Microsoft shows off multitasking WP7, looks a lot like webOS [déjà vu] | webOS Nation

Microsoft shows off multitasking WP7, looks a lot like webOS [déjà vu] 68

by Derek Kessler Mon, 14 Feb 2011 12:25 pm EST

You know how sometimes a user interface element is so good it just becomes a standard? Like the mouse cursor from the original Macintosh, or the grid of icons from Palm OS, or the steering wheel (over the tiller). It looks like the multitasking cards metaphor from webOS is trending that way. First the BlackBerry Playbook blatantly appropriated the UI elements of cards (including swiping up to card view and tossing away over the top), though they seem to have missed some marks when it comes to effective multitasking.

Now it’s Microsoft’s turn, with an impending update to their Windows Phone 7 mobile OS receiving the webOS multitasking treatment. Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 Vice President Joe Belfiore got on stage at Mobile World Congress today in Barcelona to demo the update, and it’s not what we expected from Microsoft today. Yes, we expected multitasking in Windows Phone 7, but not quite like this. As you may recall, Microsoft requires all Windows Phone 7 devices to have three buttons: back, Start, and search. The back button behaves generally like the same button on Android devices, but with the update to Windows Phone 7 you’ll now be able to press and hold the back button to open a view of your running apps.

As you’ve likely gathered from the tone of this post, it looks an awful lot like webOS. You get a live view of your running apps, presented as a horizontally scrolling series of cards. Sounds familiar, eh? Microsoft did at least choose to innovate in their choice to manage background music playback; you hit the volume buttons to have a mini-controller drop down from the top of the screen.

To editorialize a bit, we’re actually kind of disappointed. Microsoft turned the smartphone user interface on its ear with Windows Phone 7, and it works. Being the nerds that we are, we’re fans of Microsoft’s “Metro” user interface, and this choice of multitasking metaphor just doesn’t fit. Then again, perhaps Palm hit metaphorical steering wheel with webOS, and it only makes sense (unless your name is Apple and you like tillers).

UPDATE: We've gotten clarification that Microsoft actually isn't doing live multitasking. They're going the Apple iOS route and doing it with a mix of APIs that will allow fast saving and relaunching of apps, plus backgrounding for specific tasks. Windows Phone 7 will go a bit further than iOS, however in that their background tasks will allow more than just music playback: apps will also be allowed to periodically udpate in the background (such as you may want a Twitter or news app to do).


BS. Microsoft really can't come up with something original?

Let's be fair here.

The card view is a pretty obvious way of doing multitasking due to it's elegance. In fact Microsoft kinda incorporated it into Windows 7 (you can... I think windows key + tab and get previews of and flip through the different apps you have open).

That said, I'm surprised so few manufacturers didn't steal this idea already (though Blackberry and Microsoft are obviously starting to see the light). It's clearly the best way to handle multitasking on phones. The preview isn't as necessary on a PC with a huge monitor but it's very useful on a phone.

If it was so obvious, why did it take Palm to show everyone that it works? Why didn't iOS and Android support it out of the box? Why didn't WinPhone7 and Blackberry support it out of the box?

You do realize that this "unique" to webOS view was done by, yes, iOS before webOS was ever previewed, right? Safari on the original iPhone (demonstrated in January of 2007) uses this card method. palm just took it to the next logical step.

Then the "card" visualization model itself was there much earlier than Safari as well, and it goes back to several Flash photo gallery tools in the '90s, and even to the sci-fi film industry (see Minority report [2002] and the like...).

The innovation was to use this visualization model *for multitasking*. And that's undoubtedly Palm's innovation.

it doesn't matter. Rim's doing the same thing. Everyone's playing palm's best features before Palm/HP can do it and they'll succeed. By the time Palm releases all their updates, it will all be old news for the public.

It's not that RIM, et. al are playing WebOS's best features before HP can do it. WebOS has been out for a while. The problem has been that Palm wasn't able to get developers to care because of their slowness w/ the APIs and their moronic marketing campaign. If Palm had bothered to get all their ducks in a row, WebOS might be where Android is now.

HP needs to take the initiative and start releasing apps yesterday. The recent contest was a good start, but they need to have monetized incentives daily or weekly to get the ball rolling. That's the only way I can see them breaking the chicken-or-egg problem of lack of both developers and users. If they bribe the developers to make more apps, maybe the users will start to come.

Really? Metro UI isnt original?


i love how people who have never heard of webos are simply amazed by the blackberry playbook and now probably ms multitasking capabilities... it just goes to show that the ball was dropped as far as getting the word out on how great webos was 2 years ago. HP im counting on you to inform the masses of what they've been missing out on for years before it's too late.

Just wait until they show you gestures on their Playbook and you have none on your TouchPad. :-(

I'm glad the touchpad doesnt have gestures... I could see myself accidently doing something just by holding it which is why they probably didnt incorporate it.

Uh oh. WP7 is looking more and more attractive to me. Here's to hoping a new webOS device hits Sprint because WP7 is the only other platform that interests me, and if Sprint doesn't get love from HP (which I still think they will), I may have a new game to play.

all I know is I would get a windows phone if I can't get a pre 3 on sprint this summer!! For me is the only other choise, because I don't like android!!

I ponder on this... but then again, I may not be the only one...

I am kind of not surprised or mad or just perplexed... I am seeing this repeat again... remember when Windows regularly copy (stole) Macintosh UI and included in their versions?

it was so regular that you could almost predict the next version OS from Windows... just by looking at the latest mayor OS released from Apple..

How shameless have they (Microsoft) become? no innovations just pure copy and paste... from others who have...

how numb have we (consumers) become that it is ok to steal conceptual property from others?

I just hate to see the pattern again and how it may affect WebOS in the future... I hope for good..


"How shameless have they (Microsoft) become? no innovations just pure copy and paste... from others who have..."

Ironically, Windows Phone 7 still can't do copy/paste.

It will get copy and paste in March the same time it gets multitasking, twitter integration, ie9 and some sort of kinect.

Copy paste is for march, Multitasking is a SECOND update for sometime in 2011.

Wow, they *did* copy the iPhone...! :-P

you mean like how the whole world is copying the iphone?

You mean like how the iPhone copied Palm??

I really like webOS, but, can you tell me how Apple copied palm?

go back to the 90s and you'll see.

Admittedly, apple did pinch and zoom first on a phone. if you get really pedantic, everyone's copied everyone. it's the degrees to which it's done that matter.

i was gonna go there. by not having c&p in initial release. rofl

"how numb have we (consumers) become that it is ok to steal conceptual property from others?"

To look at it from another perspective, "How entitled have we (as a sociery) become that we view mere concepts and ideas as property to keep from others?"

The fact is, patents were never initially intended to cover ideas. They were meant to cover actual designs. Using today's patent mentality, there would only be one car company because the concept of a gasoline engine would have been patented instead of a specific design. Extending this to software, stealing Palm's code is certainly wrong. However, integrating an elegant idea into their own environment, using their own code, and making it work with their own back-end OS is not theft. It's called competition. Take an existing idea and improve it. That's how the advancement of technology works. Certainly you wouldn't say that the world would be better off if no one else had adopted the mouse as a stardard HID.

Great response!

The problem with your analysis is that the WP7 UI copies the design of WebOS. The only thing I see that's missing is the live nature of the cards and the rounded edges.

it actually copies alt-tab and safari mobile both of which predate webos.

So the whole Windows Phone 7 UI and style are copy cat right?

Relax EVERY company uses other ideas in products. YOu can't harp on things that were copied with out mentioned the great ideas that were original ideas.

[sarcasm mode]No MS didn't look at webOS they inherited this from the Nokia deal and their MeeGo OS[/sarcasm mode]

That's really the best they could come up with? Oh well, it is Microsoft - they are known for buying or stealing great ideas and marketing them properly!

Everyone is making it easy to leave WebOS by copying the UI and and HP is making it harder to stay by not releasing devices sooner!!

Not trying to be a troll, but it's looking more and more like wp7 is the platform I'll be jumping ship to, unless HP can get some better hardware coming. I'll stick with my pixi for a little while longer but if I don't see any signs of more choices other than just "small" and "medium" I think the writing's on the wall and it's time to evacuate.

This is webOS main Trump card and everyone's taking it, soon there will be no need to go hp/webOS. Wp7 will get this in March well before hp launches its devices... this is what happens when your slow to the market. What's next tap to share?

WebOS's main trump card is NOT just the multitasking that makes it easier to switch but also to "kill" an app. Switching has been copied but not killing (by MS) and I believe ability to kill running apps is more important in the long run based on my experience with android.

Playbook has copied both along with live cards AND it is going to come out in April so ...

wouldn't it be a kick in the pants if RIM and MS has these products to market before the HP stuff comes out? It'd look like HP was ripping off MS and RIM instead of the other way around!

+1 That's what going to happen!

HP, please speed up your release schedule!

I'm sure they will, but first round is inevitable. They are rushing their butts to the market. Unfortunately, the same scenarios are happening like with the original Pre. Hopefully, HP's channels will offset that.

I'm not all for suing someone every time something looks like something else, but multitasking like this was one of the few things that made webOS stand out. Maybe it
s time that the people at HP/Palm stop joking about this and start taking it seriously.

Come on folks, "ALT-TAB" has been around since 1990, which is a... Microsoft invention.

Card view flipping is a smartphone version of that key sequence. Vista's version is even closer to cards and easily pre-dates WebOS.

Creatively speaking, there's not a lot of difference between stealing a good idea and buying it. Just because one buys a good idea from someone, doesn't mean he or she has the vision and innovation to develop it or apply it further.

If this was still the group of people that came up with the original ideas,I would feel more loyal. But I see this whole thing more like a rich guy bought the life's work of a starving artist, and then basically murdered the artist in an alley, and started parading the ideas as his own.

I know that's harsh and maybe uncalled for, but after seeing that cheezy ad campaign my confidence in the future of webOS is severely shaken.

I'm definitely open to seeking innovation elsewhere, and there seem to more and more places to look.

All phones will get this sooner or later. Its just the way it should be done. If webOS had the app support of Android it would kill all the competition.

here we go... First that gesture app switcher for Android, now WP7... All them getting their sh1t together b4 "global company full of resources" is able to release "interesting devices that Palm (allegedly) already had in the pipeline", you only wait for "the coming months",dear customer.

That is nothing short of pathetic. WebOS gen. next is dead on arrival, there will be nothing to differentiate it from the competition,that already has huge grip within customers & developers.

bye bye, it was a great OS, sadly let down by the pathetic hardware & management decisions.

"(unless your name is Apple and you like tillers)."

That is perhaps the best turn of a phrase I have read on a tech blog ever. Well written article Derek (and a perfect use of analogies throughout).


They are just showing cards and previews - the apps arent really running actively.

Its like running the old TealOS on a palm Treo 650.

What WOULD be good is if HP allowed the user to decide on whether mutitasking allows apps to run and save the state (using more power) or to just do a screen grab of the apps' state for the card and restart it when it is re-opened (what MS is doing).

One COULD save lots of battery life, that way.


But Palm did tell the makers of Tealos to cease and desist! I'm anxious to see if HP will do the same now that everyone is so similar to their design.

I have to say that I am truly disappointed too. I wanted to be loyal to HP, but if MS implementation of wbeOS is better than HP's, then I'm moving on as well. The only reason I looked past WP7 was because I'm spoiled by webOS and WP7 couldn't multitask. I must agree that the demo of the Touchpad in this video was just fucked up! I'm insulted! The problem with HP and the Touchpad is not HP. This problem of being slow to market while utilizing underwhelming software/hardware mating is all PALM. It's Palm that sucks and if HP didn't need Palm's intellectual capital, they should drop them in a heartbeat. But, they do need them to keep webOS viable! Afterall, they purchased those sorry MF's for $2 billion! HP had better take over Palm's shit and fast, because with the excetion of webOS Palm hasn't got anything right in a long time going back to before the Centro!!

Trust this though, there is no way HP will continue with webOS if they can only continue to muster 3% market share! Are you kidding me? You have an OS that everyone else is looking to copy in some way, shape, or form and the owners of that OS aren't even able to capitalize on it. That's disgustingly pitiful and preposterous. I'd be outraged with the Palm entity for being so slow to move id I were Apotheker or whoever is in charge! Heads would be rolling starting with J Ruby himself!!!

I'm glad to see the UI moving gthis direction for these platforms. If webOS goes the way of the earth (Please God, don't let it be so!) then we all have a choice to make. For me, at this point, I'd probably go the Apple route becuase i REALLY don't like Android. However, I have played with Windows Phone 7 a bit and like it quite well. The only thing it doesn't have is an elegant multi-tasking solution. So, the above picture actually is relieving. It's sooooo much better than Apple's cheeseball answer. At least you can see what's actually on the "card". So if webOS dies, and Microsoft makes this clean, I know where I'm going.

And what's up with everybody dogging on Microsoft all the time, anyway. I think Windows XP was a great OS. Yes, Vista sucked balls and Microsoft responded with 7, which markedly better. They have a complex problem making an OS that will work with hardware created in someone's garage or mass produced by a conglomerate. And I think they've performed admirably. And the Xbox is awesome. If they can do with Windows phone what they did with XBox, they could hit it out of the park.

One thing though! by all means, give it a better name. If they would have named the XBox the Windows game system, or the Microft game box, it would have failed miserably. There is a lot in a name, and nameing their OS Windows phone is soooooo lame!!

"They're going the Apple iOS route and doing it with a mix of APIs that will allow fast saving and relaunching of apps, plus backgrounding for specific tasks."

Isn't this the description of the way PalmOS used to function circa 2003?

There is not such thing as Multi tasking

Symmetric multi-processing?

Meanwhile, HP continues to sit around waiting until the summer, while everyone else will have used up all their unique features by then, giving webOS no compelling reason to attract new users.

It would help if HP could tell me what they are doing with the 2.0 update or get me into some kind of 'new' phone before MS releases their first WP7 update... I passed on WP7 to get this Pre with its 'upcoming' update. Sure would like to feel good about my decision.

I'm excited for this, especially with some Nokia-made hardware!

they think because they have synergy they believe they'll still be in the competition. pretty soon some platform will soak that up too. googles with there new ui engineer from palm has already has introduce obtrusive notification to android with honey-comb.

they may as well start putting it on all other devices, there are no decent webos devices out and available to run 2.0 and whatever is to come next. no one is gonna buy the pre 2 on verizon while there are so many better options...the legion of loyalists here are entirely to blind to the fact that HP is never going to produce top flight hardware and continue to screw its consumers

vamos hp/palm tenemos que ponernos las pilas porque sino los chasfas de wp7 y rim nos jnoderan a todos los que vimos una inovacion en palm pre.

Sweet! Card view was my favorite part of WebOS, All I Have to do is wait for a nice dual core windows phone 7 device to come out on verizon and I'm set.

I think a better multitasking implementation would have been a task view similar to live tiles on the homescreen, where each task showed up as a grid of squares that slide up from the bottom, and the inside each square is a live view of the app, and have the grid scroll to the left similar to other views within WP7 hubs.


so hp/palm are becoming progressively less relevant! the BB Playbook is what the PalmPad should have been in the first place.

yeah, you know what, so be it let webos fail! those morons at hp/palm deserve it. serves them right too. no im not pissed at MS or RIM, Im mad a palm/hp for being sooo clueless and incompetent.

***how about an amendment?... "in the coming monthes... AFTER everyone else implements OUR ideas"

do you know how much difference the "live" multitasking vs "paused" makes to an average joe consumer??? answer... 0 !!!

and after all this the hp dont even have a gesture area on the touchpad, while the playbook does! WTH???


Oh com'on guys.
Being copied is a good thing after all.. :p

The important is that HP (PALM!) keeps being innovative, being a model for others to copy. It takes years to be recognized as innovation leader, and we can just hope this goes on.

(read: HP bring back gestures!! Don't kill Palm's innovation and differentiation just to make it more easily compliant with tablets! keep investing energies in creating new user experiences!)

doesn't the iPhone double tap on their button open up a card view? Or maybe it's the browser that has different pages as cards. I'd go check for myself but I don't want to get that smell on my hands again.

No matter what article I read and I've probably read them all. The comments all prove the same. Gotta have it NOW and BETTER. I remembered a joke I once heard and decided to post it here. Of course it could get posted in any article comment section.

The Husband Store

A brand new store has just opened in New York City that sells Husbands. When women go to choose a husband, they have to follow the instructions at the entrance:

"You may visit this store ONLY ONCE! There are 6 floors and the value of the products increase as you ascend the flights. You may choose any item from a particular floor or may choose to go up to the next floor, but you CANNOT go back down except to exit the building!"

So, a woman goes to the Husband Store to find a husband.

The 1st floor sign reads: Floor 1 - These men have jobs.

The 2nd floor sign reads: Floor 2 - These men Have Jobs and Love Kids.

The 3rd floor sign reads: Floor 3 - These men Have Jobs, Love Kids and are extremely good looking.

"Wow," she thinks, but feels compelled to keep going.

She goes to the 4th floor and The sign reads: Floor 4 - These men Have Jobs, Love Kids, are Drop-dead Good Looking and Help with Housework.

"Oh, mercy me!" she exclaims, "I can hardly stand it!" Still, she goes to the 5th floor and The sign reads: Floor 5 - These men Have Jobs, Love Kids, are Drop-dead Gorgeous, help with Housework and Have A Strong Romantic Streak.

She is so tempted to stay, but she goes to the 6th floor and the sign reads:

Floor 6 - You are visitor 31,456,012 to this floor. There are no men on this floor. This floor exists solely as proof that women are impossible to please. Thank you for shopping at the Husband Store.
Anyway, Go HP! I'm loving what your doing, I'm hooked on WebOS from day one and that's that.

I said this recently Nokia already has something like the cards, now WP7, Android has an application that functions nearly the same, and Blackberries web browser kind of functions the same. Overall each Phone has a way of multitasking and now several have a card-like approach.

The one nice advantage of the WebOS is being met by competitors and yet Palm/HP are yet to introduce shared applications that exist on other mobile providers to compete across the board. It will never make sense their removing the Palm Brand name and all they need was a few major developers and an overall small business investment. Now HP is erasing some of the elegance, and adding more function but really the only question we want answered is are they going to really try to compete?

Do they plan on placing constellation applications for education, cook books, movie rentals, preference and option features, and really become a company that meets demands as quick as the others?

Dvorak wrote at PC Mag the WP7/Nokia partnership seals the demise of WebOS. I sure hope not.
I guess Microsoft, Apple and now Android have their followers, and we Palmites had nowhere to go. Maybe HP can resurrect it?

frustrated legions join my "Rally against HP's demolition of WebOS group!" and talk about your distaste for their handling of Palm since the acquisition!!/home.php?sk=group_126742097397362&ap=1