Programs stealing the input focus

Ok, this post is more of a rant. I’m one of those people that are a bit impatient when starting a program on my desktop. When I start up my Windows machine I click on several buttons in the “quicklaunch” bar to fire up what I’ll need to use – Outlook, R / SPSS /SAS, Winamp etc. So why do all sorts of dialogs pop up in my face while I am typing? Why does winamp have to pop up while I’m typing my email password? And why do they have to switch the input focus so that whatever I’ve happen to type now ends up in the wrong window? This is so annoying. Stealing the input focus is a known problem that has been written about countless times. It’s even against the GUI programming guidelines. “Do not steal the input focus” – what’s so difficult about that?

As a first consequence Norton Internet Security is now gone from my machine forever after it kept reminding me constantly – specifically with an uncanny accuracy when I was busy playing computer games – that I need to renew my anti-virus subscription or bad things will happen to my computer. And bad things did happen to my video game. But not anymore…

On the upside, there’s a carefully hidden option in the Windows XP Powertoys (TweakUI) that is supposed to prevent programs from stealing the input focus. It made things better, but doesn’t seem to work all the time.

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