All Windows 8 PCs Will Have 5-Fingered Touch
March 29, 2012 10:22 AM
comment(s) - last by
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 ,
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
Windows 7 Forever by Taurus229 on March 29, 2012
3/29/2012 5:22:15 PM
My Windows 7 taskbar gets me where I,m going in less steps than Windows 8. Windows 7 is much more intuitive than Windows 8, and I don't know about you, but I loaded Windows 8, started to use it, when I was ready to shut down, it was not obvious, just not user friendly. Windows 7 Forever! The last Operating System I will buy from Microsoft. BTW , Microsoft will be losing it's bread & butter, corporate won't be using this silly gimmick, they won't give up Windows 7.
RE: Windows 7 Forever by Taurus229 on March 29, 2012
3/29/2012 5:29:08 PM
This is why there is still such a large number of people holding on to XP, for simplistic reasons. What takes 2-3 clicks in XP can at times take twice as many in Vista/7.
RE: Windows 7 Forever by Taurus229 on March 29, 2012
3/30/2012 7:10:19 AM
Can you post some example?
RE: Windows 7 Forever by Taurus229 on March 29, 2012
4/2/2012 9:55:34 AM
Lots of things which require administrator access. The newer OSes have the UAC that asks you to give the program administrator access.
"You can bet that Sony built a long-term business plan about being successful in Japan and that business plan is crumbling." -- Peter Moore, 24 hours before his Microsoft resignation
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
Quick Note: Whoops, Microsoft Pushed Unwanted Windows 10 to Some Users
October 15, 2015, 9:04 PM
Quick Note: Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 10565 Fixes Boot Camp 6.0 Issues
October 13, 2015, 11:39 AM
Microsoft's HD-500 ("Display Dock"), the Magic Sauce Behind Continuum
October 6, 2015, 5:30 PM
Quick Note: Windows 10 Hits 110 Million Devices, VMs
October 6, 2015, 4:30 PM
Windows 10 on Raspberry Pi, IoT Devices Sees Developer Debut
August 12, 2015, 2:41 PM
Sony Issues Bizzare "Do Not Update" Edict to VAIO PC Owners
August 11, 2015, 9:42 PM
Most Popular Articles
DHS and TSA: Whoops, We Missed That 73 Airport Employees May be Terrorists
November 19, 2015, 2:16 PM
iPhone 7 May Pack 3-4 GB Memory, More Storage; 4-Inch Comeback is Rumored
November 20, 2015, 10:12 PM
Creationists are Mad About Google Doodle Depicting Evolution
November 24, 2015, 8:48 PM
Jumbo Joust: iPad Pro vs. Surface Pro 3 vs. Surface Pro 4
November 11, 2015, 1:00 AM
Glenn Beck's Attempt at Anti-Refugee Meme Proves He's Really, Really Dumb
November 18, 2015, 4:17 PM
Latest Blog Posts
Sceptre Airs 27", 120 Hz. 1080p Monitor/HDTV w/ 5 ms Response Time for $220
Dec 3, 2014, 10:32 PM
Costco Gives Employees Thanksgiving Off; Wal-Mart Leads "Black Thursday" Charge
Oct 29, 2014, 9:57 PM
"Bear Selfies" Fad Could Turn Deadly, Warn Nevada Wildlife Officials
Oct 28, 2014, 12:00 PM
The Surface Mini That Was Never Released Gets "Hands On" Treatment
Sep 26, 2014, 8:22 AM
ISIS Imposes Ban on Teaching Evolution in Iraq
Sep 17, 2014, 5:22 PM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2015 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information