New details about Microsoft’s future plans for its mobile operating system may be revealed by a patent just granted to it.
The patent — number 20070240079, "Extensible, Filtered Lists for Mobile Device User Interface" — describes ways of making data from multiple applications available via lists, which can then be customized or filtered according to the user’s intent. This includes the ability to mix programs, files, and tasks or actions within a single list, allowing for the grouping of related or frequently used items.
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Included with the patent were several illustrations. It’s unclear how close these are to any implementation of the design, or whether they’re basic concept sketches.
Microsoft’s written summary of the design says, "Briefly described, the provided subject matter concerns an improved user interface for mobile devices such as smartphones, personal digital assistants (PDAs) and the like. Selected data and services provided by multiple software applications can be accessed through a group or list of items. Each group or list can include multiple items that provide access to data or tasks from multiple applications. For example, a list centered around a user’s current day can include items corresponding to meetings scheduled for that day using a calendar application, email received on that day through an email application, and a weather forecast for the day provided by a weather service application."
Is This Photon?
It is known that Microsoft’s next-generation mobile OS, commonly referred to by the rumored code-name "Photon," is expected to sport a significantly overhauled user interface when it debuts during the first half of next year. However, this upgrade has been so shrouded in secrecy that it seems unlikely Microsoft would reveal the main feature in such a simple manner.
Whether the images are representative or not, it seems highly likely that this patent is based on a customizable interface designed for the next-generation Windows Mobile OS.
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