PART 4: A WINDOW ON THE FUTURE
How GEM ought to be
The first graphical user interfaces were welcome changes from the character-based command-line systems that were common until the 1990s. But as intuitive as a window is as a bordered space for file and program activity, a window in itself is just a fancy box. Working within that box makes sense up to a point -- that point being the difficulty of accessing menus at another place on the screen just to manipulate the contents of a window.
That's the way Atari's GEM works, and how the Mac's desktop works, too. Under a single-tasking operating system, this limitation is perhaps too minor to worry about, but it becomes quite a liability under a multitasking system such as the Geneva-NeoDesk 4 combination. Each desktop window in such a system is potentially active even if it is not in the foreground, but working in separate windows becomes an exercise in eye-and-hand coordination if the only menus available are in a shared GEM menu bar at the top of the screen.
NeoDesk 4 removes that limitation in its enhanced GEM windows. Each one is a full GEM window, complete with menu bar and menus, instead of a box where file operations take place. You will notice that some menus in NeoDesk 4's windows are duplicated in the main menu bar, but many are not. This frees up the main menu for options and functions that pertain to NeoDesk's general operation.