Home > Microsoft > Time for a pen-first Microsoft OS (and it should be open source) Time for a pen-first Microsoft OS (and it should be open source) David Adams 2016-08-15 Microsoft 9 Comments On the eve of launch of the latest generation of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 we are reminded once again of Microsoft’s failed Courier project, which was one of the first to propose a pen-first operating system. About The Author David Adams Follow me on Twitter @david_adams 9 Comments 2016-08-15 10:09 pm ssokolow Dear god, I hope that whole “Given that for work the pen preceded the keyboard and mouse clearly anything that can be done with one can be done with the other” attitude is an artifact of the pre-Internet generation and not a UX downgrade like the NewCLI… err… gestural paradigm’s lack of discoverability. I’ve never been able to get over the “habitually grip the pen too tightly + writing = cramping” problem that many left-handed people develop and, when I do use a pen to sketch UI concepts, I rely heavily on the fact that pencil+paper gives me greater friction than any tablet I’ve tried (even the USB-attached “paper-like surface” ones Wacom offers), which really helps my fine motor control when drawing. Even with that aside and forced to write essays on paper for exams, the complex motions of writing are much slower than typing and the mechanical task of actually writing with a pen dominates my attention too much, preventing me from shifting into my writing mindset. There’s a reason the only mobile device I use regularly (other than my old sonly PRS-505 eReader) has a pocketable QWERTY keyboard. Edited 2016-08-15 22:10 UTC 2016-08-16 2:08 am leech There’s a reason the only mobile device I use regularly (other than my old sonly PRS-505 eReader) has a pocketable QWERTY keyboard. Did you see that there is a qwerty keyboard attachment for the Note 7? I pre-ordered mine, and am really tempted to get the keyboard. http://www.letstango.com/product/samsung-qwerty-keyboard-cover-for-… 2016-08-16 8:48 am avgalen Given that for work the pen preceded the keyboard and mouse clearly anything that can be done with one can be done with the other. [/q] Given that for work the horse preceded the truck clearly anything that can be done with one can be done with the other…because the work that needs to be done never changed and we don’t care about efficiency! Pen is just another input device just like touch is. It is better sometimes and worse other times. but due to the features being tacked on they tend to be rarely used. these features are rarely used because most people don’t have a pen, duh! When people do have one they either tend to love it and incorporate it into their workflow or leave it in their bag. (anecdotal evidence is anecdotal ) [q]Of course the market for such a radical departure from the WIMP user interface will initially be small, which is why it should be Microsoftâ€™s first open source operating system, running as a layer on Windows 10. Operating systems don’t run as layers on top of Windows 10. The closest thing to this would be a subsystem like they added for Linux or a virtual OS. The direction Microsoft has taken seems to make more sense: Generalize mouse/touch/pen into “input” and make apps work well with all “input” devices. Also, Courier was still basically WIMP and so are almost all of the examples in the article. Even HoloLens is basically WIMP. WIMP has proven to be very productive and very flexible. Extending WIMP with gestures and voicecommands seems a lot more sensible than replacing WIMP with….future visions? 2016-08-16 10:02 am ssokolow Did you see that there is a qwerty keyboard attachment for the Note 7? I pre-ordered mine, and am really tempted to get the keyboard. Judging by the photos, the shape of that case is fixed… making the phone even longer seems awkward to me. I wish they’d made it thicker and made the keyboard a slider instead. That aside, I avoid having mobile connectivity by choice (expense, being always bother-able, etc.) and I don’t like the MacOS-esque “nearly everything you want is shareware” feel of the Android ecosystem, so I use an OpenPandora now and plan to use a Pyra once it’s out. http://openpandora.org/ https://pyra-handheld.com/ (Basically the same size and shape as an original Nintendo DS, but with the same “runs X11/Linux and everything is open except the GPU driver” situation as my desktop PC. The thumbsticks are configured to act sort of like an IBM TouchPoint III mouse when not in a game.) Edited 2016-08-16 10:05 UTC 2016-08-16 2:50 pm dionicio Love that thing the moment I saw an spiral on it. Hope they optimize enough for the format size and add pen input. 2016-08-16 3:22 pm ssokolow Love that thing the moment I saw an spiral on it. Hope they optimize enough for the format size and add pen input. As an OpenPandora owner and someone who’s been following the Pyra development closely, here’s what I can tell you: Both the OpenPandora and the Pyra have resistive touch screens and include styluses. (Resistive to maximize accuracy for users like me who choose to run the Xfce desktop option, but the Pyra’s is apparently smart enough to fake multitouch sufficiently for pinch-zoom.) Beyond that, you can run Android on the OpenPandora (and I’d assume the Pyra will follow suit), the bootloader supports booting off an SD card (optionally automatically as I do) so it’s easy to swap if you so choose, and there’s strong community pressure for PND-packaged apps to adhere to certain conventions, like pre-configuring the keybinds to work intuitively with the gaming controls. (eg. Allowing users to confirm a choice with the gaming button that would be A or B, depending on whether you’re looking at a 360 controller or a SNES controller.) The desktop Linux OpenPandora firmware also comes with your choice of a mobile/console-esque application launcher or Xfce with custom panel widgets and control panels. While the Pyra will be Debian-based and, thus, support all of the Debian ARM packages you want, it’ll also remain compatible with the OpenPandora’s PND packages, which use a disk-image+overlayfs mechanism to give MacOS-like “just drop it into the right folder on your SD card and go” application installation on the Pandora. I prefer to manually download my packages and then sync from my backup image to “production” but there’s also an app similar to F-Droid for installing and updating PNDs directly. The keyboard for the Pyra was designed based heavily on community feedback and makes use of the gaming controls for efficient and intuitive input. (ie. ABXY are Page Up/Down and Home/End in the positions you’d expect, the D-Pad is your arrow keys, and the shoulder buttons are Ctrl/Alt/Super/Fn so you can thumb-type any symbol on the keyboard. There’s also a Compose key.) As for the mouse, I was a die-hard fan of the TouchPoint micro-joysticks in IBM ThinkPad laptops back when I used full-sized laptops and I find the joystick-based option for moving the mouse on the OpenPandora acceptable… if limited by the sticks they could choose from when they spec’d them in 2008. (Apparently the Pyra’s sticks are far superior) Beyond that, it’s on you to choose applications that meet your desired workflow. The Pyra will also be able to output 1080p via micro-HDMI if you want to plug into your hotel’s TV and pull out a bluetooth mouse and keyboard for a desktop-like experience on the go. (ie. the Jorno folding keyboard) Edited 2016-08-16 15:23 UTC 2016-08-16 3:41 pm dionicio I used to use an 8″ Acer One at that same configuration of your link, ssokolow. Down to that XFCE blue desktop background! 2 blue ray ISO install images on USB storage mounted for all the repository available on the ‘wild’ side. SSD upgraded. WiFi card out. GPS, Blue Tooth-less! [Pre UEFI, by the way] Gosh! Anathema! Anathema! 2016-08-16 3:01 pm dionicio Maybe some hand held scanner at one of Pyra’s edges, could prove more useful than pen input. [It’s a Pandora’s box!]. 2016-08-16 2:35 pm dionicio Microsoft could win, both young and old, by fixing a decades stable pen user interface. Of course, its just my point of view.