Microsoft: The desktop UI will never go away completely

Microsoft's launch of Windows 8 in 2012 introduced the PC world to its Modern user interface, made mostly for touchscreen display interactions. Many PC users, however, still interact with Windows 8 primarily with the traditional desktop UI. You might think that Microsoft would like to do away with the desktop at some point, but a company executive is quoted as saying that might never happen.

A TechCrunch article quotes Microsoft Chief Evangelist Steven Guggenheimer saying, at least at first, "Over time, it’s likely to go away." However, the article mentions that Guggenheimer quickly changed that statement, saying he was not sure if the desktop UI will "ever go away completely."

Certainly applications such as Excel spreadsheets or advanced 3D modeling programs will still need to be controlled mostly by the mouse-keyboard combination on a desktop interface for a long time to come. Guggenheirmer states that at the moment there's "this weird balance between [the desktop] ending up being less critical over time, but it probably never goes away completely. Or if it does, it’s hard to predict when."

The interview was conducted last week during the Imagine Cup 2013 finals. On that subject, Guggenheirmer said that while some aspect of the student technology competition "are phenomenal," he added that "some aspects don’t scale as well as we’d like." He hints that he would like to see more of the students who enter the contest turn their creations into full start up companies, rather than just the finalists.

Source: TechCrunch | Image via Stardock

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"Microsoft: The desktop UI will never go away completely" -- Have to agree with ol' ms on that one, since the desktop going away completely would mean Windows going away a LOT. lol

Microsoft needs to refine and polish things from release to release, similar to what Apple does, instead of "reimplementing", "re-imagining" and "re-architecting" "everything" "from scratch".

lexp said,
Microsoft needs to refine and polish things from release to release, similar to what Apple does, instead of "reimplementing", "re-imagining" and "re-architecting" "everything" "from scratch".

Windows has looked remarkably the same for almost 30 years, with even the 'new' Modern UI resembling Windows 1.0 in some of the usability designs.

Windows 8.1 can run software that is literally over 30 years old, supports the same keyboard shortcuts for legacy applications and works fundamentally the same way for traditional keyboard mouse users as it always did. Alt-Tab still flips Applications. The Alt key still exposes any menu bar and toolbar keyboard shortcuts on ribbons, etc.

Microsoft has been trying to move users to new ways of thinking and newer and more natural UI concepts, but they haven't broken anything to accomplish this. They have NOT removed anything, they have only added on new things, and people that don't like the new stuff, doesn't have to use it.

You can install Windows 8.0 and pretend it is 1995 and work like you are sitting at a Win95 desktop. And the majority of all the software from 1995 still works as well.

There is a difference from seamless progress and breaking/replacing things for progress. Microsoft is not in the habit of breaking things to offer progress. (Even the Start Menu/Start Screen is truly just a full screen size Start Menu that works the pretty much the same as it did with Windows 7 with regard to 'run/search/etc', and if you look at it from the All Apps and Tiles alone aspect, it looks more like WIndows 1.0-3.1 going back to the solid UI concepts and removing the ridiculous 'nested folders' for Application Icons that were more of a fad than functional.


An obvious observation. Pity Microsoft didn't give installer the choice of UI to use with Windows-8/8.1. It would have saved them so much bad press (now well deserved) and heartburn for users (never deserved).

Umm... you obviously don't know how to read or love misinforming people.
If you look at the source article, it clearly states:
"'Over time, it's likely to go away,' ... saying that he doesn't know “if it'll ever go away completely.”

Try doing advanced fine detail vector drawing or 3D modelling on a touchscreen... it's impossible. Touchcreens are too inaccurate and you can't see the exact spot your touching as your finger tip is in the way! I'm sure many artists have this problem as well.

The problem is MS, etc. are trying to shoehorn everything into one style of working and the real world isn't like that.

Touch may be all right for those just using a computer as an aid to their work (typing the odd email, browsing the web, typing the odd letter, checking and updating a calendar) but people who actually work on their PCs full time in other ways don't want it.

I've noticed that most of the touch/tablet support comes from middle management and up, teenagers (who use them for social stuff), programmers and 'tech' geeks... all people who don't care about the desktop anyway. There are a huge number of us who use (and could only use) the desktop all day every day.

All getting rid of the desktop would do is force a large segment of the market into either sticking with Windows 7, or moving to Apple, Linux, etc.

Windows is getting dumbed down...

thehootyowl said,
Try doing advanced fine detail vector drawing or 3D modelling on a touchscreen... it's impossible. Touchcreens are too inaccurate and you can't see the exact spot your touching as your finger tip is in the way! I'm sure many artists have this problem as well.

The problem is MS, etc. are trying to shoehorn everything into one style of working and the real world isn't like that.

Touch may be all right for those just using a computer as an aid to their work (typing the odd email, browsing the web, typing the odd letter, checking and updating a calendar) but people who actually work on their PCs full time in other ways don't want it.

I've noticed that most of the touch/tablet support comes from middle management and up, teenagers (who use them for social stuff), programmers and 'tech' geeks... all people who don't care about the desktop anyway. There are a huge number of us who use (and could only use) the desktop all day every day.

All getting rid of the desktop would do is force a large segment of the market into either sticking with Windows 7, or moving to Apple, Linux, etc.

Windows is getting dumbed down...

You are conflating a low resolution input device like the iPad with a digitizer class touch screen with a digitizer like the Surface Pro and other PC Tablets that offer a high precision stylus.

The most 'accurate' way to work with content is still with a digitizer and stylus, and having the digitizer on the screen and being able to use a pen and touch gestures independently are far more effective and natural as well.

A serious engineer or 3D designer or serious graphic designer already have expensive digitizer class screens. Now that they are becoming available on more portable and inexpensive tablet devices like the Surface Pro, it is an exploding market with people even dumping their Macs to have the ability to sketch or manipulate 3D content with more precision on an accurate digitizer class tablet.

Head over to Wacom and look at their digitizer products, from the independent devices to the screen based digitizers. There is a reason they are a premium product and professional designers users them. The only thing that has keep Wacom selling these screen based devices is the lack of inherent support on Mac. On the other hand a lot of Windows designers have been using TabletPCs with digitizer quality screens for over 10 years.

With tablet MFRs following the Surface Pro reference designs, there are a lot of tablets and even 'big' tablet form factors that have enterprise quality stylus/digitizer support, and they are finally becoming the trend they should have been 10 years ago if people would have given them a chance.

...and with a Stylus on a digitizer class screen with high input resolution, they are superior to a mouse in every way on the 'Desktop'.

"Most" people seem to enjoy touch screens and are moving away from desktops to tabelts/phones.

Us techies/neowinians are becomming a niche market. Stop thinking you are the world.

Laptops and desktop setups are being sold with touch screens and people seem to love the added ability of easy point and press.

You clearly havent been outside in the big scary world for a while.

Got some evidence to back up your claim?


Ironically, "the big scary world" called me up and asked to have a tablet set up for their work. It came as no surprise to find them using a keyboard and mouse that same day to get actual work done.

I was always firmly in the keyboard and mouse camp... until I started using my Surface Pro with another screen attached. Now I use touch on the Modern UI, and the mouse on the Desktop on the other screen. It works really well!

Windows 8 is Rosie O'Donnell. Windows 8.1 is Rosie O'Donnell with lipstick. Windows 7 is what one would call Adrianna Lima, a piece of art.

As long as there's data to enter into a database, I'm going to opt for a keyboard and mouse in a desktop environment until those three things are superseded by something better. To date, there isn't.

Yeah, at some point you figure that a 40 year old UI paradigm will go away or become less critical than it is now. But in order for that to happen it would need to be replaced by a paradigm that does all that the desktop can do and more. However easy to use touch computing is driving computing hardware these days.

I think Windows 8 is simply Microsoft building into it's flagship OS the ability to do any and everything on and device and that's really what Windows 8 does. 8.1 certainly refines this but there's still work to be done. But I think the OS that does everything that can run on any hardware should do fine as long as continuous refinements and improvements are made, and it looks like that's were Microsoft is headed with Windows released coming on an annual basis now.

The most amusing thing to me is that the desktop devout are so completely disgusted by the metro UI, that they have shut down any thought process that would wander in that direction.

The metro UI will never evolve to them.

The metro UI will never add features to them.

The metro UI will never become more desktop-like to them.

There is only the desktop as it was, and metro as it is. Nothing else exists, nor ever will.

Why would they change the metro UI to become more desktop like?

That makes no sense. If that's the goal why not just modify the existing desktop UI to be more "metro like"?

In my view the two paradigms are entirely at odds and combining them would be a UX disaster.

IgorP said,
Why would they change the metro UI to become more desktop like?

That makes no sense. If that's the goal why not just modify the existing desktop UI to be more "metro like"?

In my view the two paradigms are entirely at odds and combining them would be a UX disaster.

I would like Microsoft to remember that the Desktop ui IS what the majority use. Choice, give it. Choice.

IgorP said,
Why would they change the metro UI to become more desktop like?

That makes no sense. If that's the goal why not just modify the existing desktop UI to be more "metro like"?

In my view the two paradigms are entirely at odds and combining them would be a UX disaster.


Uh, it's a surprisingly short walk, you know. It's barely more than the challenge of finding a touch-friendly implementation of overlapping applications. Apps are already getting better at resizing. Once you have resizing and overlapping, for all intents and purposes, you have a desktop.

Desktop/Metro its all interchangable for the user interface and user experience. Its pretty daft to think that the desktop as you know it is not going to change and continue evolving.

The artcle clearly says mouse and Kb are going to continue to play an important role but that doesnt mean the desktop 5-10 years from now still has to be static icons in front of a wallpaper with a taskbar. The "desktop" is really just a launchpad for sorting your data and launching apps, a new UI isnt going to stop you doing that.

Windows is not Windows without the desktop! It was Xerox Alto UI that inspired Mac's desktop, then that inspired Windows desktop and that inspired all the other desktops. If Microsoft for some crazy reason got rid of the desktop, I'll have to hold onto Windows 7 & 8 until all support ends. It would be death for Windows if Microsoft got rid of the desktop. If Microsoft so whole heartedly believes the future is touchscreens, go make a new OS, please don't mess with Windows!

Lone Wanderer Chicken said,
If Microsoft so whole heartedly believes the future is touchscreens, go make a new OS, please don't mess with Windows!

I think that's what WinRT is. They're not getting rid of the desktop.

I see the real problem with Windows 8 is that it's "this" or "that". It's a touch-based Metro design for some things and a normal click-based desktop environment for others. The line between the two is very bold right now, even jarring. The 8.1 update is helping to soften that line a bit and as we progress that line will get wuzzier and wuzzier. In time there wont be this mouse verses touch mentality. There will be a toolbox, so to speak, of ways to interact. Mouse, pen, touch, gesture will all just be options and not competing concepts.

jarring jarring jarring jarring jarring jarring jarring jarring jarring jarring

Every Windows 8 critic's new favorite word.

Then, why not give users the choice of UI to use? (It is the height of arrogance for Microsoft to assume that all users would just fall over themselves for the Metro UI.) Windows-8/8.1 is not an improvement to the Windows-7 UI for those of us using laptops and desktops. As for the processing improvements, that is a totally separate issue.

They do. Click "Desktop" on Windows 8 and you're on the desktop. Set your default programs to be desktop programs. Done.

"Microsoft: The desktop UI will never go away completely"

that's microsoft-speak for "windows 8x is doomed. back to the desktop for windows 9 and that's the end of this fiasco. thank gawd."

Yeah, its not like MS has a history of supporting legacy features for many many years, far beyond what other companies do.

Seriously though, anyone assuming the desktop goes away any time soon is silly. There is a need and demand for that UI and MS intends to lean on it for the foreseeable future. Metro is there for MS to cater to the changing market, something they can use on portable devices.

It reminds me of .net back in 2001, when everything was about .net, and everything should be rewritten in .net, and i still remember the Microsoft Windows .NET Server

It is all over again with Metro, Metro this metro that.

john.smith_2084 said,
It reminds me of .net back in 2001, when everything was about .net, and everything should be rewritten in .net, and i still remember the Microsoft Windows .NET Server

It is all over again with Metro, Metro this metro that.

Do you remember Longhorn?

Sraf said,

If it wasn't, you do know that .Net is at the core of WinRT

NO it's not! WinRT is at its core COM. For the love of god, get your facts right first!! You simply Interop like you always did between COM/Win32 and .NET...

john.smith_2084 said,
It reminds me of .net back in 2001, when everything was about .net, and everything should be rewritten in .net, and i still remember the Microsoft Windows .NET Server

It is all over again with Metro, Metro this metro that.

Ok, you might find this 'funny', but Metro(WinRT) uses .NET technologies. The most advanced applications outside of pure DirectX are .NET based. All the Apps running on WP7/WP8 are .NET based, even the HTML5 content on WinRT runs on top of a variation of .NET.)

Here is something even more 'fun'... A lot of the HTML5 technologies are based on work that came from Microsoft .NET, especially the XAML technologies that HTML5 is evolving around to replicate.

As for the desktop, .NET is the primary framework for applications or is used in conjunction with other frameworks. Even IE9/10/11 on the desktop use .NET technologies and Office 2013 are using .NET for various parts of applications.

So Microsoft was right about .NET, as it is one piece of their dual model to support many platforms. (NT on the bottom and .NET on top.)

trooper11 said,
Nah, it was probably the part where you can turn that off if you aren't into internet search results

You CAN turn off Internet searching...

So, hundreds of years from now, we'll still be clicking away at a mouse? Uhhhhhh huh. Call me skeptical. Also, why not use an image of a stock Windows 8 desktop?

yeah. why would people want the exactness of a mouse when they can trade it for the guess work of a touch interface that's full of smudges?

Dot Matrix said,
So, hundreds of years from now, we'll still be clicking away at a mouse? Uhhhhhh huh. Call me skeptical. Also, why not use an image of a stock Windows 8 desktop?

You won't be tapping away at a bunch of squares and rectangles either.

seta-san said,
yeah. why would people want the exactness of a mouse when they can trade it for the guess work of a touch interface that's full of smudges?

If you're afraid of smudges, then how do you get any work done with any other i/o device? No one today seems too concerned with smudges on their touch screens. Why is that suddenly an issue?

Edited by Dot Matrix, Jul 17 2013, 2:44am :

virtorio said,
People complain about smudges all the time. It's not the end of the world, but it is a hassle.

You have smudges on anything, though. It never stopped anyone from using a keyboard or mouse, so why is it a thing with touchscreens? The screens on my Surface and Lumia are easily cleanable, and don't smudge like earlier touchscreens did.

virtorio said,
People complain about smudges all the time. It's not the end of the world, but it is a hassle.

To be honest, I can only see smudges on my devices when they are turned off.

Dot Matrix said,

You have smudges on anything, though. It never stopped anyone from using a keyboard or mouse, so why is it a thing with touchscreens? The screens on my Surface and Lumia are easily cleanable, and don't smudge like earlier touchscreens did.

I think the issue lies in the fact that people don't look at their mice or keyboards to see the content

/Just saying. I like systems that support touch, and have for a long time

Dot Matrix said,

You have smudges on anything, though. It never stopped anyone from using a keyboard or mouse, so why is it a thing with touchscreens?


There is an obvious answer, see if you can get it, I'll give you three guesses.

Dot Matrix said,

You have smudges on anything, though. It never stopped anyone from using a keyboard or mouse, so why is it a thing with touchscreens? The screens on my Surface and Lumia are easily cleanable, and don't smudge like earlier touchscreens did.

Cannot compare shiny surfaces to dull/matte surfaces. Thought this would be obvious.

And yes, 100 years from now things would be different. Probably a miss statement like many other tech leaders have made over the years.

Dot Matrix said,

If you're afraid of smudges, then how do you get any work done with any other i/o device? No one today seems too concerned with smudges on their touch screens. Why is that suddenly an issue?

smudges on phone are different story. on desktop that I do my photo work, i want true, excact colors all the time, last thing I need is some damn smudges. no one is allowed to touch screen on my monitors.

nekrosoft13 said,

smudges on phone are different story. on desktop that I do my photo work, i want true, excact colors all the time, last thing I need is some damn smudges. no one is allowed to touch screen on my monitors.

Smudges ruin colors, how exactly? I still have true, exact colors on my Surface, despite some minor prints.

Dot Matrix said,

If you're afraid of smudges, then how do you get any work done with any other i/o device? No one today seems too concerned with smudges on their touch screens. Why is that suddenly an issue?

Do you even read your own replies? Forget smudges, can you ever do 3D modelling, CAD designs ever on any of the current alternatives to mouse and keyboard? No.
You simply bend forward to touch your 29" PC monitor to draw a line.

Can someone show me option to hide a particular user and all his posts from ever appearing when logged in?

sanke1 said,

Can someone show me option to hide a particular user and all his posts from ever appearing when logged in?

My control panel -> Settings -> 'Ignore' Preferences

I guess no one has learned yet. Do not argue with Dot Matrix. This dude is always right. The new UI is Gods gift to man and with its power, we will be better human beings and live happy lives forever.

sanke1 said,

Do you even read your own replies? Forget smudges, can you ever do 3D modelling, CAD designs ever on any of the current alternatives to mouse and keyboard? No.
You simply bend forward to touch your 29" PC monitor to draw a line.

Can someone show me option to hide a particular user and all his posts from ever appearing when logged in?

3D modeling and CAD design will probably be done entirely virtual in the future. either with a oculus like device or further on plugged directly in, and you use your hands to model directly and draw directly. and by using grids and snaps yes, you can do accurate technical modeling this way.

Guggenheirmer states that at the moment there's "this weird balance between [the desktop] ending up being less critical over time, but it probably never goes away completely. Or if it does, it's hard to predict when."

Is there something about this conference where he spoke that I'm missing?

He's talking about the foreseeable future. Not 100 years from now, or even 30. In fact, he doesn't know when he's talking about

The desktop is becoming less important. Most people can get what they need out of their computer from their phone or tablet already. Of course, people who need Photoshop and Excel, etc., can't, but most people can.

One day, in the not too far future, most people won't even be using the desktop, except developers, designers, accountants, geeks, etc..

seta-san said,
yeah. why would people want the exactness of a mouse when they can trade it for the guess work of a touch interface that's full of smudges?

NASA is designing their next spaceship completely through a touch interface. I mean, who needs the precision of a cursor-based input, right? The hell with AutoCAD. Microsoft Fresh Paint rules!

sanke1 said,

Do you even read your own replies? Forget smudges, can you ever do 3D modelling, CAD designs ever on any of the current alternatives to mouse and keyboard? No.
You simply bend forward to touch your 29" PC monitor to draw a line.

Can someone show me option to hide a particular user and all his posts from ever appearing when logged in?

Tony Stark can, and so can you!

Dot Matrix said,

Tony Stark can, and so can you!


Humor? Pleasant surprise

Hehe but that interface is still long way to go. Looks sexy on TV, but you can't keep your hands suspended in air. They will get painful. In fact, why don't you conduct an experiment where you perform hand gestures like Tony stark for more than 6 hrs. Do take 5 mins break after every 30 minutes just to be fair. Report here how your hands feels.

The only reason keyboard mouse works is because our hands have very good support of the desk.

sanke1 said,

Humor? Pleasant surprise

Hehe but that interface is still long way to go. Looks sexy on TV, but you can't keep your hands suspended in air. They will get painful. In fact, why don't you conduct an experiment where you perform hand gestures like Tony stark for more than 6 hrs. Do take 5 mins break after every 30 minutes just to be fair. Report here how your hands feels.

The only reason keyboard mouse works is because our hands have very good support of the desk.

My hands are in the air a good part of the day, and I'm almost never fatigued. Holding them up for a few quick gestures isn't going to give anyone gorilla arm.

Dot Matrix said,

My hands are in the air a good part of the day, and I'm almost never fatigued. Holding them up for a few quick gestures isn't going to give anyone gorilla arm.

FEW QUICK GESTURES?
Will that be enough to use your PC on day to day basis?

sanke1 said,

FEW QUICK GESTURES?
Will that be enough to use your PC on day to day basis?

Unless you plan on using the OSK or something similar, a few quick gestures is all it would take to open a new app, position a cursor, etc. before your hands go back to the keyboard, or move up to the screen for touch.

Dot Matrix said,

Smudges ruin colors, how exactly? I still have true, exact colors on my Surface, despite some minor prints.

Are you really asking that question?

SuperKid said,
Lol... You can't even see the smudges when the device is turned on..

I reckon the eyesight of some are better than others then.

virtorio said,
People complain about smudges all the time. It's not the end of the world, but it is a hassle.

So are cold sores, right?

for u non forward thinking folks, in the future computers will be much smarter w/ ai and use voice interaction so some of that "exact precision" u mention will be a no brainer for the machine.....

All of the "AI" and "voice recognition" in the world isn't going to mean anything for users that need to do pixel perfect work (like graphics designers and artists).

tegument said,
for u non forward thinking folks, in the future computers will be much smarter w/ ai and use voice interaction so some of that "exact precision" u mention will be a no brainer for the machine.....

As long as I can tell the AI to sod off (along with its fans) and the AI understands it, then I'm ok with it

virtorio said,
All of the "AI" and "voice recognition" in the world isn't going to mean anything for users that need to do pixel perfect work (like graphics designers and artists).

Is like trying to explain string theory to a parakeet.

JHBrown said,
I guess no one has learned yet. Do not argue with Dot Matrix. This dude is always right. The new UI is Gods gift to man and with its power, we will be better human beings and live happy lives forever.

Dot Matrix is clinically insane. That is why the bland monochrome interface appeals to him so much -- reminds him of the white padded walls.

And oh yea, Metro will SAVE US ALLLL. IT IS THE ONE TRUE ANSWER!!!! /s

Dot Matrix said,

If you're afraid of smudges, then how do you get any work done with any other i/o device? No one today seems too concerned with smudges on their touch screens. Why is that suddenly an issue?

Horses for courses, mate. I use my computer screen to do DTP and watch videos. I do not want smudges on my screen. I do not use my phone for that.

thomastmc said,

One day, in the not too far future, most people won't even be using the desktop, except developers, designers, accountants, geeks, etc..

I thought we were already there...

sanke1 said,

Do you even read your own replies? Forget smudges, can you ever do 3D modelling, CAD designs ever on any of the current alternatives to mouse and keyboard? No.
You simply bend forward to touch your 29" PC monitor to draw a line.

Can someone show me option to hide a particular user and all his posts from ever appearing when logged in?

Why is touch with a finger the only alternative you offer in your hypothetical?

I have been doing CAD and 3D design for nearly over 20 years, and I started with a graphics digitizer, and continue to work with a Stylus on a touch screen device.

The Stylus is for precision and using my fingers for gestures to move content around is far superior in usability and accuracy to a mouse. PERIOD.

This whole anti-touch world is starting to sound a bit crazy. I agree that Apple tainted the world with a low resolution input touch screen device that became synonymous with 'tablets'.

In the real world, it is the stylus based tablets that are the true power user workstations. (iPad = Fingerpainting : Surface Pro = Professional drawing/painting)

Wacom has been selling high end stylus (digitizer quality) touch screen for many years, and it is the engineers, 3D designers, and traditional graphic designers that NEED and use these products.

The Microsoft Surface Pro and other tablet tablets that include a stylus with a digitizer class display are the next generation, especially for professionals that need the precision and the usability these devices (like the Wacom screens) offer over a traditional mouse.

(Seriously, go look up serious software for design, they all support and ENCOURAGE at least a separate stylus if not a digitizer class screen with stylus support.)

The assumption you are making is that the only alternatives are keyboard+mouse or finger touch input. But there are other more obvious alternatives. For photo editing or CAD type of work, think back to architect/designers drafting board. With large high resolution monitors (4K or larger) and pen digitizers and other visual input methods, to zoom in & out of work spaces, the use of mouse can be eliminated and get same or greater precision of location.

Mobius Enigma said,

The Stylus is for precision and using my fingers for gestures to move content around is far superior in usability and accuracy to a mouse. PERIOD.

I get what you're saying. I think the ultimate desktop will be the one that will allow users to combine multiple input methods in the best way possible. Stylus, touch, mouse and even LeapMotion (google if you're not familiar with it). Thing is, you get the point where most people don't. The issue is that a lot of people think that touch is the future that will replace all other input mechanisms. Which is, of course as stupid as saying that pens will replace pencils.

I have a Wacom Intuos and I don't feel like that could replace my mouse. In fact when I work with DTP I tend to use the stylus in my left hand and the mouse on my right, and I combine those moves. Also when doing some CAD/CAM stuff I often use the lens-mouse for my Intuos 5. And I can't wait to add a LeapMotion sensor to my PC, but I'd be an idtiot to say that LeapMotion would make any other input method obsolete. Every input method has its pros and cons.

pmdci said,

I get what you're saying. I think the ultimate desktop will be the one that will allow users to combine multiple input methods in the best way possible. Stylus, touch, mouse and even LeapMotion (google if you're not familiar with it). Thing is, you get the point where most people don't. The issue is that a lot of people think that touch is the future that will replace all other input mechanisms. Which is, of course as stupid as saying that pens will replace pencils.

I have a Wacom Intuos and I don't feel like that could replace my mouse. In fact when I work with DTP I tend to use the stylus in my left hand and the mouse on my right, and I combine those moves. Also when doing some CAD/CAM stuff I often use the lens-mouse for my Intuos 5. And I can't wait to add a LeapMotion sensor to my PC, but I'd be an idtiot to say that LeapMotion would make any other input method obsolete. Every input method has its pros and cons.

Exactly...

When I first stared with my graphics tablet (12x12) back in 1991, I made a commitment to use it instead of the mouse (absolute mode of course) for a couple of days. For several years, it ended up being my only input device for anything outside of playing a game.

It really comes down to what we get used to using and what provides us with the functionality we need. A lot of people do not need digitizer class precision, and for them a trackball might be the best tool.

Having 'more' choices available is never a back thing, and that is what scares me when I see a backlash of a technology that only 'adds' to what is already there.

Even take the Microsoft Surface RT, which is designed to be very much a touch-centric device. However even it is only 'adding' touch, it isn't taking anything away from users, as they could plug in a regular wired keyboard and mouse and work without ever touching the screen. (Or 3rd party Bluetooth keyboard/mouse, or even a Wacom Tablet.)

The Surface Pro is a welcome design, as Microsoft is pushing people to see the benefits of a Stylus. For the people that this will benefit and be important it is great for them to get the chance to see they exist and could be beneficial.

This is true of especially the fine details. Like how the Surface uses the touch/Stylus in tandem, where you can rest your hand on the screen while using the Stylus, which people coming from the world of iPad with a blunt stylus don't get to experience or realize even exists - or use the handwriting recognition, or pressure sensitive drawing/painting, etc.

(Microsoft also put a lot of work into bringing up the standards of touch screens with higher resolution accuracy and lower latency, which is why the Surface is more of a reference technology design than a capture the market device, as it will push the industry forward and other MFRs will offer higher quality touch and digitizer class screens, instead of just slapping on an Android or iPad lower resolution input touch screen.)

I am also excited about the Leapmotion controller and further advancements with Kinect like visual technologies. Heck even the PixelSense (original Surface) technologies are something that will become more portable eventually, and instead of seeing a 'touch point' on a screen, the screen will be able to see the size and shape and even an image of what is touching it. (This will be the ultimate replacement for touch and digitizer technologies, even offering imaging/scanning, etc.)

There will be people that will still work better with a touchpad or a keyboard only, but that doesn't mean other won't benefit from the newer technologies, and progress is always good.

(I remember when the mouse with the cross hairs was the main mode for digitizers, as people used them to trace blueprints/etc, and the stylus was the new thing for digitizers to allow free form tracing. It was a technology that had more of a future than the engineers at the time ever would have thought, often not using the pen.)

Mobius Enigma said,

Exactly...

Great comments there. Couldn't agree more.

I think in the end it comes down to the following people saying that touch will replace [insert-a-current-input-method-here]. I reckon this is what tends to drive so much flame around here. And unfortunately this it seems that with the RTM release of Windows 8, Microsoft hopped on this bandwagon.

The use of the stylus on the Surface Pro brings another interesting issue. When Wacom release the first line of Cintiq devices I though "well this will replace all previous Wacom tablets in the future". Boy was I wrong. Intuos line of devices is still widely used and will keep being used for a long time, mainly because artists got used to be able to draw in a tablet while looking at their monitor, thus having a complete view of the canvas without their hand blocking their view.

As for the surface and a Stylus, I wonder how advance is the technical specs of the Surface Pro as a Wacom tablet? I mean, in matters of pressure level supported, tilt and rotation of input devices, multiple input pens. Does it support other Wacom inputs, like the airbrush or the artistic pen?