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Bill Gates Talks Windows Future, Touch Interfaces 198

Posted by timothy
from the objective-stance dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "In a YouTube interview released by Microsoft, co-founder Bill Gates offered a few hints of where Microsoft plans on taking Windows in coming years. 'It's evolving literally to be a single platform,' he said, referring to how Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 share a kernel, file system, graphics support, and other elements. At least in theory, that will allow developers to port apps from the desktop/tablet OS to the smartphone OS with relatively little work. The two operating systems already share the same design aesthetic, with Start screens composed of colorful tiles linked to applications. Gates also praised natural user interfaces — which include touch and voice — while taking a subtle dig at Apple's iPad and other tablets on the market. 'People want to consume their mail, reading, video anywhere, and they want it to be awfully simple,' he said. 'But you want to incorporate touch without giving up the kind of mouse, keyboard capability that's just so natural in most settings.'"
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Bill Gates Talks Windows Future, Touch Interfaces

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  • One or the other (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 23, 2012 @08:50AM (#41740119)

    If you try to "incorporate touch without giving up the kind of mouse, keyboard capability that's just so natural in most settings.", you end up with Windows 8, Unity, and others I don't even want to know about. Keep touch interfaces out of my desktop, please.

    • I'm already pressing buttons on a screen that isn't a touch screen. some actions are more natural with touch screen.
      • by flirno (945854) on Tuesday October 23, 2012 @09:01AM (#41740217)

        Some. Not all.

        Touch is great for accessing and consuming content.

        Touch is currently horrendous for producing or modifying content.

        These are not yet 'unified' avenues of usage as yet.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 23, 2012 @11:13AM (#41740429)

          Touch is also heavily dependent on the distance between user and monitor.

          Basically, if you have to move your shoulder *at all* to reach the display, that repetitive motion will get very tiresome very quickly.

          Tablet/phone: Touch works great.

          Laptop with keyboard: Touch is just so-so. Even with the notebook right on your lap, you have to move your shoulder a bit to reach it. If it's on a desktop in front of you, it gets worse.

          Workstation with large monitor: Touch is horrible. I don't want to move my 30" monitor any closer to me, and I don't want to reach way out to it.

          • by fustakrakich (1673220) on Tuesday October 23, 2012 @11:20AM (#41740527) Journal

            Workstation with large monitor: Touch is horrible. I don't want to move my 30" monitor any closer to me, and I don't want to reach way out to it.

            Lay the monitor almost flat on the table. It would feel like drawing with pencil and paper. Upright is fine if it's mounted on the wall, and you're standing in front of it, like they they show in the movies

            • by 0123456 (636235)

              Lay the monitor almost flat on the table.

              Yeah, hunching over the screen all day will be a really comfortable way to work.

              • Not to mention the awful vertical angle for which screens are not built. In order for the vertical angle to be bearable, you will have to shove the monitor halfway into your belly, if you're thin. If you're even remotely fat, well, shove it with more force. Yay.

            • by mcrbids (148650)

              Screens laid down are horrible when using a keyboard. There's just no easy way to do it. For serious data entry, even a mouse is an irritation, something that we specifically design our software to avoid so that data entry can happen at maximum speed.

              Touch would make the irritation of mouse use ten times worse.

              • by tehcyder (746570)

                Screens laid down are horrible when using a keyboard. There's just no easy way to do it. For serious data entry, even a mouse is an irritation, something that we specifically design our software to avoid so that data entry can happen at maximum speed.

                Touch would make the irritation of mouse use ten times worse.

                The sort of person who thinks that a monitor based on a drawing board is a good idea isn't doing a lot of data/text entry. They're probably graphic artists, which is to say Apple-using wankstains with ironic facial hair and thick-rimmed glasses with no lenses in..

          • by Synerg1y (2169962) on Tuesday October 23, 2012 @11:33AM (#41740735)

            Also requires A LOT of screen cleaner... an excellent investment opportunity for anybody that believes that touch screens will skyrocket in popularity in the near future.

            • Windows for Windex!
              New and Improved!

            • by Waccoon (1186667)

              The first thing I thought when I saw an iPhones was, "That's horrifically stupid! People will get their face grease all over it. It's the dumbest phone design ever."

              It never occurred to me that people would never use the iPhone as a phone.

        • by 0123456 (636235)

          Touch is great for accessing and consuming content.

          So long as you don't mind 'consuming' it behind a smear of fingerprints all over the screen.

        • Touch is great for accessing and consuming content.

          Touch is currently horrendous for producing or modifying content.

          These are not yet 'unified' avenues of usage as yet.

          However it is possible. I have given content creation / editing (as in writing software) on both iPad and my Samsung Galaxy S3 the old college try. In many ways, it is this close to actually working and replacing my laptop. With my galaxy I've used both bluetooth and USB mice. I would break down the support for using a mouse on the latest version of Android as:
          Hardware support: 95%
          OS support: 75%
          App support: 5%

          The problem lies with the apps. They simply aren't written to take proper advantage of a mouse

        • Touch is great for accessing and consuming content.

          Hmm, the gestures I have to make to browse anything on a tablet are way larger than gestures I have to do with my mouse on like 10x larger screen. Then, every time you do "click" on anything with your hand, it is now blocking your view, so you have to move it away, so you can see the result, before navigating further.

          Navigating GMail, using mouse or like a gazillion different key bindings they have is so much easier than on any touch device.

          Personally, I think the touch is just a new hype. It has its place

        • Touch is currently horrendous for producing or modifying content.

          Tell that to painters, or musicians. Touch is far superior for CREATION in those cases.

          The world of creation and editing is not limited to words.

          • by narcc (412956)

            +5 Funny!

            Finger painters are artists and the play-by-ear set are musicians!

      • by gtall (79522)

        And touch fills my screen with fingerprints...if I can bother to reach the 3 feet away it is from my keyboard.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by wicka_wicka (679279)
      Have you actually tried using Windows 8? It's still very easy to navigate the new UI with a keyboard and mouse. They've adapted a lot of old hotkeys/shortcuts to Metro and added a few new ones. After about 15 minutes I felt nearly as productive as I normally am in Windows 7.
      • by danomac (1032160) on Tuesday October 23, 2012 @11:42AM (#41740871)

        Yes, I have. Well, not exactly Windows 8, but Windows Server 2012, which is the same interface.

        It took me 15 minutes to figure out where Windows Update was. This is a server and doesn't need a stupid touch interface that makes it impossible to find sysadmin tasks. If anything, it should be an option on RDP servers, and that's it.

        I really wonder what the hell the devs were smoking when they put a touch interface on a server.

        Tip: Use the bottom-right corner of your screen to find the search tool. Instead of clicking the Windows button and typing a search string. Oh yeah, the interface is so much better now. [/sarcasm]

        • by chthon (580889)

          They weren't smoking anything. They were told to do it, in order to provide a consistent interface across all Windows.

          I know from experience that there are processes which look like each other superficially. Management then wants to push a unified interface. The domain where I met this problem was in doing the version control for a product and its associated subsystems. These are developed separately. The integration phase (product) is just different from the development phase (subsystems). However, there

        • by cbhacking (979169)

          It took you 15 minutes to type "upd" while on the Start screen? Dear $DEITY, I hope you aren't managing anything important anywhere, if your idea of how to interact with a computer is stuck in the last decade...

        • by Waccoon (1186667)

          And to think that some people consider just putting a video card into a server is sacrilege.

          • by danomac (1032160)

            Over the next umpteen years there's a good chance that I will not be the only one administering these servers. While I can use (and like) Powershell, the next person to come along may not care to use it and use the GUI, depending on what they're using.

            I'm not forcing my own tastes down the organization's throat. I'm keeping in mind the long term usability for others administering the server, not just my personal preferences.

      • It's still very easy to navigate the new UI with a keyboard and mouse.

        How about just a mouse? I didn't think so, if you want to get stuff done as quick as windows 7 you have to short cut somewhere, on the desktop or in metro, or you have to use a quick key. The mouse travel distance in metro is just awful. Right clicking to see all your apps where you have to travel from the left to the right side of the screen is just bad design, why isn't 'all apps' also on the left hand side?

        It's not that W8 is broken, or that it doesn't work. It's that bad design pisses off users who are

    • by na1led (1030470)
      Keyboard/Mouse and Touchscreens can work together if it's done right. With tablet laptops, and touchscreen All in 1 PC's, it can be convenient to use both. Problem with Windows 8, the touch part only works well with Metro, not the standard desktop. Try using a touchscreen with the standard desktop browser, it doesn't work.
  • by tverbeek (457094) on Tuesday October 23, 2012 @10:42AM (#41740301) Homepage

    It's ironic that the guy who was telling us a decade ago that tablets (with styluses) were the future of personal computing, is now such a big fan of the mouse and keyboard.

    Each input method (touch, stylus, mouse, keyboard) has its uses. Different devices need different methods.

  • by OldKingCole (2672649) on Tuesday October 23, 2012 @11:00AM (#41740319)

    Maybe for Microsoft's survival.

    The surface ARM is no more than another netbook (remember those? TABLETS replaced them), and the surface x86 version is just another ultra portable with touch screen support.

    As far as Window 8 is concerned, Microsoft is used to shoving its products by leveraging its monopoly in the OEM market. The case with mobile devices however is very different. Microsoft HAS to prove Windows 8 is worth all the fuss (comparing to existing Android and iOS), with the only advantage (which is yet to be tested) of having apps for your Windows based x86 share information with their ARM counterparts (please spare the build-once for both platforms BS). This synchronization may have been a killer app in the early mobile device days, but today information is synchronized across all platforms quite easily.

    Microsoft is definitely all-in on this one, if people adopt Windows 8 as a mobile OS, we may very well see Windows taking over the mobile devices market. If it won't, it's only a matter of time until desktop OS's (or at least Windows OS for most desktops) is obsolete, and so will be Microsoft.

    Only time will tell, but my money is on a colossal failure for Microsoft

    • I still am far from convinced that netbooks were killed by tablets. IMO they were dying out before the ipad was released, due to manufacturers not realizing why most of them sold. Note this is my limited experience of working in retail showed a different story (admittedly an unscientific very small sample size). In general 95% of the time I saw a netbook sell, it was as a cheap equivelant of a laptop. IE people wanting a nice $150-$200 device to take notes in class to do basic notetaking etc... If someone w
    • Microsoft is definitely all-in on this one, if people adopt Windows 8 as a mobile OS, we may very well see Windows taking over the mobile devices market. If it won't, it's only a matter of time until desktop OS's (or at least Windows OS for most desktops) is obsolete, and so will be Microsoft. Only time will tell, but my money is on a colossal failure for Microsoft

      This sounds plausible, except Microsoft will not fail so much as change, though perhaps with far less profit. Somewhat like Apple, Windows 8 looks like the largest desktop O/S is moving toward the computer as appliance. This suggests two things:

      1) A trend to very slowly reduce the popularity of general purpose computers, shifting people to limited-task devices.
      2) Year of the Linux desktop jokes aside, we really could be headed toward Linux/BSD as the main traditional desktop O/S. Not because of advertisin

    • by narcc (412956)

      The only real problem I see is that Metro apps can only be distributed through the Windows Store.

      This will hurt them badly.

      Direct from MS:

      Any developer who builds these apps, must have a Developers License and each app must go through a certification process and be validated before being placed in the Windows Store. If you are an Enterprise customer, you can SideLoad Apps, but these must also be certified nad can only be used with a special product key that is available to Enterprise customers.

      If they have any sense at all, they'll reverse this in short order.

  • by concealment (2447304) on Tuesday October 23, 2012 @11:01AM (#41740321) Homepage Journal

    After that anti-trust investigation and suit in the 1990s, Microsoft has been waiting for other companies to take innovative steps so that it can adopt them later. The Apple "app store" was a boon to Microsoft, as they couldn't have done it on their own without ending up back in court.

    What's come of this is an intelligent strategy. They are essentially reviving an older strategy [arstechnica.com] for making a standardized interface, which will allow developers and users more ability to mix-and-match interface components.

    It's also intelligent to sneak away from the venerable win32 and make a gift to developers, which is one platform for mobile, desktop and any other form of computing (knowing Gates: smart house and smart agents) that will arise.

    While I have my doubts about the Fisher-Price interface as well, I also felt this way about the "new" desktop in Windows XP. It'll be great to see Microsoft restoring some competition to the world of computing with this new strategy.

    • More like a trojan horse for developers. Microsoft's decision to make WinRT-based apps appstore-only is a total deal breaker. There is no way I am going to write applications that I am not allowed to sell directly to the user. There is no way any user with half a brain would make himself dependent on an application that can only be installed through the appstore. Those are strings, Pinocchio, and if you voluntarily attach them to yourself or your business, you will get exactly what you deserve.

      • Just host the .APPX file on your website, and give the user instructions on sideloading it. It's quite easy, actually, although they do have to enable sideloading first (a single Powershell command).

        You'll probably make a hell of a lot more money selling through the Windows store than you will selling through your own site, or through traditional retail channels, of course. But you aren't *unable* to sell through those channels. It's just going to have less exposure to the users and require a less intuitive

        • by Chemisor (97276)

          Just host the .APPX file on your website, and give the user instructions on sideloading it. It's quite easy, actually, although they do have to enable sideloading first (a single Powershell command).

          Not for everybody. According to Microsoft, sideloading [microsoft.com] is only available on Windows 8 Enterprise, and Windows Server 2012, and only if the computer in question is joined to a domain. While it is standard practice to set up an internal domain at large corporations, a small business or a home user never do that. I

    • by sribe (304414) on Tuesday October 23, 2012 @11:53AM (#41741043)

      After that anti-trust investigation and suit in the 1990s, Microsoft has been waiting for other companies to take innovative steps so that it can adopt them later.

      Microsoft was doing that long before that antitrust action.

  • by DickBreath (207180) on Tuesday October 23, 2012 @11:05AM (#41740345) Homepage
    Bill Gates

    'People want to consume their mail, reading, video anywhere, and they want it to be awfully simple,'

    I think he meant to say 'simply awful'.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 23, 2012 @11:10AM (#41740389)

    who doesnt want to put fingerprints all over my freaking monitor?

    • by garcia (6573)

      I found myself trying to scroll my laptop screen regularly with my fingers and then I got the MBP and now I'm able to do it on my touchpad.

      FWIW, I hate smudges on my screen.

    • by Mashdar (876825)

      who doesnt want to put fingerprints all over my freaking monitor?

      I was going to make a comment about smudges on your smart phone... But I guess it's a lot easier to wipe your phone on your pant leg.
      (Attempts to wipe monitor with shirt. Breaks shirt, office dress code.)

    • You're not alone, I cringe when my girlfriend touches my monitor to point out something to me as it is. My screen cleaner and soft cloth are on permanent stand by!

      The idea of my main high-res monitor (which I use for both productivity and gaming) being as grease covered as my phone really does make me cringe. My retina display has cataracts! (yes I know retina is an Apple brand but I'm sure you get my point)

  • ... by Gates comments, until he checks apples share price, valuation and performance compared to Microsoft. Then he'll just laugh and go back to practicing his golf swing.

  • Oh, Billy... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday October 23, 2012 @11:17AM (#41740487) Journal

    " 'It's evolving literally to be a single platform,' he said, referring to how Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 share a kernel, file system, graphics support, and other elements. At least in theory, that will allow developers to port apps from the desktop/tablet OS to the smartphone OS with relatively little work."

    Hasn't Gates been chasing the dream of one Windows to rule them all for something like two decades now? The line of 'Handheld PC' and 'Pocket PC' devices didn't share as much low level architecture, because the hardware wouldn't permit it at the time; but did everything they could to drag a desktop UI onto a teeny touchscreen, and 'tablet' meant getting Windows for Pen Computing 1.0 with your Win3.1 back when meteorites were still mopping up the last of the dinosaurs....

    • They used to matter when he ran Microsoft.

      Granted, his biggest decisions were usually taken to catch up to the market, not lead it - witness Windows 95 and the "focus on the internet".

      Also, his track record on predicting the future is lousy - witness Microsoft Bob and "The Road Ahead".

  • I'm just ordering the parts to build another Windows PC for gaming. I'll need one eventually, and with Windows 7 vanishing soon I don't want to be stuck with an 'awfully simple' OS.

    At current Windows release rates, hopefully a box built with high-end parts today will last at least until Windows 10.

  • by linebackn (131821) on Tuesday October 23, 2012 @11:28AM (#41740641)

    The summary puts "touch" and "future" together as if touch is a new thing.

    Look up the HP 150. This was a desktop computer with a touch screen back in 1983. I'm sure Bill Gates saw this at the 1983 Comdex - a few booths down MS was demonstrating a vaporware product called "Windows". There are reasons we don't waste our money on touch screens for desktop computers, and they were all hashed out a long time ago. But somehow touch screens are magically new and the old reasons magically don't exist any more.

    • by na1led (1030470)
      That technology was used in Kiosks all around the world, mainly ATM machines. I would say that was a big success back then.
  • In the same league as the announcement of the iPhone's curated app ecosystem. Today was the day that mainstream computing officially set a course for curation.

  • Gates: But you want to incorporate touch without giving up the kind of mouse, keyboard capability that's just so natural in most settings.

    So what does Microsoft do with Windows 8? Remove the ability to easily use a keyboard and mouse with the OS.

  • by DigiShaman (671371) on Tuesday October 23, 2012 @11:58AM (#41741131) Homepage

    Businesses require an OS with applications that allow for interactivity including ease of multi-tasking. The idea of an OS geared toward uni-tasked pipelined user consumption is only a one-way street. I knew it was bad, but having Bill Gates endorsement this paradigm is the final nail in the coffin.

    From my POV, Microsoft Office 365 and VM'ed instances of Server 2012 is the only thing they have worth offering. The client side OS and computing platform paradigm is the antithesis of corporate productivity. Clearly they're abandoning this market segment. Either intentionally or not is irrelevant at this point.

    • It is intentional. We are entering the age of consumer driven technology development. Even Microsoft is betting on the BYOD bandwagon.

      The problem is, and it's going to take considerable time taking the wrong road to understand, consumers do not know what is right or wrong for the task at hand. We are abandoning working tool sets for barely usable tech, and every new gadget manufacturer assumes that the influx of new users of that device is going to overshadow legacy users. Steven Jobs had a knack for doing

  • by QuietLagoon (813062) on Tuesday October 23, 2012 @11:58AM (#41741133)
    Wasn't Bill Gates the industry visionary who wrote a book about the future of computing and downplayed the Internet? Wasn't Bill Gates the technology visionary at Microsoft who caused Microsoft to miss the onslaught of the Internet, resulting in Microsoft having to scramble to catch up (some might say they never caught up)?

    .
    Is this the same Bill Gates who is once again talking about what the future brings?

  • 'It's evolving literally to be a single platform,'

    It's a floor wax and a dessert topping!

  • I'm not sure touch interfaces are such a great idea. We risk oblivion if we ignore Douglas Adams' dire warning.
  • He still needs to accept some responsibility for this turd.
  • Let me see. He's talking about 1 OS that can run any app from any device that runs that OS. Doesn't matter the CPU, just the OS.

    Damn, Linux should of done that.

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