Microsoft researcher claims keyboard will soon be a thing of the past

Researchers at Microsoft like Andy Wilson invited others such as the head of Information and Computing Sciences department at SRI, Bill Mark, to get together and question the future of keyboards as we know them. They've come to an agreement that keyboards probably won't have much of a future. According to them, newer technologies like touch screens and eye trackers will replace the keyboard for the vast majority of people.

"Eventually, [keyboards] will become more of a niche thing, like programmers for example. You could almost see that with the workstation market. Workstations are going to be these altars to extreme computing, visualization, computational power, Visual Studio," said Wilson. "And only a small percentage of users do that."

He implies here that only professionals or creative experts will see the need for keyboards in the future.

"When you think about a pen — or something like a pen, going back to a stylus writing in clay — that’s been around for a really long time. That’s because it works very well in certain situations. My personal feeling is that keyboards will be like that," Mark commented. "However, I think we’ll be seeing them a lot less ..."

It's somewhat interesting for these predictions to come out of Microsoft because the company has been rather loyal to the keyboard, particularly with the launch of the Surface tablet. At the least, Microsoft is trying to ease the transition into a world predominantly ruled by touch screens. Competitors like Apple have been more abrupt in severing ties with the keyboard on products such as the iPad.

It's a bold move to claim that keyboards will fade away. While they have already entirely disappeared from the majority of smartphones, they often prove to be quite useful on larger machines like a laptop.

Source: PCWorld | Keyboard image via Shutterstock

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Thrackerzod said,
In other news this Microsoft researcher is an idiot. Keyboards aren't going anywhere.

People said that about keyboards on phones, now look at how many recent release phones have a physical keyboard.

You can't compare a phone to a computer. Phones don't need keyboards and space is a big issue with them due to their size. Programmers don't write code on phones, people don't write word documents on them, etc. Computer keyboards aren't going away, what would replace them? The whole notion is absurd.

A glass touchscreen would replace keyboards like on phones. The keyboard layout could be anything that the touch surface allowed including a trackpad, special keys for special apps, game controller buttons, and an extra screen, even more, it just takes some imagination. You really think that a keyboard developed for the typewriter has much time left in this century? Some people have no imagination. You think the young toddlers who are using iPads today will care about coding with a 'real keyboard' when they are older?

Typing on a glass screen with no tactile feedback is a horrible experience. There is a reason why mechanical keyboards like the Model M and Cherry are still very popular today with people who need to type a lot, just as there is a reason even the latest touch screen tablets like the Surface also have a physical keyboard you can connect to them. Typing on a virtual keyboard sucks.

I don't know of many toddlers who are using iPads but yes if they decide to become programmers, writers or anyone who needs to do any serious typing they're going to do it on a keyboard because that is the easiest and most efficient way for us human beings to do that. As long as we have fingers I don't see that changing.

I don't know why you hate keyboards but just because you think they are obsolete doesn't mean everyone else does. Last time I'm saying because this thread is old and it's getting repetitive but the idea that touch screens or voice controls are going to replace actual keyboards is just ludicrous.

Edited by Bonfire, Sep 5 2013, 5:49am :

@Thrackerzod - Been there and done that when the iPhone was announced. I can't remember how many conversations I had with people who said their phones must have a real keyboard. I don't hate keyboards but I do think that we progress and there WILL be a replacement sooner rather than later. How many phones today have a real keyboard? History speaks for itself. Enjoy your old fashioned keyboard from the 20th century and your ludicrous lack of any imagination about what the future could bring.

Oh, please tell me more about the young kids today who are using touch screens. So they WILL be using physical keyboards when they are older, right. What clothes will they wear when they are older, silver jump suits? What OS will their computer have? Will they do any real work on a tablet? Will they be using MS office on a Surface RT with a cool kickstand? What language will they be coding in? They won't be using voice to type right? Do you have the lotto numbers for next week?

Edited by derekaw, Sep 5 2013, 9:49am :

so.... how would people write documents? speech?

I am so happy to bee here... backspace... backspace... bee here.... no damn it I said bee here not bee here............................. I see a be hive outside *facepalm*

I completely agree. Same with the mouse. That's not to say it will completely disappear in the near future but it will become a niche as the article mentions.

The iPhone was originally poo pooed for not having a 'real' keyboard but now most smartphones have no keyboard just like the original iPhone. I can see the same thing happening with computing as long as there is a workable replacement. I am not sure we are there yet but eventually I see this happening.

I would love a glass touchscreen keyboard, I think that would be an interesting next step. This input device could double as a trackpad, an extra screen, special keys for special apps, a gaming controller etc because all the keys can be programmed on the display. Most people don't do a lot of typing and don't need anything more.

I can see keyboards not being required for navigation but they will always be needed for text input until the pc can read our mind or some other form of communication. I would not want to sit at a keyboard and type with my eyes jogging around a screen on the keyboard. Not to mention an on screen keyboard takes up too much real estate space. Heck, if it becomes the day the PC can enter text for what we are thinking then we probably would not have a screen either. It would all be telepathic. If we could telepathically talk to PCs means that we should be able to with each other too so we could communicate with out a device or wire. The only use for PCs would be for crunching numbers. Eventually maybe we could utilize our own brains to do that work. Then I would also think there would be a problem with our brains staying cool, getting enough energy or needed time to heal. Who knows what we will have in the future.

I think its time for MS to start researching Logic and Common Sense before they become the thing of the past

PLEASE GAWD NO! when ever we have no mechanical keyboards left, I am done coding.... I'd go insane typing on a hard surface all day long

Just like desktop PC's will be thing of the past cause of tablets huh?

What f**king bullsh*t, the usage of keyboards (or desktop pcs for that matter) may used slightly less in the future, but they will never be extinct. I'd love to meet these naysayers in person, because they obviously don't know their right hand from their left.

Microsoft hasn't exactly got a good record atm on what people want or expect either. They're bound to say sh*t like this atm, because they want all pc's to use windows 8 and their tablets.... Makes my blood boil.

Dude, did you RTFA? This lone researcher (note, this is not a company-wide statement) thinks that physical keyboards will still be around for niche users like professionals or creative as the article said.

Maybe you should read before you get your blood boiling *rolls eyes*.

Until there is a brain-computer interface capable of writing words as fast as I can on a keyboard, I'll stick with keyboards.

MS seem to hate their past and who they are. MS we love Win 7 and control via keyboard and mouse - and thats ok. You can create tablets that have touch control and that wont hurt us. Don't hate your past, we don't, but we might start to hate your present.

It's somewhat interesting for these predictions to come out of Microsoft because the company has been rather loyal to the keyboard, particularly with the launch of the Surface tablet. At the least, Microsoft is trying to ease the transition into a world predominantly ruled by touch screens. Competitors like Apple have been more abrupt in severing ties with the keyboard on products such as the iPad.

Microsoft has been 'respectful' of the keyboard, but far less loyal than Apple or other current companies. I am not sure what the Neowin author is thinking.

In the early 90s, PenWindows was designed to offer technologies to replace full time keyboard use. WindowsCE tablets and phones with handwriting recognition technologies again offered users keyboardless technologies of stylus and touch and voice LONG before the iPhone was even a glimmer in Apple's eye.

The TabletPC work at Microsoft was another generation of handwriting and keyboardless UI interaction technologies. It is sad that the iPad gained popularity, as the Microsoft touch and stylus interaction models are still generationally ahead of what is considered 'common' in the tablet industry. (Look at the Galaxy Note popularity, and it is doing less than what a TabletPC offered in 2002.)

Microsoft was working with motion (Kinect) technologies nearly 15 years ago, which is very much the evolution of non-keyboard interface technologies.

There are also the PixelSense technologies from Microsoft that are still the primary 'image' based UI pseudo-touch technologies that expand UI beyond traditional 'touch' technologies like you find on iPad and the current 'popular' generation of devices.

A screen that can see input points and input shapes and literally scan objects and information sitting or placed on the screen is far superior and a far more aggressive push away from traditional 'keyboard' input technologies than anything Apple or anyone is pursuing or offering.

Microsoft has been the MAIN R&D of non-keyboard UI and usability designs for over 20 years, so I do not understand why the author of this article 'thinks' Microsoft has been protective of the keyboard or wants to cling to outdated UI modalities.

MS researchers say that keyboard will soon be discontinued.
(a year ago), MS launch a tablet with a keyboard.

:-|

That so-called "keyboard" that Microsoft peddles with Surfaces's is hardly suitable for touch typists to use for serious data entry. It may be suitable for hunt-n-peckers and gamers, but otherwise, not well.

this guy who responsible for this researcher must be a SOB. the reason they think keyboard is soon going to be thing of past is because haven't got any much improvement for many years and innovate. i can think of many ways to make the keyboard a must have and it will co exist with touch for very long time!

I doubt it. businesses will always use them...so will programmers and old people. same for kids. keyboards may get less use, but not going to go anywhere. even with dvds...ppl still buy vcrs and tapes. djs still buy records even with fancy platters.

2 examples that have totally different reasoning behind.
People keep VCR/Tapes cause they are either poor or haven't had a chance (or didn't care) to digitalize it.
DJ's and music fanatics buying records is because digital music != analogue.

The claimed the same thing after the mouse was introduced. Just like Radio was supposedly dead after TVs became popular. IMHO, the keyboard will still be around for a very long time.

I do not type fast and prefer handwriting, converted by the software in block letters, and I use it all the time for letters, emails, reports etc. but, for example, working on a spreadsheet nothing beats the mouse/keyboard combination, no questions about it.

Brain/computer interfaces are already past prototype. There are designs for taking the visual aspect out of onscreen typing (see Apple and Microsoft patents), usually haptic feedback but there are other ideas. Voice recognition may not replace many uses of keyboard now, but consider that 20 years ago it wouldn't have replaced any, and today it does replace some keyboard use. Not everyone is a 100 WPM typist, or even 20WPM, on a traditional keyboard. Consider Swype. Kinect can detect mouth movement, so why would "voice recognition" require you to speak loudly, or make sound at all? All of this is in the direction suggested.

Because that changes nothing, it will continue to be an addition to a variety of input methods.
It's nonsense to think that the keyboard will become a thing of the past in the foreseeable future, I dare to say our life times.

Why do you need a keyboard if you can just talk to your computer? I can see this happening, say 10-20 yrs. Some of you just don't have any imagination at all. It's a good thing someone does or we would be back in 1990, if it was up to some of you.

Raa said,
I'd love to see you play Quake 3 using voice control.

Ever heard of virtual reality? By the time you get rid of the keyboard, that's probably were we will be. Literally in the game itself.

hagjohn said,

Ever heard of virtual reality? By the time you get rid of the keyboard, that's probably were we will be. Literally in the game itself.


Yeah, i've seen a few models of it actually. I'd like to see VR work on my desktop...

So the future of computing in Microsoft's opinion is basically to limit their flexibility with time and focus them into consumption devices.

Ah ok thanks for explaining Windows 8.

An example of Microsoft's hype, in an attempt to push their failing windows-8 Surface tablets. Or, an example of Microsoft's continuing detachment from how business is really transacted. If "soon" means 10-15 years in the future, possibly. In any case. tap-n-scratch screens and/or voice entry have a very long way to go before becoming a serious competitor to the keyboard/mouse combo.

TsarNikky said,
An example of Microsoft's hype, in an attempt to push their failing windows-8 Surface tablets. Or, an example of Microsoft's continuing detachment from how business is really transacted. If "soon" means 10-15 years in the future, possibly. In any case. tap-n-scratch screens and/or voice entry have a very long way to go before becoming a serious competitor to the keyboard/mouse combo.

This is based on Microsoft R&D work that goes back over 20 years. To conflate these statements with the success or lack of success of Microsoft tablet devices is rather short sighted.

MS are so sure about this that Windows 9 will only have limited keyboard control and you will only be able to use on screen keyboards by default.

I joke but I wouldn't put it past them anymore.

"Microsoft researcher claims keyboard will soon be a thing of the past"

i have less problem believing the microsoft "researcher" if he claims microsoft will soon be a thing of the past.

With PC gaming growing more and more each day that goes on, i don't see the keyboard and mouse leaving us anytime soon.

Bill Gates was telling us decades ago that we'd be all controlling our PCs with voice recognition in just a few years.

He didn't mention smartphones or tablets because they weren't in scope.

It's sort of like how they envisioned in the 1950s that we'd all be flying around in flying Ford Fairlane cars by now.

Not only are we not flying and probably never will, but, even if we were, they wouldn't look anything like Ford Fairlanes.

mbg said,
Bill Gates was telling us decades ago that we'd be all controlling our PCs with voice recognition in just a few years.

He didn't mention smartphones or tablets because they weren't in scope.

It's sort of like how they envisioned in the 1950s that we'd all be flying around in flying Ford Fairlane cars by now.

Not only are we not flying and probably never will, but, even if we were, they wouldn't look anything like Ford Fairlanes.

Gates was also 'made fun of' for predicting there would be a computer in every home.

Word was 'made fun' of for offering new interactive concepts like select and modify that are a part of every OS and piece of software in the world now.

(I could go on, and make this a long list, but I think you get my point.)

Speech recognition software in conjunction with touch screen will be the way to go for the future. Just as it was in the "Star Trek" Movies.
Mobile [hones will also change once the VIDEO side of it catches on with (again) voice recognition software used to call people.

It seems more likely that we'll see some kind of touchscreen/keyboard hybrid. That is a keyboard sized device that is actually a touch screen with feedback. This device would be able to reconfigure itself on the fly to different input scenarios, offering appropriate controls for whatever it is you're doing rather than forcing you to contort around a fixed layout. This device would of course include a keyboard layout as one mode.

I don't think the idea is to have people pecking at 24" touch screens in order to type.

Optimus Maximus was full keyboard with separate display in every key. It was too costly.

Optimus Popularis is current "cheap" (about 955 dollars in Russia and about 1090 dollars worldwide price) compact version.

anonymf said,
Optimus Maximus was full keyboard with separate display in every key. It was too costly.

Optimus Popularis is current "cheap" (about 955 dollars in Russia and about 1090 dollars worldwide price) compact version.

It was too costly and not the best design of the technologies available. We have worked with 3D surface technologies that are far more dynamic, less expensive, have more tactile options and better display technologies. (Microsoft research has some impressive variations of these technologies as well.)

Just because a failed and limited 'key' based display technology failed, doesn't mean that they are not similar but more advanced technologies right around the corner.

So, after the Start Menu researches, the next iteration of Windows won't support keyboard input just mouse voice and touch ?
/S

Some people don't seem to understand that ergonomics do not change with technology. Keyboards have been around for hundreds of years in everything from musical instruments to computer interfaces simply because they match human biology and are an extension of our fingers. Touch screens fail at anything but the most basic tasks because they do not use all your fingers and require visual input. If he thinks humans are going to dumb down into completely unproductive media consumers, that's a bit different issue.

Spicoli said,
Some people don't seem to understand that ergonomics do not change with technology. Keyboards have been around for hundreds of years in everything from musical instruments to computer interfaces simply because they match human biology and are an extension of our fingers. Touch screens fail at anything but the most basic tasks because they do not use all your fingers and require visual input. If he thinks humans are going to dumb down into completely unproductive media consumers, that's a bit different issue.

Touch screens can evolve to create physical tactile patterns that replicate a keyboard, this is something Microsoft has been working on for almost 10 years. We have to think beyond 'flat' touch screen technologies that are hard to navigate without looking at the screen.

Keyboard is the fastest way to type anything down and until the desktop is gone keyboards will always be here. Touch screen on a 24 inch monitor will not work well like on a phone. There is no real need for it on that side besides kiako style devices.

I wouldn't want a touchscreen and all those finger prints anyway, so at least my keyboards will never go away!!

Do these anal-lysts really get paid to come up with this stuff? I'm not talking just computing anal-lysts either.

ACTIONpack said,
Keyboard is the fastest way to type anything down and until the desktop is gone keyboards will always be here. Touch screen on a 24 inch monitor will not work well like on a phone. There is no real need for it on that side besides kiako style devices.

It is not the fastest way actually its speech. As tech gets more advance and more accuracies are put into voice recognition. I believe this is the way of the future not typing.

duk3togo said,

It is not the fastest way actually its speech. As tech gets more advance and more accuracies are put into voice recognition. I believe this is the way of the future not typing.

If I type at my fastest rate and then try to pronounce it on same speed you will get mumbling.

duk3togo said,

It is not the fastest way actually its speech. As tech gets more advance and more accuracies are put into voice recognition. I believe this is the way of the future not typing.

Maybe, if you're alone in a room, definitely nothing that will happen anytime soon at workplaces…

Shadowzz said,

If I type at my fastest rate and then try to pronounce it on same speed you will get mumbling.

yeah i got much higher WPM (words per minute) if i type,
i tried to dictate words using 'speaking' and voice recognition software, i got way lower WPM.

unless of course, duk3togo can speak better than speeding chipmunk talk.

duk3togo said,

It is not the fastest way actually its speech

"captial-D ear captial-S irs slash capital-M adam comma carriage-return carriage-return formatboldunderscoredcenteraligned...."

There's more to text than speech. This won't happen in my lifetime.

There's more people using keyboards all day long in Microsoft for non-Visual Studio work than there are those who do. I've no idea where these people are coming from.

As MorganX says it, to iPad users keyboards seem to be something of a status symbol.

Mugwump00 said,

"captial-D ear captial-S irs slash capital-M adam comma carriage-return carriage-return formatboldunderscoredcenteraligned...."

There's more to text than speech. This won't happen in my lifetime.

Are you 100 years old? Because all you did was explain grammar and sentence structure, which software can and easily understand. It's getting better too.

ZipZapRap said,

Are you 100 years old? Because all you did was explain grammar and sentence structure, which software can and easily understand. It's getting better too.


Even without formatting the average typist will type faster then any of us can speak.

MFH said,

Maybe, if you're alone in a room, definitely nothing that will happen anytime soon at workplaces…

And unless you are single it will not happen in the living room as well. Yes you could change the TV channel,open a browser and do other simple tasks.... if you catch the moment when kids are not talking, running around, the dishwasher is not running etc. etc.
The main problem with voice recognition is that you need a machine able to discern your command among the huge amount of various noises that, unconsciously, we are constantly hearing. A person locked in a completely insulated room without any noise would become mentally insane in less than 24 hours. We might be able, in a far future, to create something able to filter all these inputs in the same way our brain constantly does but I do not think that packing all the necessary power in a small Tablet will happen in the foreseeable future.

ZipZapRap said,

Are you 100 years old? Because all you did was explain grammar and sentence structure, which software can and easily understand. It's getting better too.

Did you type that or talk that? Start that letter now, as I described, with your favourite VR tool. 2 Lines, formatted as described. Sure, have as much time as you like to train it all up too. Why not do it next to your office colleagues, as they speak their weekly reports...


ACTIONpack said,
Keyboard is the fastest way to type anything down and until the desktop is gone keyboards will always be here. Touch screen on a 24 inch monitor will not work well like on a phone. There is no real need for it on that side besides kiako style devices.

Agreed, but there is no reason the way people use a 24" monitor shouldn't evolve to have a tactile onscreen keyboard. Even today, if users place their monitor in an angled or horizontal position (aka Star Trek like) they can use the on screen keyboard and get close to the same WPM as they do with a traditional keyboard sitting in front of the monitor.

Moving the monitor to a 'workstation' layout and sitting in the position of a traditional keyboard is something users don't factor and instead position their monitor behind a keyboard space that makes touch cumbersome.

Traditional keyboards will evolve to where they are no longer a single purpose dedicated device. Even if you consider a screen in the size/shape of a keyboard with dynamic buttons that raise and lower to replicate keys the keyboard of today will disappear even for programmers as this multipurpose device could emulate various types of physical keyboards and also be used for display and non-keyboard input modalities.

The Microsoft people talking about this stuff are working on technologies that we won't see for several years, but are coming.

Mobius Enigma said,


Moving the monitor to a 'workstation' layout and sitting in the position of a traditional keyboard is something users don't factor and instead position their monitor behind a keyboard space that makes touch cumbersome.

I might be under-evolved, by my eyeballs and finger-tips are configured to be comfortable in different ergonomic angles. Multi-monitors are great, but I wouldn't want one as my only typing surface... hmmm I wonder if a Surface can act as a PC keyboard... (goes to investigate...)

I recall some prototype of a keyboard that featured a bar of LCD/OLED that could display Systay/Live-tile type info. I could see this taking off - but probably about as well as Sideshow or Trackball Explorer tho.

Such a paradigm-shift is going to require more than a suggestion from Microsoft that keyboards aren't cool.

In the here-and-now I really fancy a Wedge keyboard, to get back some precious deskspace - anyone find them capable of moderate use?

duk3togo said,

It is not the fastest way actually its speech. As tech gets more advance and more accuracies are put into voice recognition. I believe this is the way of the future not typing.

Speech recognition will work great! That is until you're in a class / work / public place with your computer, and everyone is talking to their computers, or you're speaking to your computer an email and the 'smart' friends comes in and says 'you're a ***, send'.

Blueclub said,

Speech recognition will work great! That is until you're in a class / work / public place with your computer, and everyone is talking to their computers, or you're speaking to your computer an email and the 'smart' friends comes in and says 'you're a ***, send'.

Kind of like when you get confused between when your mother and father are talking.

Or you don't, because it is easy to distinguish between their voices. Separating people talking is a trivial exercise for a computer.

Fritzly said,

And unless you are single it will not happen in the living room as well. Yes you could change the TV channel,open a browser and do other simple tasks.... if you catch the moment when kids are not talking, running around, the dishwasher is not running etc. etc.
The main problem with voice recognition is that you need a machine able to discern your command among the huge amount of various noises that, unconsciously, we are constantly hearing. A person locked in a completely insulated room without any noise would become mentally insane in less than 24 hours. We might be able, in a far future, to create something able to filter all these inputs in the same way our brain constantly does but I do not think that packing all the necessary power in a small Tablet will happen in the foreseeable future.

Yeah, kind of like how only single people use phones, otherwise the background noise is too much.
Any how multiple array microphones are rubbish at isolating someone speaking.

Oh wait, that happens already and is simple for the computer to do. Infact, all the algorithms are taking place in the "hardware" and is of little consequence to the computer.

DarkerSeb said,

Yeah, kind of like how only single people use phones, otherwise the background noise is too much.
Any how multiple array microphones are rubbish at isolating someone speaking.

Oh wait, that happens already and is simple for the computer to do. Infact, all the algorithms are taking place in the "hardware" and is of little consequence to the computer.

Would you be so kind to mention what software does it/ Effectively of course. All the ones we tried failed.

DarkerSeb said,
Kind of like when you get confused between when your mother and father are talking.

Or you don't, because it is easy to distinguish between their voices. Separating people talking is a trivial exercise for a computer.


Will you be kind enough to tell me which software out there can distinguish voice?

To add another argument, in an office / public environment, with no keyboard, would you be perfectly OK talking to your PC/TAB, making it easy for others to listen in?

Shadowzz said,

If I type at my fastest rate and then try to pronounce it on same speed you will get mumbling.

Did you guys not read as the tech advances. You guys sound like the people saying sound is going ruin films. Everyone said touch would never work and look at where we at now. Voice recognition will advance and get more refined.

DarkerSeb said,

Yeah, kind of like how only single people use phones, otherwise the background noise is too much.
Any how multiple array microphones are rubbish at isolating someone speaking.

Oh wait, that happens already and is simple for the computer to do. Infact, all the algorithms are taking place in the "hardware" and is of little consequence to the computer.

Multi-microphone arrays are not 'rubbish' at isolating a user. In fact that is what they were designed to do specifically.

A tri-array phone can strip away both ambient sound and also only respond to the user based on the originating position in relation to the phone. Nokia uses a tri-array specifically for this type of isolation and is why WP8 does really well at hands free texting in a room while only capturing the sound of the person that initially responded 'read' to the phone.

Going back to various array microphone technologies, the way they isolate 'ambient' sounds and set a 'level' is based on positioning of the sounds.

If you dig into the design of more advanced microphone 'array' technologies like in the Kinect, they can discern where the user is in the room without using the cameras.

This is how the voice functions work to ignore the sounds coming from a 5.1 speaker system in knowing what position the sound is coming out and ignoring sound from that 'location' in the room.

Even with the Xbox 360, a properly configured Kinect can track a user's voice around the room and respond even when watching a movie with sound levels that literally are shaking a room. It is the 'array' that makes this possible.

(This is something Kinect users can attest or verify. If one user says 'Xbox' the system is less likely to respond to or hear another user complete the command sitting in a different position in the room, as this is by design.)

Shadowzz said,

If I type at my fastest rate and then try to pronounce it on same speed you will get mumbling.

The average person speaks 125-150 words per minute. How fast do you type? Now, before you answer that question, take note of the fact that the fastest typist on record maintained a typing speed of 150 WPM (English) for 50 minutes.

Based on a few facts, my conclusion is that many people speak considerably faster than most people can type.

Shadowzz said,

Even without formatting the average typist will type faster then any of us can speak.

Incorrect. The average person speaks 125-150 words per minute. There are very few people who can even come close to that speed when typing.

Wyn6 said,

The average person speaks 125-150 words per minute. How fast do you type? Now, before you answer that question, take note of the fact that the fastest typist on record maintained a typing speed of 150 WPM (English) for 50 minutes.

Based on a few facts, my conclusion is that many people speak considerably faster than most people can type.

I see people are looking up typing speed facts from Google, and mistakenly find the same article quoting 150wpm as fast. These typing speeds from the 1980s on basic electric typewriters, when 150wpm was blazing.

I worked with a graphic designer that was known for jamming the input buffer on Varitype machines in the early 1980s which could handle 220wpm.

On a good keyboard I average 180-200wpm for prolonged periods of typing, and even on a poor laptop keyboard, I can maintain 150wpm. (My keyboard of choice is a 1st generation Microsoft Ergonomic.)

When we were developing onscreen keyboard technologies in the 90s, using a mouse to 'hunt and peck' without predictive assist one engineer could maintain 85wpm, which was impressive for just a mouse with a small onscreen keyboard.

I had an accountant that had to pass a typing test for his bachelors, and he was a hunt and peck 2-3 finger typist that could maintain 90wpm.


As for the debate about typing versus speaking, it could be argued either way. Typing tends to be faster on average; however, there are people that can speak 600wpm clearly.

Microsoft seem to be in a head long rush into extinction.

I suspect the keyboard will outlive Microsoft, with claims like that.

I do not even suspect, I'm certain. MS is so far behind the front-line innovators these days, it will make any noise to get attention.

occam said,
I do not even suspect, I'm certain. MS is so far behind the front-line innovators these days, it will make any noise to get attention.

It is interesting to see comments like this, yet is Microsoft that is behind the new CPU/GPU architecture designs, are behind new technologies to make touch screens more responsive, and a vast array of base technology that EVERYONE, including Samsung and Apple are adopting for use in their products.

Microsoft may not be making inroads in public perception, but the technologies that people see as 'leading edge' are using or based on technologies that come from Microsoft.

Well I disagree. Microsoft invented many things that blind users do not know. Only when you use their products then you can understand. I think Microsoft is quiet about their innovations. They don't shout out a lot like Apple. For example: new metro UI, Microsoft will say nice, intuitive ui... meanwhile apple will say words like magical, out of this world, etc....

The thing people (that is, the public) look for are tangible creations: things with the Microsoft logo on them. Considering how Microsoft plays a background role in many different markets, versus a company like Apple which is literally in your face at every turning point speaks volumes to how the public perception of each company would hold up. For example, Microsoft may have had real ideas behind the tablet years ago, but not having the physical presence of the devices being everywhere like Apple makes for a very different image and story in the mind of the general consumers. Go to a store for a little while, you'll see people call Samsung tablets an "ipad" just the same.

Anyway, for that reason, that's where we can easily see a lot of the confusion, and perhaps lacking proper credit to the background companies to begin with. Apple might be in the spotlight, but as anyone can see from Hollywood, being in the spotlight isn't always what its cracked up to be.

That isn't to say Microsoft isn't in any sort of spotlight themselves either, but I guess it just depends on the person. Most customers that come in don't think about Microsoft unless they need Office.

dead.cell said,
The thing people (that is, the public) look for are tangible creations: things with the Microsoft logo on them. Considering how Microsoft plays a background role in many different markets, versus a company like Apple which is literally in your face at every turning point speaks volumes to how the public perception of each company would hold up. For example, Microsoft may have had real ideas behind the tablet years ago, but not having the physical presence of the devices being everywhere like Apple makes for a very different image and story in the mind of the general consumers. Go to a store for a little while, you'll see people call Samsung tablets an "ipad" just the same.

Anyway, for that reason, that's where we can easily see a lot of the confusion, and perhaps lacking proper credit to the background companies to begin with. Apple might be in the spotlight, but as anyone can see from Hollywood, being in the spotlight isn't always what its cracked up to be.

That isn't to say Microsoft isn't in any sort of spotlight themselves either, but I guess it just depends on the person. Most customers that come in don't think about Microsoft unless they need Office.

True...

Even in the common PC markets users refer to the product rather than the company brand. Users will often say they use 'Office' or 'Windows' or a 'PC' and not associate the product or the technology with Microsoft or realize it is even made by Microsoft.

This is a bit ironic as Microsoft's policy always has been to name everything with their company name, i.e. Microsoft Office, Microsoft Mouse, Microsoft Windows.

In contrast people that use or refer to Apple products like an iPad, iPhone, or Mac will often say they use 'Apple' when asked what type of computer or device they use in causal conversation.

If casual users disassociate 'Windows' from Microsoft it makes sense than even in the technology community the same type of disconnect occurs and people dismiss or don't pay attention to the underlying technologies that don't shove a logo in their face.

This disconnect works as an advantage when they assume the brand encapulates the entire product. When dealing with technical details of Apple products, you find a lot of technical writers that truly assume Apple has engineered the hardware in the products when they have very little hand in the actual design.

I was reading an article just this week about the 64bit ARM processor that Apple is testing, and the writers attributed the entire design of the CPU to Apple, which was painful to read knowing the lineage of the CPU had been influenced more and was using Microsoft designs than Apple.

I can't disagree since I didn't see "how far" into the future he believes this will happen. It won't happen in the next 100 years IMO. Since the #1 use of any computing device is email, I doubt people will be doing voice recognition of emails, and even soft keys are a nuisance for anything except txt level emails.

The funny thing is, even iPad is headed in the opposite direction, adding keyboards and keyboard covez ...

Well to be fair, I think we can't assume it won't happen. Remember bill gates said a few kb is enough for everyone? Now he bit his tongue. I think in the future we don't even have to type and there will be a device that we wear can read brain signal and type for us. We will see...

@satus I agree. He didn't give a timeline either. But memory is electric moving bits and bytes. And I'd have to see the exact verbiage of Gates' comment again. I think it may have been constrained by the context but people say he meant never ever.

However, like touchscreens on desktops, with keyboards there is a human physical limitation. Like voice recognition. It can do a lot in a lot of place but it's physically not really going to be mainstream. People speaking all over the place, audibly verbalizing private information/messages; just not going to happened. Now, when a PC can read my mind or even a brainwave from and electrode and type what I'm thinking, then it will happen

satus said,
Well to be fair, I think we can't assume it won't happen. Remember bill gates said a few kb is enough for everyone? Now he bit his tongue. I think in the future we don't even have to type and there will be a device that we wear can read brain signal and type for us. We will see...

He never said it:

http://www.wired.com/politics/law/news/1997/01/1484

Just as Steve Jobs never claimed that he personally invented and created everything at Apple but alas individuals here would sooner regurgitate myth than sticking with what the facts actually point to.

MorganX said,
Now, when a PC can read my mind or even a brainwave from and electrode and type what I'm thinking, then it will happen

Given how much some people minds can get distracted I can see proof-readers suddenly being a major profession. Men's minds tend to wander as soon as an attractive colleague passes by the desk so 'mmm nice tits' may turn up with frightening regularity.