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A dock, a GUI feature available in some operating systems is shown here in GNUstep as the area with tiles on the right hand side of the screen.

A dock is a graphical user interface element that typically provides the user with a way of launching, switching between, and monitoring running programs or applications. Early implementations of the dock concept include the icon bar at the bottom of the screen in Acorn Computers's Arthur operating system in 1987 (predecessor of the RISC OS) and the dock at the right side of the screen in NeXT's NEXTSTEP operating system in 1986 (which lead to Apple Inc.'s Mac OS X). The Common Desktop Environment that Sun Microsystems and others introduced in 1993 uses a dock.

Other dock implementations are included in Apple's Newton OS in 1993 and iPhone OS in 2007, and a variety of third party applications are available that can add dock features to operating systems such as Microsoft Windows and Linux, though Mac OS X's has been the most commercially successful. The patent on Apple's desktop implementation was applied for in 1999, the year before the new Mac OS X interface was first publicly demonstrated, and granted in October 2008.[1]

Early beta versions of Be Inc's BeOS had an icon containing dock located on the left hand side of the screen, before they developed their own hybrid taskbar approach. The Xfce desktop environment and the Étoilé desktop environment are open source projects that provide docks inspired by CDE and OS X respectively.

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