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"Touch hardware and Windows 8:" Must-Read Blog

On Wednesday, Building Windows 8featured a post from Jerry Koh, group program manager, and Jeff Piira, test manager, both from the Windows 8 Human Interaction Platform team. The blog post is entitled “Touch hardware and Windows 8” and includes the best discuss of touch-based Windows interfaces and interactions I’ve seen anywhere to date.

The piece also features this terrific diagram of basic touch interactions in Windows 8 (see the full-size original):

Windows 8 chart of fundamental gestures

Windows 8 chart of fundamental gestures

As the blog post says, “the fundamental gestures require no more than 2 fingers,” but also observes that this “can be very limiting for a variety of applications,” by way of explaining “why Windows 8 PCs require digitizers that support a minimum of 5 fingers” (or, more accurately, 5 simultaneous touch points).

Here’s another fascinating snippet from the post:

New UI concepts in Windows 8 also impact touch hardware design. This is another area where Windows 8 PCs will be more capable than existing Windows 7 PCs. For example, the edge swipe required to reveal the charms and app bars fundamentally changes all the assumptions made on touch hardware. Traditionally, the edges of the screen are where touch sensitivity drops off, and it’s a place that hardware manufacturers have traditionally not placed much emphasis on. The center of the screen received all the innovation, while the edges have suffered. If you have seen or experienced the Windows 8 user experience, the edge swipe is a critical part of using Windows. 

All in all, this is a worthwhile manifesto on what drove the touch design for Windows 8. Here’s another couple of tidbits of information that readers might find interesting. Form factor and touch sensor technologies break down as slates (tablets) 14%, all-in-one 30%, convertible (notebook/tablet combo) 40%, touchscreen monitors 16%. Touch technologies in use: capacitive 66%, optical 28%, and other 6%. There are also some interesting diagrams on the success of various kinds of Windows 7 touchscreen operations (working with tiles, snap view drag, right edge swipe, and so forth). Lots of interesting info, and worth at least a once-over.

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