In my usual search for patents earlier I came across one that shows what might be Windows 8’s drag-drop context menu capabilities. Today, I stumbled across a patent application from Microsoft showing a radial context menu like the one we’ve seen in the Courier’s promo videos, recently at MIX10 we saw a working demo of what looked like Courier’s operating system. Traditionally context menus have been rectangular in shape and the sizes of the options listed are fixed. One of the biggest problems in such a context menu is when using a touch interface. The idea behind the radial menu is to provide an alternative to this fixed size menu option problem. The patent proposes dynamically varying context menu selectable areas. The sizes of the options will depend on how frequently the options are used, needless to say, the more frequently used option gets a bigger slice of the pie.

The patent states the following:

  • a maximum limit of 70% of the total available space will be set for the menu options allowing sufficient place for the other entries.
  • selecting a particular menu option will display sub-menu options if available.
  • an option to ‘Expand’ the menu and show all available sub-menu options.


The patent shows a normal Windows OS window but I have a feeling that this will not be a part of Windows 8.

The image shows the option of a ‘Table’ appearing when ‘Insert’ is selected – the options that would present themselves when we hover over the arrow in a normal context menu.

According to the patent filing, Expand displays all the options that are available and not just show the frequently used one.

The only problem I see is that the other options will be smaller and thereby a tad bit difficult to initiate. Here is the relevant part of the Courier UI demo video clipped from the one posted by Engadget: