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Extending Your Brand to the Desktop with Windows 7

Mar 18, 2009 By Tim Sneath

What is Windows 7 doing at a web conference like MIX09? I thought I’d pop along to the above titled session, in which Yochay Kiriaty, an irrepressible evangelist on my team, presented the case for a desktop application in an increasingly web-orientated world.

He talked about how local desktop applications remain just as relevant as ever in the world of the web. For example, even though Twitter is often portrayed as the doyen of the Web 2.0 world, there are over 560 applications that use the Twitter API, spreading across client and mobile devices. Similarly, many other web properties such as Netflix, New York Times, eBay and Windows Live, have great desktop experiences that add value to the core experience.

Yochay demonstrated a number of potential entry points in Windows 7 for a website that might want to supplement their browser-based offering with a “sticky” branded desktop experience.

Gadgets. In Windows 7, gadgets go beyond the sidebar: they can be hosted anywhere on the desktop. This makes it easier for gadgets to size a little larger than the default setting in Windows Vista,allowing for a richer data visualization and/or more information to be presented.

Jump Lists. Windows 7 allows taskbar-resident applications to easily promote a series of tasks. For example,Windows Live Messenger uses this facility to make it easy to quickly set up a chat or web camera conversation without having to navigate through the full application interface.

Search Connectors. Windows 7 enables you to integrate search of a site like Flickr directly into the shell itself, using a standards-based model for search integration called OpenSearch. An application like Word that uses the standard file dialogs in Windows can then insert images without ever needing to go to the website directly. Long Zheng has a good example for download along with screenshots of this approach.

IE8 Visual Search. Continuing on the same theme, it turns out (!) that the visual search feature built into IE8 uses the same OpenSearch-based model for providing search results. With just a single line addition, any IE8 visual search can automatically support the Search Connector model. If you’re interested in more information, Sébastien Zimmermann has a good blog post on the topic.

It’s clear that there’s increasing convergence between the web and the desktop. Beyond the search features above, the inclusion of multi-touch and gesture support in Silverlight 3 demonstrates how the lines are blurring. It’s going to get easier and easier to build applications that run great on the web but do even more when they can take advantage of the full power of Windows. It’s an exciting time!

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4 comments so far. You should leave one, too.

Ian said on Mar 18, 2009

Thanks for the updates, will the sessions be posted to as in previous years?

Tim Sneath said on Mar 18, 2009


Ken said on Mar 19, 2009

I am very excited about windows 7. My hope however is that the fax function which was taken out of home vista premium will be in the comparable edition of Windows 7

raffaeu said on Mar 21, 2009

I really appreciate what Microsoft is doing with Windows 7 and I really hope this will give back more trust from the users.
We migrate our PCs to Vista and the pain was to explain to the users that Vista doesn''t suck.