Long Standing Annoyance… Application “Presence”

Here’s a term that long time computer users may not know, “Presence”. In a multi-tasking operating system like MS Windows or Mac OSX, the active or front most program (know as a “window” on all platforms) is said to have “Presence”. This means that keystrokes and mouse clicks are sent to this program/window.

What has always bugged me about “Presence” is the way the operating system handles it. As a power user I am often apt to start a new program while still typing into another. Even on a fast computer, some applications take several seconds to load. Knowing I will need a slow loading app in the near future, I will go ahead and start that app, then return to complete my pervious task while it loads. The annoying part is when the operating system suddenly gives “Presence” to the new loading application. The REALLY annoying thing happens if my previous app happens to be a word processor or text editor. For a moment when “Presence” shifts I am blinding sending keystrokes into the new application. This has on more than one occasion caused strange things to happen. I’m not quite sure why it happens, but some applications take “Presence” on opening while others do not.

Speed changing applications is one thing that while it annoys me, it’s narrowly my own fault. A very real design flaw is the pop-up error message that takes “Presence”. There have been many times that I have been happily pounding away at my keyboard and see the flash of a dialog box. But because my fingers are outrunning my head, I will hit a key that clears off the message before I have a chance to read it.

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