All Windows 8 PCs Will Have 5-Fingered Touch
March 29, 2012 10:22 AM
Backwards compatibility with Windows 7 2-finger touch is also a key focus of Microsoft
Microsoft Corp. (
), the world's largest operating system maker, after hearing years of comments on how we are
living in a "post-PC" era
in which users are using their smartphones and tablets more than their PCs (supposedly) made one of the most ambitious moves in its history with its
upcoming Windows 8 operating system
. Microsoft decided to use touch to drive its interface.
I. Windows 8 Touch -- Not the Mayan Apocalypse (Though People Think it is)
Touch is a very threatening prospect to many users as they fear that Microsoft will under-deliver experience-wise for traditional mouse-and-keyboard systems. In a recent official Windows Team blog on touch progress, many of the comments were complaints griping about lacking experience for traditional non-touch input hardware.
Writes "pffft", "how about a more mouse friendly ui and you change the name from WINDOWS to WINDOW because you can only view one at a time.....that works really great."
Windows President Steven Sinofsky
thus far has dodged these questions. While he noticeably answered some other minor questions in the comments section, he refused to address the criticism surrounding non-touch hardware experience, thus far. But you can be he's listening.
This is the huge elephant in the room and it's hard to even
a discussion on Windows 8 touch without first putting it out there and putting things in perspective.
There are a few things, however, that everyone should keep in mind:
beta (Consumer Preview)
is meant to test emerging features.
Microsoft already has tried and true traditional input in Windows 7. While Windows 8 will likely be a bit faster for such systems and pack some nice improvements to the system utilities, the key new I/O feature is touch. So it makes sense that the Consumer Preview would fixate on touch.
Multi-touch + keyboard + mouse is the future of I/O.
The reaction to touch is similar to the reaction to the mouse in the 1980s, when most consumers most experienced them. Many users thought that you should only need a keyboard to control your system and were angered at OSs that were built around the mouse. The reaction to multi-touch is no different. While arguably the addition of touch to the already rich mouse/keyboard I/O atmosphere offers the best experience yet, users will be upset at Microsoft for "wasting" time on innovation. Someday when the next great I/O transitition comes along, these customers will likely be among the same to complain about "why can't we just make Windows work on good old-fashioned multi-touch devices". You can't stop progress.
Oh great, my Windows 8 screen will be covered in fingerprints....
Well, perhaps not -- displaymakers are increasingly moving towards oleophobic (oil resistant) displays, such as the display found in Apple, Inc.'s (
) recent iPhone model. While this won't prevent oil deposition, it makes smudge-free cleaning as simple as a swipe of a dry cloth (as the oil doesn't adhere to the surface).
II. Windows 8 Focuses on 2-Finger Touch
Touch debate aside, Microsoft's latest blog is all about touch. It outlines a fundamental gesture set, which is based on 2-finger gestures:
At first this may seem like a step back from Apple's iOS, which incorporates up to five fingers in its core UI gestures. But keep in mind that the majority of Apple's gestures use two-finger touch.
Those that do not (four/five finger swipe to switch apps, four/five finger pinch to go to home screen, four/five finger swipe up to open multi-tasking menu) largely are predicated on the lack of a taskbar. In Windows your taskbar (the classic multi-tasking menu) is always there; you're always on the homescreen. Thus switching apps is never more than two simple clicks away, which is arguably more intuitive that a complex multi-finger gesture, followed by a click.
Furthermore, Windows is designed for real work, thus the idea of using a multi-finger swipe up (essentially the equivalent of ALT+TAB) or a multi-finger swipe sideways (essentially the equivalent of WINDOWS+TAB) to switch between apps would be useless given the large number of apps currently open and the high degree of jumping between apps non-chronologically. It makes sense in a tablet world, though, so Microsoft might consider adopting it in the long run for that niche.
III. Windows 8 Working on Windows 7 Touch hardware
The 2-finger requirement also allows Microsoft's Windows 8 to work well on older Windows 7 touch hardware such as:
HP Elitebook 2760p convertible (Hewlett-Packard Comp. (
ASUS EP121 tablet (ASUSTek Computer Inc. (
Dell Inspiron Duo convertible (Dell, Inc. (
Lenovo x220t convertible (Lenovo Group, Ltd. (
3M M2256PW 22” display (3M Comp. (
Samsung Series 7 slate (Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (
Microsoft provides an interesting pie-chart that gives some idea about the relative rates of adoption of different kinds of touch devices in Windows 7 with respect to each other:
Interestingly, convertibles and all-in-ones dominate. This just goes to show either how poorly pure Windows 7 tablets have done, and/or shows how much of a demand there is for convertible tablets.
In the blog Microsoft explains that older Windows 7 touch hardware lacks the extra detection needed to distinguish edge-swipe gestures, a critical part of the Metro UI. In order to make them work it's added a 20 pixel "buffer" to the corners of the screen -- which will not be accessible to apps. On Windows 7 era tablets/laptops this could be a small but significant portion of the resolution, creating some unsightliness.
Otherwise, the key thing in using Windows 7 is to eliminate "jitter" -- gesture confusion arising from poor detection. Using some clever algorithms Microsoft was able to make the gestures reliable -- with an average success rate of between 80 and 100 percent, based on its collected statistics.
IV. The Road Ahead
Bear in mind that while Microsoft is only using 2-finger touch in its core functionality, in order to provide Windows 7 backwards compatibility, apps can use up to five-finger touch -- a requirement for new Windows 8 touch machines. Thus Windows 7 touch devices will be able to fully use Windows 8, but not necessarily all of its apps.
According to Windows 8's hardware requirements (see Digitizer entries), five-finger touch
is a requirement for all Windows 8 machines
. Microsoft currently lists
exceptions to this requirement.
So reportedly any new Windows machine will now come equipped with touch for better or worse. For more info on Microsoft's specific device requirements,
It will also pack a host of other improvements. Most importantly, it
blows Windows 7 away
in speed and performance tests.
Other perks include
a developer-friendly 20-80 Microsoft-developer split
for high-grossing apps,
less painful Windows Update process
decreased OS resource consumption
improved file transfers
streamlined upgrade process
for the initial installation, and switching to a primarily online sales distribution model.
Users will have to adapt to the mouse, just they adapted going from horse reins to steering wheel or from mouse to mouse+keyboard. Users may not like it, but Windows 8 is meant to touch.
Sources: Microsoft ,
"Nowadays you can buy a CPU cheaper than the CPU fan." -- Unnamed AMD executive
Windows 8 Bests Windows 7 in Most Performance Benchmarks
March 23, 2012, 9:30 AM
Nokia Designer: Yes We're Making a (Windows 8) Tablet
March 15, 2012, 3:26 PM
Ex-Microsofter Ray Ozzie Warns Microsoft: "We are in a "Post-PC' World'
March 8, 2012, 11:28 AM
Windows 8 Public "Consumer Preview" Beta is Live
February 29, 2012, 9:21 AM
Steve 2.0: Windows Chief Poised to Become Ballmer's Heir-Apparent
February 28, 2012, 2:41 PM
More Security Issues for Yahoo
February 16, 2017, 7:45 AM
Android Instant Tethering Only Works for Pixel and Nexus Handsets
February 13, 2017, 7:30 AM
WhatsUp with WhatsApp?
August 29, 2016, 5:23 AM
Fuchsia – Google’s New Open Source Operating System
August 17, 2016, 6:30 AM
Windows 10: End of an Era & A New Beginning
August 1, 2016, 9:59 AM
Free Windows 10 offer ends July 29th, 2016: 10 Reasons to Upgrade Immediately
July 22, 2016, 9:19 PM
Most Popular Articles
Are You in the Market for Earphones?
March 24, 2017, 7:35 AM
OnePlus 3T – 5.5” Optic AMOLED and Dash Charging Technology
March 23, 2017, 8:45 AM
Gigabyte GA-Z170X-Gaming G1 – Intel Thunderbolt 3 Certified Motherboard
March 9, 2017, 6:25 AM
Huawei P8 Lite 2017 – Android 7 Nougat Smartphone with Octa-Core Processor
March 8, 2017, 7:03 AM
Acer Swift 3 – Ultra Thin Laptop in an All-Aluminum Shell
March 25, 2017, 7:40 AM
Latest Blog Posts
Uber Technologies Inc Driverless Car hit by Human-driver
Mar 30, 2017, 8:00 AM
Android Creator and New Bezel-less Smartphone
Mar 29, 2017, 10:28 AM
More Apps From Google
Mar 28, 2017, 7:15 AM
Are you thinking of performance and speed? Intel claims:
Mar 25, 2017, 7:45 AM
Apple buys an automation app called Workflow. The deal was completed today and brings the app along with its developers.
Mar 23, 2017, 7:35 AM
Apple Announces new color for iPhones and iPads
Mar 22, 2017, 7:45 AM
Instagram: You Can Now Save Live Videos For Later
Mar 21, 2017, 7:49 AM
Samsung Galaxy S8 to Get New Color Scheme
Mar 20, 2017, 7:45 AM
What else to worry about?
Mar 17, 2017, 6:45 AM
Icon of the Day: Intel/ NVIDIA or Mobileye
Mar 16, 2017, 6:15 AM
JUST IN - Twitter Hijacked : High-Profile Account Accesses
Mar 15, 2017, 7:07 AM
Mar 14, 2017, 7:30 AM
News and Tips
Mar 13, 2017, 6:30 AM
iPhone 8 – May Not Get Curved Screen
Mar 11, 2017, 8:00 AM
California paves way to self-driving car tests without humans
Mar 11, 2017, 7:18 AM
Smart Machines V hackers
Mar 10, 2017, 7:00 AM
Uber Can Resume Autonomous Car Testing in California
Mar 9, 2017, 6:50 AM
Mar 8, 2017, 7:09 AM
Mar 7, 2017, 8:45 AM
World news 3-6
Mar 6, 2017, 5:40 AM
Mar 4, 2017, 7:40 AM
Mixed News of the Day
Mar 4, 2017, 6:32 AM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2017 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information