years ago | (#9588348)

This is a continuation of a provisional application filed in April 2000. Not sure what the invention date is, but is certainly earlier.

Prior art has to beat the invention date which is probably no later than 1999 in this case, possibly earlier.

Patent this! (2, Interesting)

HarveyBirdman (627248) | more than 10 years ago | (#9588291)

Yeah, well, somewhere are patents concerning Sarin gas, the Tacoma Narrows bridge and the Edsel.

Re:Patent this! (1)

dstillz (704959) | more than 10 years ago | (#9588400)

No there aren't. They've long since expired.

This is silly... (4, Insightful)

WIAKywbfatw (307557) | more than 10 years ago | (#9588292)

You can patent putting similar tools together? Like cut, copy and paste in any application? Or backwards and forwards in a web browser? How about +, -, * and / in a calculator?

What next? Ford applying for and getting a patent on the side-by-side arrangement of foot pedals in a car? Or the standard gear-stick arrangement? How about patenting putting the speedometer and revmeter next to each other? Or the fuel, water and temperature gauges within a certain distance of one another.

The USPTO is crazy. I swear they'd let you patent the colour of the sky if you paid your processing fee.

Re:This is silly... (1)

r.jimenezz (737542) | more than 10 years ago | (#9588388)

You can patent putting similar tools together? Like cut, copy and paste in any application? Or backwards and forwards in a web browser? How about +, -, * and / in a calculator?

Sorry, your assumption regarding what is TFA about turns out to be wrong :) It's about the annoying taskbar feature that shows e.g. one icon for all your FireFox windows.

Prior Art - Human Language (1)

yintercept (517362) | more than 10 years ago | (#9588296)

I wonder if you can claim as prior art the languages that have words for "one", "two" and the word "many".

Prior Art (4, Informative)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 10 years ago | (#9588298)

While there is probably prior art for this, you have to realize that the issue date in not what determines if the prior art is relevant. It is the invention date or original filing date, which in this case was back in April 2000.

Additional patents (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9588299)

For the BSOD and rebooting a computer will be announced shortly...

prior art in X (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9588301)

I guess theres always prior art in an independant variable.

But seriously, what?

Stuff to manipulate taskbars... (4, Interesting)

blamblamblam (610567) | more than 10 years ago | (#9588302)

So if they're going to patent this crap, why don't they do something truly novel and innovative and let me rearrange the processes on my taskbar so that they're not arranged in a completely useless order (ie the order in which I opened them, earliest to latest). And maybe let me arbitrarily reduce some processes to systray icons instead of huge frickin rectangles.

I just know someone's going to tell me you can do it in Window Manager XYZ, and if I'd just googled it, I'd know that. But if not, then I could actually celebrate that I had an original idea for once and go eat a steak dinner. Or maybe I should just go eat steak anyways.

Here's the truly sad part (4, Insightful)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 10 years ago | (#9588304)

Look at how freaking many people they claim it took to come up with the idea of "grouping similar shit together".

Stoakley; Richard W. (Seattle, WA); Kurtz; James B. (Bellevue, WA); Springfield; James F. (Woodinville, WA); Green; Todd J. (Seattle, WA); Andrew; Suzan M. (Seattle, WA); Mann; Justin (Lake Forest, WA)

Kinda lets you know where your $300 bucks [compusa.com] that they charge for Windows XP goes.

BTW, my grandpa had the same idea when he'd keep his roofing nails in one coffee can, and his finish nails in another coffee can. I wonder if I can get a patent for that.

Method and system for clustering and grouping construction nails...

dollars bucks? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9588340)

Kinda lets you know where your $300 bucks that they charge for Windows XP goes.

Your bucks cost you three hundred dollars? I wasn't aware that XP would cost you three hundred dollars bucks. $300 I could believe, but not $300 bucks.

submit patent anonymously? (2, Funny)

Low Key (125213) | more than 10 years ago | (#9588308)

If my name was on this patent, I would be embarrassed.

I suppose it's time? (4, Interesting)

peacefinder (469349) | more than 10 years ago | (#9588309)

I suppose it's time for some civil disobedience.

When it came to civil rights, people had to be willing to go to jail, willing to pack the prisons, to bring decency to the law.

Now, perhaps, it's time to be willing to go to civil court to bring sanity to the law. Maybe it's time to simply ignore patents on which there is known prior art. It's certainly not going to be an easy decision to make, to risk lengthy and expensive court proceedings. But maybe letting the owners of ridiculous patents stuff the courts with enforcement cases is an appropriate way to prod Congress to action.

Re:I suppose it's time? (1)

isbhod (556556) | more than 10 years ago | (#9588440)

unfortunately companyies have made so much money that the cost of these lawsuit are now factored in as part of "Cost of doing business" and it will nto effect them except to serve as free publicity. Damned if you do and Damned if you don't that's the how Corporate America is gonna get ya.

Re:I suppose it's time? (1)

taniwha (70410) | more than 10 years ago | (#9588452)

I think you're right - and it fits in well with the open source way of doing stuff ... certainly credit in your code "this bright idea originally came from XYZ" (insert prior art here) ... not only does this reclaim that bright idea from the past for the public domain but it's also gives notice to any M$ lawyer that you've got prior art and they'll have to deal with it should they want to raise a stink

I was talking to some people about the issues in and around patents the other day and someone suggested that an although rather odious and alternate strategy might to be to build a 'gnu patent pool' held in trust purely for defensive reasons - enough patents in enough areas to discourage lawyer's attacks on open source code .... try and sue any of us and we'll counter ... the big problem is that patents are expensive and we have no one to bankroll such a pool

Re:I suppose it's time? (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 10 years ago | (#9588455)

The trouble is with civil rights the worst that could happen is jail time. This time we're risking total financial ruin.

Seriously, you can't fight, because even if you have a rock-solid case, the other side will just appeal until you can't continue, because you've run out of money.

Wave file of the patent award details (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9588318)

Nice grouping! [ladyofthecake.com]

Ok the way I see it (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9588339)

Either the patent office is going to have to suddenly get its head bashed in by the Clue Stick. Or we are all fucked. Proper fucked. Like the rabbit in Snatch.

on the subjected of retarded patents... (2, Insightful)

spacerodent (790183) | more than 10 years ago | (#9588343)

I keep waiting for a company to try to patent the idea of a front facing computer. I mean really with all the shit that they patent you think that they'd patent "the idea of putting things in the front"

They are welcome to it! (3, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 10 years ago | (#9588346)

The is the FIRST feature I turn off on any XP computer I encounter. I cannot think of a single more annoying feature than hiding all of the windows I really have under one thing, where I have to spend an inordinate amount of time reaching the icon, waiting for the list to appear, then hunting through the list.

Re:They are welcome to it! (1)

System.out.println() (755533) | more than 10 years ago | (#9588398)

Same, except for anything under 1024x768.

It's not funny any more.... (4, Funny)

TastyWords (640141) | more than 10 years ago | (#9588360)

...one of my .sigs used to say, "One day, we'll find Microsoft has patented the alphabet and we'll find ourselves paying royalties every time we sit down at the keyboard."

Now I'm waiting to see if it's a prophesy.

This isn't obvious (3, Insightful)

thedillybar (677116) | more than 10 years ago | (#9588362)

This is not obvious stuff. If there is prior art, then there is reason to bitch. I haven't seen proof of such, and I don't think everyone should be jumping on the "I hate Microsoft" bandwagon until they see prior art.

Sure it may seem obvious now...but the first time you saw it, you probably said "oh, that's weird". Even if you had thought of it years before, not everyone did. And they still had a right to patent it since you didn't, and you didn't implement it.

Yeah (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9588446)

The first time I saw it I said "What the hell?"

The 100th time I saw it, I still said "What the hell?"

I really, really, really hate that "feature." It's a dumb idea which doesn't make good UI sense. Well, unless you don't have multiple workspaces. But that's no excuse for windows xp users, because you can use TweakUI to add multiple workspaces.

Re:This isn't obvious (1)

sploxx (622853) | more than 10 years ago | (#9588451)

Nope.
A patent should cover a reasonable amount of invention.

It is another questions if patents should be granted at all. I'm not so sure nowadays.

And this has nothing to do with hating microsoft. IBM, which is certainly loved by 90% of all linux user, patented (and probably) patents similar things. The patent that covers order of the keyboard LEDs comes to mind... though that might also be an urban legend.
In any case, there are no good or bad companies, if it looks profitable for them, they'll patent things.

grouped buttons.... eeks.... (2, Informative)

zlel (736107) | more than 10 years ago | (#9588374)

I don't know about you guys, but that's one thing I always disable when I sit down at a fresh terminal... it's just too troublesome to have to click through it that way to get to the window I'm looking for - I think the OSX task bar makes so much more sense.... make it real tiny, but make it magnifiy a lot and a lot when my mouse moves over - no idea why the default settings don't present it that way...

anyway, what i do when i have too many things on my task bar is to move it to the right instead of leaving it at the bottom - in that way i can squeeze more buttons in and still read some of the text.

Prior Art (2, Interesting)

Yojimbo-San (131431) | more than 10 years ago | (#9588379)

My KDE taskbar does exactly what the patent describes ...

When I have only three or four Eterms open, they're buttoned separately, when I have a dozen, they're collapsed into the same button, with a dropdown for individual access.

Re:Before 1999 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9588397)

Did KDE do it before 1999 though. Since it is impossible to prove obviousness, it requires prior art before 1999. Oh, and you better hope that MS doesn't get your prior art thrown out on a technicality even if it is valid, which is why you need to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on lawyers even if you are right.

Re:Prior Art (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9588448)

KDE sure as hell didn't have this in 2001.
Maybe you should look up the definition of "prior art" again.

I'm going to patent a patent... (2, Funny)

bobjohnson (574277) | more than 10 years ago | (#9588396)

on patenting a patent that describes patenting a patent that has been patented by patenting a patent. Don't cry prior art either, because I've patented the patent on patenting a pantent on patenting a patent of refusing claims prior art, and I'll sue you!

USPTO and time elapsed between filing and granting (2, Insightful)

r.jimenezz (737542) | more than 10 years ago | (#9588407)

I am not certain whether there is prior art regarding this issue (I couldn't care less for this feature, but that's not the point). What worries me is that it took well over 3 years to grant this patent, and if said prior art exists it wasn't found. And this is a relatively trivial invention.

Maybe the USPTO simply does not 'scale' anymore? What is the average time to get a patent approved, and does this play a significant role in the current state of affairs?

In this case I should patent... (1)

tekspot (531917) | more than 10 years ago | (#9588426)

the process of breathing air, and charge everyone $699 for rights to use my IP!!!

Good (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9588427)

Maybe now no one will use this "feature." I cannot write words which adequately express the hatred I feel for this concept of grouping tasks into one place with a submenu. I want one-click access to minimized apps. If there are too many in my workspace... Guess what! I go into another workspace!

It makes sense (Well, a Windows kind of sense) for Windows to have this because by default it doesn't have workspaces (yet), though that's in TweakUI I heard. They can keep their grouped tasks, I will give it up heartily.

Some options (1, Insightful)

BCW2 (168187) | more than 10 years ago | (#9588437)

1. who cares?
2. Educate the people in the patent office.
3. Nuke the patent office.
4. Nuke Redmond.
5. Bend over and take it.

Ok now, 3 and 4 will get you charged with terrorism, not good. 5 is never good. 1 is what the majority will say. 2 is a great idea, but we are talking about Govt. employees, if they were really trainable they might have areal job.

I guess it's hopeless.

Why do we need it anyway.. (1)

balzi (244602) | more than 10 years ago | (#9588438)

My KDE apps most used are Konqueror and Konsole.

Why have grouped processes when a single Konsole gives me a as many active screens as I need (granted some people may need to see ALL at once) and Konqueror gives me tabbed browsing..

in my world, grouped icons are unnecessary.

At this rate... (1)

Gorffy (763399) | more than 10 years ago | (#9588454)

the Us patent office will allow a porn com[any to patent the idea of sex. Maybe a church will get patent on the bible. Hey, I think I'll apply for a patent on moving the mouse to the left.
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