Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Canonical Ubuntu Linux’s parent company, has announced that Ubuntu will be adopting a radical new change to the interface that will do away with the “menu” in the Windows, Icons, Menus, Pointer (WIMP) interface, which has defined the desktop for the last thirty years. Shuttleworth states, “The menu has been a central part of the GUI since Xerox PARC invented ‘em in the 70?s. It’s the M in WIMP and has been there, essentially unchanged, for 30 years. We can do much better!” This new interface, which will first appear as a beta in April’s Ubuntu 12.04 release, is called Head-Up Display.
Head-Up Display, or HUD, which will ultimately replace menus in Unity applications. Here’s what you’ll see in 12.04 when you invoke the HUD from any standard Ubuntu app that supports the global menu:
Menus serve two purposes. They act as a standard way to invoke commands which are too infrequently used to warrant a dedicated piece of UI real-estate, like a toolbar button, and they serve as a map of the app’s functionality, almost like a table of contents that one can scan to get a feel for ‘what the app does’. It’s command invocation that we think can be improved upon, and that’s where we are focusing our design exploration. HUD seems to be very promising, lets wait and see.
For more information check out Mark Shuttleworth’s blog