Why is focus stealing allowed RRS feed

  • Question

  • A quick internet search will show that Focus Stealing is deeply annoying to end-users.  There are certainly times when it makes sense for a window to pass focus to a child window -- when the child window is modal, for instance.  In general the parent window has full information about what the user is doing, and how the (child) pop-up window will fit into the end-users workflow.  If we assume the parent window is not acting maliciously (e.g. it's not a web browser pointed at, then end-user should be able to trust a well written program to enhance the end-user experience by making judicious use of child windows that take focus from the parent.

    Conversely, I can't think of a single reason why an end user would ever want a window to steal focus from a completely unrelated window.  As far as I can see, there's no way that allowing a program to steal focus from a window it has no information about does anything to enhance the end-user workflow.

    There are tricks that can be employed to suppress focus stealing, but none of them are easy for the end-user to configure.  Moreover, some of these tricks have been disabled by later versions of Windows.  This is baffling to me.  From my perspective, it looks like Microsoft is making an active decision to make focus stealing easier.

    I know you've got talented developers and architects working in Redmond, and I can't believe they'd let focus stealing persist as an end-user annoyance unless there was some good reason for it.  So my question is this:  Why are windows allowed to steal focus from unrelated windows?  I've tried to come up with a reason, and I'm at my wits end.

    Tuesday, November 8, 2016 7:16 PM

All replies

  • I believe it was around 2000 when MS said Focus Stealing would no longer occur. The problem is you cannot know for sure what the correct behaviour is. E.g. "Your nuclear reactor is going to explode unless you press the button now"...vs. "I'm about to press the don't explode button from Bert, accept or reject". I would prefer no stealing but I'm sure there are real cases where that would be wrong.

    Saturday, November 26, 2016 8:30 AM
  • please contact Microsoft.
    Friday, February 10, 2017 4:42 AM