All my interactions with non-technical users point towards the same thing, and quite boldly – task based desktop. Most of them are not worried about the application being used nor about what is involved in invoking it. In fact, I know some people who consider it to be a lot of effort to not only start an application, but even to remember doing so. They use the computer to carry out certain tasks – writing letters, reports, emails, chat, …, and that is what the interface should let them do.
Of course this is still all talk in the air, but here are some on-the-fly thoughts I had:
- The interface should show tasks and actions, instead of applications. Perhaps the interface should be application agnostic?
- It should show the more recent tasks instead of recent documents.
- The desktop should offer easy and intuitive ways of working with these tasks, like scheduling them or tracking them.
- The desktop can perhaps play a the role of a hub for communication (asynchronous?) between applications. The current use of desktop as a folder is under-using a potential broker of information.
Of course this approach will have its own cons, but I it is worth considering while thinking of next-generation desktop environments. I have been successful in simulating some of the above points, and those users have given a positive feedback. However, it will be great if a desktop environment has this inbuilt. What do you think?