Pin-it! Applifying your site for Windows 7

I just saw an interesting presentation from Juhani Vuorio / Microsoft at Drupal Business DaysHe described the design philosophy of the new Internet Explorer 9 and some of it's new features. The one that caught my eye in particular is the possibility to pin your site to Windows 7 taskbar.

As a disclaimer, I'm not a Windows OS fan in particular. I have a Mac both at work and home and before I could afford one, I was a long term Linux user. Still, Windows exists out there, and there are cases where it's the preferred OS - most of the major companies use it so the developers can't really ignore it.

Wider adoption of HTML5 is going to increase the amount of web applications even more. Slowly they will replace even more applications we now use as standalone, desktop applications. The pinning means that you can add a web site to your taskbar and use it as if it were a "regular" desktop app. The web site can interract with the user using a simple Javascript API. The ways of notifying the user are adding an overlay to the taskbar icon (for example a number of received messages) or the traditional blinking for attention.

The feature is simple enough to enable. Web page is made pinnable by adding a bunch of meta tags in the head section of the webpage. There's also a jQuery plugin available which simplifies the process a lot.

I've tested the jQuery plugin here at mkoh.net. It's not that obvious that the site is pinnable - there is no indication of it, but if you're running Windows 7, you can drag the favicon to the taskbar and admire the wonders of technology :)

There's a context menu available if you right-click the pinned icon. The plugin is configured to generate quick links from the main navigation to populate the menu.

Here's a link to the Microsoft's tutorial website. I strongly encourage visiting the site and playing around with the features as they might come handy in the future. The place where I expect to be using a feature like this, would be in building internal tools for customers, where the OS enviroment is pretty much locked down. Of course, since it's so easy to add to a existing site, why not actually reward IE fans for having the latest version of the browser ;)