Something kind of funny occurred to me today as I was reading Mark Pilgrim’s weblog. He mentioned that his girlfriend had a hard time keeping up with the fact that you could have applications running under the Mac OS that have no windows open at any given time. This must seem like bizarre behavior to people used to other operating systems, but this was an awesome feature back in the days when the Mac OS became capable of running multiple applications.
Back then, applications opened even more slowly than they do today. When you used applications like Pagemaker or Photoshop, starting them up initially took forever. Fortunately, you could just close all the windows but leave the applications open as long as you had enough RAM (don’t get me started on virtual memory on the Mac back then). It was a real time saver to just leave all of your applications open all day, and then switch to them and open a document when you needed them. These days, of course, it seems bizarre because applications (for the most part) open quickly enough that such a feature is no longer needed, and more importantly, Windows just doesn’t work that way, so people have been trained differently.
Anyway, what I find interesting, in a “things come full circle” kind of way, is that Mozilla features a “Quick Launch” feature that basically turns Windows into a Mac. When you start up Mozilla, it stays in memory even if you close all of its windows. That way you don’t have to re-launch it every time you want to use it, you can just click on the icon and a new instance of the already running application will appear. It’s kind of an interesting hack, and should seem quite familiar to grizzled Mac users.