Ribbon Toolbar Interface

Microsoft is trying to file a patent for their Ribbon interface element that groups toolbars into a tabbed interface. There is some prior art for this, and MS shouldn't get the patent. Homesite had this, and Bluefish copied it. I wrote a small web app that also used tabs -- there was a difference, because I had a tab per project, and that established a context for the links within the tab -- but the visual appearance indicates that the tab establishes a working context, and that clicking on items under the tab will operate within that context.

Other related things:

In GIMP, choosing a tool will cause the tool's options to appear in the lower pane of it's toolbar menu. While this tab can be moved around, the default positioning causes a click on the tool to reveal contextual options and actions.

The Adobe "tabs" interface for palettes uses tabs to switch between panels of buttons. They also implement a feature similar to GIMP, except the options appear across the top of the window.

Some windowing systems (GTK, Motif, Windowmaker, NeXT Step) allow a menu to be "torn off" and "pinned" to the screen, creating a toolbar out of a menu.