Before you read further, see the ‘People’ Tile in the Sidebar in the above picture. It shows an AIM contact as well. Although this sort of practical Sidebar Tile or Gadget didn’t make it into Vista, Microsoft still has patented it.This Patent awarded to Microsoft on 7th October is all about the functionality of this Tile. Although it’s unclear how a Sidebar Tile would be used in the future by Microsoft as the Sidebar wont be there in Windows 7, but if this is implemented well, or even introduced in Vista, users would love it. The Patent description reads:
Methods, systems, and computer program products for tracking real-time communication data within a single contact tracking application for diverse communication providers and applications. A global data store is synchronized with real-time communication data, such as presence, status, unread messages, and unread notifications, from each application/provider. Real-time communication data for contacts dynamically determined to be recent contacts is retrieved from the data store, based on properties such as a most recent communication time, a communication count, and the like. Real-time communication data corresponding to contacts identified as pinned contacts for which display of real-time communication data is preferred, also may be retrieved. A user interface is generated for displaying the one or more recent and/or pinned contacts, which may vary in size based on the number of contacts identified as pinned contacts, from which a contact may be selected for real-time conversation or e-mail.
The Tile integrated IM, E-mail, Telephony and other services in one. And from the looks of it, this Tile isn’t designed for Microsoft only services, but open to every service out there. Which means you can just use this Tile to keep an eye on your Windows Live, Yahoo, AOL, Skype, Google and other contacts without opening a dozen chat clients. I hope this is implemented soon into a practical form for end users.
Here are a few more images to give you an idea of what the Tile looked like in Longhorn and its concept images.
Images Courtesy Paul Thurrott’s SuperSite for Windows