Microsoft officially launched Windows 8 in October 2012. The new OS was a major overhaul of their operating system which debuted with two distinct interfaces. The first UI simply covered their traditional Windows for PC styled work while their second UI covered touch-centric computing that began with their new Surface Tablets. The new UI would go on to serve other computers that offered touch displays such as desktops, smartphones and Ultrabooks. The key to their new Metro styled UI was in the creation of live tiles for launching apps that was designed to challenge Apple's static icons based UI. Today's patent report points you to three of Microsoft's original patent applications that finely details tile arrangements and grouping of tiles.
Microsoft's Patent for Arranging Tiles (The Metro User Interface)
Many conventional application-launching interfaces permit users to launch applications by selecting an icon or label associated with the application. These interfaces often include these icons or labels in a flat list, a file-based hierarchy, or grouped by page. If a user wishes to find and select an application, the user scrolls through the list, searches through levels within the hierarchy, or flips through the pages until the user finds the icon or label. This process can be tedious for users, especially if the interface has many applications from which to choose.
To address this tedium, some application-launching interfaces permit users to move these icons or labels within a flat list, a file-based hierarchy, or page-oriented groups. This can aid users, as often-used applications can be oriented at the top of the flat list, at a higher level of the hierarchy, or in the first or second page of the page-oriented groups.
Moving icons or labels within these application-launching interfaces, however, can be tedious and confusing. A user wishing to move an icon from a sixth page of icons, for example, may need to select the icon, select to move to a desired other page, once in that desired page drop the icon at the end of the page, move other icons in that desired page around manually to a desired arrangement within the page, and then go back to the sixth page to manually arrange the icons remaining in the sixth page.
Microsoft's invention is plainly about their new Windows 8 Metro User Interface that utilizes live tiles and more specifically about techniques for arranging tiles. These techniques enable users to better use their selection interfaces through simple and easy arranging of tiles within these interfaces. For application-launching interfaces, for example, the techniques permit users to arrange tiles within groups and across groups intuitively and with little effort. Not only can moving tiles be made easier by the techniques, the techniques may also automatically reflow the array of tiles into which, or from which, a tile is moved.
Microsoft's patent FIG. 2 noted below illustrates a flowchart of an example method for arranging tiles; FIG. 4 illustrates an example application-launching interface and the gesture moving the tile to a region of the interface.
In order to explore Microsoft's invention about arranging tiles in full, you should review all three of their patent applications that cover "arranging tiles" and "Grouping Selectable Tiles." The three patent applications can be found under numbers 20130057587, 20130057588 and 20130067412. Microsoft's patents were filed in Q3 and Q4 2011 and published in Q2 2013 by the US Patent and Trademark Office.
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