Digitally native user interfaces haven’t really worked out well for Microsoft and have not generated half as much love even for Apple as their old fake wood and leather user interface.
In fact, one of the most intriguing things about the cancelled Microsoft Courier was that it looked very easy to use, due too using a clean pen/paper/scrapbook style metaphor for its user interface.
Now a new patent for Microsoft’s dual-hinged device suggests these well-worn ideas may be making a comeback.
Titled “Navigational Aid for a Hinged Device via Semantic Abstraction” and applied for in January 2017, the patent suggests that documents may be processed to make them easy to navigate like a book, and also that sensors in the hinge could allow users to rife through the “pages” by partially closing the device, similar to partially closing a book to page rapidly.
The abstract reads:
“Techniques for navigational aid for a hinged device via semantic abstraction are described. Generally, the techniques described herein improve a user experience when the user is navigating through content, such as user-generated content in an electronic document. For example, the techniques described herein semantically abstract authored content in an electronic document to provide abstracted content. In implementations, abstracted content includes abstracted pages that each represent a different section of the authored content. When a user scans through an electronic document, rather than scanning page by page, techniques described herein instead navigate through displays of the abstracted pages. In addition, a hinge between different displays can be used as an input mechanism to control a speed of navigating through the abstracted pages to allow a user to more easily locate specific sections of the authored content.”
The Microsoft Surface-branded Telephone-enabled Device has been sent back to the drawing board, and the ideas patented in January 2017 may therefore in the end not show up if and when the device gets shipped eventually. I only hope someone is brave enough to give the minimalist designers a shove out the window and give users an operating system they can actually love.
The full patent can be seen here.