More info revealed on Windows 8 touch screen keyboard

Windows 8 allows tablet and slate-based PCs to offer users a touch screen keyboard. Such features are common among Android-based tablets and, of course, the iPad. But is there a better way to make these kinds of keyboards more useful?

In the latest post on the official Windows 8 blog, Microsoft talks about all the work that went into making the current design of the Windows 8 touch screen keyboard. One thing that Microsoft researched was how people hold tablets. Some hold the device in one hand and then type with the other hand. Yet another has the user holding a tablet with both hands and then typing with their thumbs. Finally, some users tend to type while the tablet is resting on a table or on their lap.

Microsoft says:

An interesting observation from our posture research is that people frequently switch postures, and that posture switch is often seen as a positive thing, as we move about to remain comfortable. So in our keyboard layouts we also considered what it would be like to type for a period of time—say, an email to your mom—and switch postures while you do it. You might start by typing with the tablet lying on the coffee table, for example, but then you might tire of that posture and pick up the tablet, lie back on the couch, and interact with two thumbs.

Another area of research looked into how people type on a tablet's glass surface. Microsoft decided to offer Windows 8 users changes in color when they typed in something on the touch screen keyboard, along with a corresponding sound. The blog added:

We considered other forms of feedback, but ruled them out as too disruptive or unnatural. For example, we explored haptic feedback (a vibration of the device based on input) which you also find on many phones. But most people find the current state-of-the-art haptics somewhat irritating when typing pieces of any length and a buzz can feel as much like a punishment as a reassurance.

Microsoft considered putting in a row of numbers in the standard touch screen keyboard for Windows 8 but decided against it when testers said that the keyboard design felt cramped for them to use. Numbers are shown as a keypad on the right side when a Windows 8 user switches the normal keyboard layout to one with a numbers and symbols layout.

The final default version of the Windows 8 touch screen keyboard, shown above, can be switched over to a standard keyboard layout. Microsoft says, "This is easily enabled from the settings Charm, in the General Settings section of PC Settings."

Source: Windows 8 blog | Image via Microsoft

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15 Comments

What happened to the split-touchscreen keyboard that they've been talking about when Windows 8 was first shown off on tablets?

(Admittedly, I'm too lazy to read the original blog-post)

Coolicer said,
What happened to the split-touchscreen keyboard that they've been talking about when Windows 8 was first shown off on tablets?

(Admittedly, I'm too lazy to read the original blog-post)

It's still there, they talk about it in the original post.

Coolicer said,
What happened to the split-touchscreen keyboard that they've been talking about when Windows 8 was first shown off on tablets?

(Admittedly, I'm too lazy to read the original blog-post)

It's there. Just press the bottom right button and choose it. Transcriber is another options and if you go into the control panel, you can enable the full keyboard (all 100 so buttons) as yet another option.

Interesting read (I will reader the source article later). I wonder if there will be a way to detect a posture change and switch keyboard layout automatically - ex: if you are holding the tablet from the side with both hand, you got the split keyboard.

They need to give us a customizable onscreen keyboard. Maybe a project I'm working on has lots of numbers in it. Maybe I just want a numberpad sometimes, too.

I don't like MS making decisions for me. Windows should be flexible because I'm a PC.

SpyderCanopus said,
They need to give us a customizable onscreen keyboard. Maybe a project I'm working on has lots of numbers in it. Maybe I just want a numberpad sometimes, too.

I don't like MS making decisions for me. Windows should be flexible because I'm a PC.

You can switch the keyboard to a numberpad layout. Perhaps you should read the article before commenting

SpyderCanopus said,
They need to give us a customizable onscreen keyboard. Maybe a project I'm working on has lots of numbers in it. Maybe I just want a numberpad sometimes, too.

I don't like MS making decisions for me. Windows should be flexible because I'm a PC.


I have yet to see a touch keyboard that doesn't provide a number pad. One of the screens in the article shows that mode of op. I think they also explained why they didn't put the numpad together with the main keyboard - cramped screen and it's useless most of the time.

I still am finding it hard to use the number pad on the touch keyboard wish there was a way to flip it or something so its like a std keyboard

Just till i get a keybaord which has it the normal way not upside-down

Let's ask the real question: third party keyboard support. Will it be possible? Will it be hackable, if not possible?

Cuz, yeah. Swype. Let's be honest.

Swype.

Joshie said,
Let's ask the real question: third party keyboard support. Will it be possible? Will it be hackable, if not possible?

Cuz, yeah. Swype. Let's be honest.

Swype.

Using Swype on a tablet would be retarded. The only reason it's faster for most people on a phone is because at most you can use two fingers on a phone screen. I type with all 10 fingers on my Samsung 7 Slate, not like an old grandma trying to search for each letter as I type it.

Swype gives comparable wpm performance when stacked against touch-typing on a tablet (people tend to average anywhere from 30-60 wpm on a slate device, 40-55 on Swype). It's also less of a strain to use.

I realize it's hip for the sort of kids who'd put 69 in a user name to take the ageist route to support some sort of 'argument', but it didn't win you any points.

Also, if you have to use all 10 fingers in regular touch typing, you have some quirks. In regular practice, I achieve around 115-120 wpm using *nine* fingers (one thumb normally has nothing to do--it's the spacebar finger, and typists typically develop a habit of using the same single thumb for the purpose).

If anything, all you're saying is it takes you ten fingers to match what my one finger can do, which really doesn't make you sound all that dope, awesome, OR boss.

what they need to do is allow apps to replace the stock keyboard. such feature tends to boost the platform because they address people that prefer other weird keyboard schemes that may not buy into the platform due to the keyboard. if windows phone had that, complains about its keyboard would be silenced even when it is IMO the best keyboard experience of all, specially stock android.

What I would like to see is a 'bit' better gaming onscreen keyboard support, as crazy as that sounds.

Windows 8 for the first time allows the popup keyboard in full screen gaming, but still gets in the way a bit.

The rest of what they are doing looks good, and the tablet/handwriting is as good/better than ever. I was literally in SWTOR the other day and chatting with a wacom stylus and handwriting. (novel/fun)

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