So, being an interface designer, interface developments in the operating systems interest me; differences between the operating systems especially. One such difference is the maximize window behaviour.
On Windows, clicking the maximize button expands the current window to fill the entire screen (see above screenshots) and more importantly, locks the window so it’s immobile until un-maximized again.
On the Mac, on the other hand, there’s no real maximize window feature. Instead, clicking the “expand” button (the plus button) either expands the current window to fit the contents of the document, or expands to fill the entire screen (though not locking the window in place), depending on the application. Clicking the expand button again, makes the window jump back to the size it had prior to being expanded.
A feisty discussion made it clear just how much this difference in behaviour can divide the waters. On one side, you have the pro-choice people who like to be able to maximize a window and focus on that window alone. On the other side, you have those who either do not see a use for the maximize feature at all, or simply prefer the inability to be able to maximize citing improved “multi-tasking” as the primary benefit.
Personally I’m a fierce proponent of the maximize window feature. It allows me to hide my cluttered desktop, it allows maximum use of screen real-estate; it essentially allows me to choose when I want to focus on one thing and one thing only. I can still have multiple windows on one screen if I want to, but I have the extra ability to choose to focus on one app when I want to.
The recent beta of Windows Vista makes this maximize feature even more pronounced. The transparent “glass” interface that Windows Vista sports allows one to see through the chrome of individual windows, thus “lightening” the overall weight of windows (what a load of crap). When maximized, however, the transparent glass becomes opaque (as seen in the screenshots above), tinted in the system color of your choice.
While I think a glass interface in Vista is a big mistake, the “letterbox” feel of maximized windows will make the fullscreen difference between MacOSX and Windows even more pronounced. So, which side are you on, and why? To fullscreen, or not to fullscreen?