Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 1st Sep 2012 21:15 UTC
Windows The Verge published a video demonstrating how desktop mode and Office 2013 - a desktop application - work on Windows RT, the ARM version of Windows 8. The video showed a desktop mode that clearly didn't work well for touch, and even Office 2013, which has a rudimentary touch mode built-in, didn't work properly either. It looked and felt clunky, often didn't respond properly, and even showed touch lag.
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Windows touchscreen confusion
by aftermath on Sun 2nd Sep 2012 01:06 UTC
aftermath
Member since:
2010-10-29

It's very important to understand that a technology like a passive digitizer is just one form of touchscreen technology. There are others. Thus, the claim of complete touch-unfriendliness on the basis of how well a passive digitizer is supported is not very rational or sincere. Active digitizers, like those provided by Wacom, are another form of touchscreen technology, and from my experience, Windows 8 desktop mode and Office 2013 makes better use of these types of touchscreens than any other operating system of software. I guess it's convenient to pretend that things like handwriting recognition aren't driven by touchscreens if it fits an agenda of discounting Windows on touchscreens (or a perhaps just lifestyle of general intellectual carelessness), but it's not accurate.

It's also very important to understand the relationship between the DPI of your desktop environment and the PPI of your display panel when making use of human fingers on a slate Traditionally, Windows has defaulted to 96 DPI which is LOWER than the PPI of most display panels. The "PI" in both of these settings stands for "Per Inch". When your DPI is lower than your PPI, you are lying to your operating system. You are telling it to use fewer pixels to render an inch worth of graphics than are actually required for your panel to display it. This is why fonts "appear smaller" when you drop the DPI. You have mislead your operating system, convincing it to under-deliver. If instead you set your DPI to a value higher than the PPI of your display panel, then you are telling a different lie. You are forcing your operating system to render an inch worth of graphics using more pixels than your panel has available in an actual inch. Thus, graphics take up more room on your panel than they otherwise would.

Most people who complain about the "touch friendliness" of the Windows desktop and its applications are completely ignorant of the above issues. You can't in good faith allow the operating system to render an inch worth of graphics using fewer pixels than your display needs, thus creating smaller physical targets on your screen than there should be, and then complain about the results. Sure, Windows should do a better job of taking care of this, and Microsoft should do a better job of educating people on the issues (as we all should). Still, I can't imagine a website that reviews cars complaining about how terrible the driving experience was because the car was delivered with the parking brake engaged, and they just never bothered to change that before getting started. Car reviewers aren't that stupid, but today's technology reviewers are (which is probably true because today's technology consumers are a relative idiots when it comes to technology).

As a veteran of tablet computing (as in actual tablet computing, as in using actual tablet input hardware in actual tablet usage scenarios with actual operating system and software support, and not the stupid little touchscreen slates that gadget noobs and tech shopping sites call "tablets), I can assure anybody who will listen that setting the DPI of your operating system equal to the PPI of your panel will result in a highly useful, satisfying, and finger friendly experience in the traditional Windows desktop. In fact, cranking up the DPI to something above parity does an even better job of this. Even if you disagree with my claims after doing so, you will at least put yourself in a position to have your complaints be taken seriously (since you at least removed the parking brake before whining about the car).

Microsoft would be wise to provide a "quick DPI boost toggle" button somewhere in the user interface that would switch between a low-dpi "mouse and keyboard" mode and an equal/high-dpi "touchscreen mode". The old Sony Vaio P series, with it's 1600x768 panel squeezed into an 8 inch horizontal, had a hardware button that did exactly this, although it was offered in the spirit of providing greater readability. In fact, given that many slates are used more for content consumption than for creation, a "quick DPI boost toggle", would be doubly useful: enhancing readability and touch-ability.

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