Windows 8: All About The Touch

    June 2, 2011

Yes, operating system completists, Microsoft is ramping up for the next generation of their operating system, lovingly known as Windows 8. After the success of Windows 7 — that is, it wasn’t Vista — it’s almost safe to say the ire that usually followed a Microsoft operating system has largely died down. In fact, people are almost positive when it comes to a Windows update, something I never thought I would write… With a straight face, at least.

But here we are. After a leak or two of the Windows 8 environment — leaks that also got decent buzz — we now have Microsoft itself revealing aspects of the upcoming OS, and if the preview is anything to go by, the word of the day for Microsoft developers is touch. Touch technology, to be precise, because, thanks undoubtedly to the explosion of tablet computers, Windows 8 will feature an extensive level of touch for computer input.

Naturally, there’s a video of the technology in action, and, if you’re a fan of touch computing, your excitement level will probably increase exponentially:

According to a post over at the Microsoft news center, Julie Larson-Green, Corporate Vice President, Windows Experience, indicates the new touch technology will offer the following:

  • Fast launching of apps from a tile-based Start screen, which replaces the Windows Start menu with a customizable, scalable full-screen view of apps.
  • Live tiles with notifications, showing always up-to-date information from your apps.
  • Fluid, natural switching between running apps.
  • Convenient ability to snap and resize an app to the side of the screen, so you can really multitask using the capabilities of Windows.
  • Web-connected and Web-powered apps built using HTML5 and JavaScript that have access to the full power of the PC.
  • Fully touch-optimized browsing, with all the power of hardware-accelerated Internet Explorer 10.
  • Something that stood out to this writer was the use of the word/phrase “apps,” as opposed to “programs” when describing various software packages for the Windows 8 environment. Apparently, adopting terminology used primarily to describe mobile computing programs is being done to offer a level of familiarity between the two methods of personal computing. By using the phrase “apps,” mobile users now identify with the concept of “home” computing.

    It’s pretty humorous such a forced adoption is required to stimulate interest.

    Anyway, for those of you who couldn’t care less about touch computing — guilty — Larson-Green indicates the standard input for home computing, a keyboard and a mouse, will work just as well as touch.

    Although the new user interface is designed and optimized for touch, it works equally well with a mouse and keyboard. Our approach means no compromises — you get to use whatever kind of device you prefer, with peripherals you choose, to run the apps you love. This is sure to inspire a new generation of hardware and software development, improving the experience for PC users around the world.

    The “multiple approaches to getting an individual task done” strategy has been embedded in the Windows environment since at least Windows 98. In regards to the Windows OS, there’s normally more than one way to accomplish a task, like saving, for instance. Ctrl-S or File > Save via the menu are both commands that instruct the program to save whatever document/file is being used.

    Touch technology simply introduces another method with which to accomplish Windows tasks.

    What say you? Are you interested in touch technology for the home computing market or is just another bell/whistle you’ll ignore, favoring the tried and true methods that work for when you’re using your computer? Let us know in the comments.