As I’m sure many of our readers are aware of by now, my preferred OS happens to be Linux, not Windows, despite using the latter for almost all of our performance-related testing. My preferred desktop choice is KDE, for various reasons I won’t tackle here. As you may recall, I posted an editorial a couple of months ago that took a look at KDE 4.3, and in the end, I was impressed. I literally hated KDE 4.x up to that point, so the changes were stark.
With KDE 4.4’s release set for this coming February, there are many reports around the Web of what the latest version is going to include. The version number change is minor, but the changes are usually major, with some new features, revamped applications, refreshed back-end libraries, and so forth. I’ve been following 4.4 reports for the past week, and I have to say, I’m really, really looking forward to its release. There’s some good stuff there, to say the least.
One feature in particular that stands out are tabbed applications. Yes, that sounds boring, because tabbed anything isn’t too new, and anyone using a recent Web browser (hopefully, all of you) know just how useful tabbed browsing can be. But what about tabbed applications? We’re talking beyond a single application here. What if you could essentially tab different applications together, for ultra-quick access to each one?
I’ll attempt at better explaining this with an example. Imagine you’re doing some design work for your website. You could take the photo manipulator, let’s say Photoshop, your HTML editor, Dreamweaver, your Web browser, Firefox, and perhaps some other tool, and combine them all into a single tabbed window, so switching between them could be made much easier, and rather than have a bunch of applications open in your task bar, you’d clear up some room by keeping them in tabs.
Apparently, this idea isn’t new, and some lesser-known Linux window managers have included this feature for a while, but this is the first I’ve heard of such a feature in one of the biggest environments out there. The feature is still rather unique, and with tabbed browsing being as popular as it is, I have to wonder if this is the next step for tabbed computing. What do you guys think? Would you ever take advantage of tabbed applications, given the choice?
However, one big obstacle in front of the widespread aceptance of tabbed windows is virtual desktops. Most of the Linux DEs supports virtual desktops and people usually use it to organise their open windows based of their purpose. Virtual Desktops are very unlikely to go out of favour. So, if tabbed windows is to be accepted widely, it has to exit side by side with virtual desktop. In the absence of virtual desktops (like in Windows), however, tabbed windows will certainly a killer functionality.