IE9 Site Pinning Madness

Internet Explorer 9 is the hottest thing in town at the moment and is generating a lot of good feedback from early adopters and users, but one of IE9 biggest features could result in potential madness in the coming months and years. The feature I’m referring to is Site Pinning.

IE9’s new Site Centric approach to application management is a very cool and innovative feature and Site Pinning to the Windows 7 Taskbar is also an awesome feature. However, I feel in the next few months and years, as more and more users and sites adopt the feature, we are going to be headed for an extremely clumsy Windows 7 Taskbar, and the neat and tidy Windows 7 UI could be defeated by a Microsoft’s own product.

The Current Situation

Way before IE9 came on the scene, I had my most used applications already Pinned to my task bar for quick execution. These include my development and productivity tools, browsers, instant messaging and a few others. So my task bar consists basically, of the following:

  • Windows Explorer
  • Windows Media Player
  • Internet Explorer 9 (currently)
  • Windows Sticky Notes
  • Microsoft Works Calendar
  • Opera Browser
  • Netbeans
  • Dreamweaver
  • Skype
  • Notepad2

These are the permanent residents on my taskbar. As the day progresses, I usually end up adding

  • Chrome
  • Firefox
  • Navicat
  • Remote  Desktop
  • Microsoft Word
  • Microsoft Excel
  • WinSCP
  • SQL Server
  • Oracle Virtual Box, just to name a few

By the end of the day I have close to 15 apps sitting on my taskbar, and the I tell you, I am no more productive than if they were not present.

Enter Site Pinning

After Internet Explorer 9 was released just this past Wednesday, three more resident additions were made to my task bar in order to test the new features being touted by the Site Centric IE9 design. These were

  • Facebook
  • Yahoo
  • WordPress

These work well and as expected, as advertised by Microsoft, but it got me thinking. I have already seen guys at my work place running 15+ resident (pinned) applications on their Task bar way before launching an temporary apps, and I am referring to just desktop applications which have been pinned. So what happens when people start to pin every website or service that they use on a regular basis to their Taskbar, along side all the current desktop applications they have running? This could serious result in some cluttering (and they say my desktop is a mess :))

I believe the web is the future of applications, but in the interim we still have many desktop applications that will be with us for a long time to come, and if IE9 does not provide some meaningful management for all these pinned apps, things could spiral into some form of madness and eventually make people much less productive than they ought to be (imagine I have Facebook pinned now, soon Youtube, and the list endless and these are all distractions from actual day jobs, unless those constitute your day job). Also, we have more websites that we can visit than desktops applications running on our systems, and to have all these potentially pinned to our taskbar because it makes them more desktop like can really be a show stopper.

One Other Thing

I was also hoping IE9 would have taken a better page out of the Opera Speed Dial / Safari Top Sites features and made the sites which appear when a new tab is opened actually have a picture of the site and not those minified Favicons. They are extremely hard to distinguish at first glance, and you must look at the text to be sure you are seeing what you actually want to see. I believe this should have rather been used as the Site Pinning center rather than the task bar (although that is cool too and could still be maintained). Having the Sites Pinned in the application might provide more options for management and features, but I guess Microsoft do not want to potentially have to fight a legal battle over “patented” features.

In Conclusion

I would just encourage people to be mindful of what they choose to pin to their task bars, because it might look fun at first, and potentially might have the ability to make you more productive in the short term, but in the long run, having many applications or open windows in one session would actually make you less productive.

Happy Pinning.