Microsoft talks Windows 8 touch keyboard design

Shane McGlaun - Jul 18, 2012, 6:15am CDT
Microsoft talks Windows 8 touch keyboard design

Love them, or hate them, on-screen keyboards are a necessity on the majority of smartphones and tablets on the market today. There are a few smartphones out there with integrated physical keyboards and a few tablets that have keyboard accessory. But, for most tablet users the onscreen keyboard will be the most commonly of entering data. Microsoft is talking a bit about what went into designing the Windows 8 touch keyboard for tablets and other devices.

Microsoft put time and effort into optimizing the onscreen keyboard for comfort and posture. The software giant notes that it looked at many different keyboard types including keyboards that were big, small, floating, round, and swipe keyboards. Microsoft says it settled on three keyboard postures that were common but it wanted to address including typing with one hand holding device, two hands holding device with thumbs typing, and typing with the device laying on a surface with both hands. The keyboard in Windows 8 was designed to be optimized for all three of these postures.

Optimizing the onscreen keyboard for different postures is very important if you’re knocking out a long document in Microsoft Office or a similar application. Microsoft also put considerable effort into researching hand sizes. Microsoft had a wide variety of people use a special tablet with sensors that could indicate where the thumbs could reach most comfortably and where they could extend to with a somewhat uncomfortable reach.

All this data was aggregated and used specifically to design keyboard where the most important keys were comfortable to reach. Microsoft’s on screen keyboard has two types of feedback, the keys change color when touched, and they create a sound. These feedback mechanisms can be disabled. With all the effort that went into creating the Windows 8 onscreen keyboard, I hope the operating system is finished and polished very well when it launches.

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