07 October 2014

Ars Technica: “Continuum: Microsoft finally makes touch and mouse make sense together”

As shown off today, Windows 10 offers environments that are more tailored to mouse and keyboard users—the hybrid Start menu, the windowed Metro apps—and environments that are more tailored to touch users—the full screen Start screen and full-screen apps. But these dual-mode machines should use both, depending on how they’re being used. With its keyboard covers attached, a Surface Pro 3 should probably use the desktop-oriented mode. But with the covers removed, it should probably use the more finger friendly interface style.

This is where Continuum comes into play. Windows 10 will switch modes depending on how it’s being used. Continuum switches the system behavior depending on what hardware is available, and it will dynamically change the interface paradigm as that hardware changes. So plug the keyboard into your Surface Pro 3 and it’ll switch from touch-oriented to mouse and keyboard-oriented.

Peter Bright

As much as people hated Windows 8, I don’t think this is the right solution. It’s hard to draw conclusions from a single concept video and with the final release probably a year away, but the entire reasoning seems backwards to me. People complained about the interface constantly switching between classic desktop and the Metro mode and now Microsoft wants to add another trigger for the OS to switch behavior all the time?! Laptops don’t suddenly change the layout of windows depending on the touchpad being turned on or not or when the user connects an external mouse, why should external keyboards behave differently? This will just confuse people even more.

Windows 10 “continuum” design exploration

To me, the defining factor for the OS user interface should be screen size (larger screen, more desktop-oriented layout) and touch. If the device has a touch screen, then show the touch-friendly UI, no matter what other input methods may be available. Even on large laptop screens, users might want to use touch to scroll, zoom or flip through photos instead of grabbing the mouse or fumbling around with the touchpad. When they need to type or make precise selections, they can come back to the physical keyboard and mouse, without having to worry that their screen content has been randomly moved around in the mean time.

for the record, I bought a Windows 8.1 tablet a couple of months ago and I love the interface, I got used to it in no time!

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