PC operating systems need to get touchy

PC operating systems need to get touchy

Summary: Are we on to a path where we have a mobile operating system riding shotgun with more traditional ones? Picture Mac OSX with iOS. Windows with Windows Phone 7. Dual OS pairings may not be elegant.

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The touchscreen has altered computing to the point where it's hard not to try and swipe any screen you see. The problem: PC operating systems aren't built well for touch. That situation needs to change pronto.

Patently Apple has uncovered a iMac Touch patent published in Europe. In a nutshell, the iMac could turn into a touch driven computer depending on the screen orientation.

Naturally, this iMac user interface has generated a good bit of buzz, but here's the part of the conversation that's most notable via Patently Apple:

Apple's method of transitioning from OS X to iOS is clearly outlined for both the iMac and MacBook – and it's a grand slam home run. Imagine having an iMac on your desktop one minute and a gigantic iPad the next. Imagine playing iGames on this dream machine - Wow! Imagine reading a double-page book on this - Unbelievable! Apple takes the mystery out of how OS X could finally co-exist with iOS on a Mac and you've got to see this one to believe it.

It's not hard to see a day where you use both the mouse and the touch user interface, but it strikes me as a bit odd that there needs to be two operating systems to pull off such a trick. Are we on to a path where we have a mobile operating system riding shotgun with more industrial ones? Picture Mac OSX with iOS. Windows with Windows Phone 7. Google's emerging Chrome OS with Android. These dual OS pairings are nice, but the solution isn't exactly elegant.

Jason O'Grady: iOS: Coming soon to Mac OS 11?

We're seeing a computing set-up where there are touch haves (mobile operating systems like iOS, Android and HP's WebOS) and have nots (Windows, Mac OSX). Now there are limitations to the mobile operating systems, but they seem to be driving the tablet designs. In the big picture, I'd want to alternate between touch and a mouse without twisting a screen around. PC operating systems---which in theory can accommodate touch somewhat already---need to step up before they begin to look like relics.

Related: Ubuntu's multitouch move: Will it bolster adoption?

Topics: Software, Apple, Hardware, Operating Systems

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23 comments
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  • I beg to differ

    [i]The touchscreen has altered computing to the point where it?s hard not to try and swipe any screen you see. The problem: PC operating systems aren?t built well for touch. That situation needs to change pronto.[/i]

    Windows has support for touch, and as someone who uses a touchscreen netbook quite regularly, I can say it works quite well, as demonstrated here:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WBtEhQqS1dw

    Ubuntu will have support as well next release.

    But if you are suggesting I clutter my PC with a useless mobile OS, then I would disagree. The "there is an app for that" craze can stay on the smartphone.
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • RE: PC operating systems need to get touchy

      That "craze" is why I now use my iPhone more than my Windows laptop. There *is* an app for the things I want and need to do. And most of the time, the apps do it quite well: maps, weather, facebook, email, etc. That doesn't mean I don't need my PC. Can't run my IDE on the iPhone, do extensive typing of documents and so on. But why disparage mobile as a "craze"? I'd submit it's a "craze" only because of a high degree of utility and usability. Something so functional is not a craze, sir.
      Techboy_z
    • RE: PC operating systems need to get touchy

      @NStalnecker
      I am using touch on my Gigabyte T1028X using Kubuntu 4.5 Netbook and Desktop versions.
      There is no gesturing at the moment.

      Regards,
      ScottyJavea
      ScottyJavea
    • RE: PC operating systems need to get touchy

      @NStalnecker [b]
      But if you are suggesting I clutter my PC with a useless mobile OS, then I would disagree. The "there is an app for that" craze can stay on the smartphone. [/b]

      Well said! I do like my apps but while they are just fine for a mobile phone I just don't see the need for them on my desktop or laptop - "there are widgets for that" after all.
      athynz
    • I beg that you beg

      @NStalnecker, you seem stuck in the 90s and doing things the 90s way. Are you sure you're a college student? Or are you Rip Van Winkle that's slept in for the last 10 years?<br><br>Mobile computing is in. Accept it. Deal with it. Lightweight, portable computing devices are the future. Being tethered to a desktop mouse & keyboard all the time belongs in a museum.
      ahh so
  • Touch lacks precision

    Most times we need a precision that only a device like a mouse or a trackball can handle. It's almost impossible to not to get "fat fingers" on a touch device and touch things that were not intended.
    happyharry_z
  • RE: PC operating systems need to get touchy

    [i]The touchscreen has altered computing to the point where it?s hard not to try and swipe any screen you see.[/i]

    For me its easy not to swipe. I find touching and swiping and gestures to be a pain.
    Loverock Davidson
    • RE: PC operating systems need to get touchy

      @Loverock Davidson

      And you know mommy & daddy told you to keep your safety helmet on while doing that. Right?<br><br> ;)
      ahh so
  • RE: PC operating systems need to get touchy

    What I heard:

    "After years of using pickup trucks someone has invented the motorcycle. All pickup truck manufacturers need to attach a motorcycle to their pickup trucks pronto to stay competitive."

    Right now 99% of the "touch OSes" are point-and-click with a finger instead of a mouse. In a non-mobile situation, why not just use the more-precise, faster, doesn't-smudge-my-screen, more-ergonomic mouse?

    Maybe one day, multi-touch gesturing will come of age where it is useful, but I see that coming more of the Kinect route than touch-screen.
    SlithyTove
  • RE: PC operating systems need to get touchy

    Exactly what is the point? You aren't going to get serious work done with touch, and those cheesy touch games are only popular on the phone because they lack any decent input (it's hard to play a game when your fat fingers are constantly blocking the view). So, please tell me what real itch this is scratching. Didn't get your fill of farting apps on the phone?
    Rabayn
  • Think First

    "Imagine reading a double-page book on this - Unbelievable!" Yeah, I always read my books sitting at a desk with a large screen in a funny angle in front of me. I'm sure there are good uses for touch on the desktop, but I doubt there'll be many people that'll use it for reading on an iMac.
    dunraven
  • RE: PC operating systems need to get touchy

    Windows 7 is already there, with built in support for multitouch.

    "Imagine playing iGames on this dream machine - Wow!"

    Bleh. Touch is nice for some games, but it really depends on the type of game. A lot of games are still far better with a keyboard/mouse or other type of controller.

    "and have nots (Windows, Mac OSX)"

    Wrong. Windows has touch.
    CobraA1
    • RE: PC operating systems need to get touchy

      @CobraA1
      Agreed...

      http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/magazine/ee336016.aspx
      audidiablo
  • RE: PC operating systems need to get touchy

    Quite frankly I think Apple is just fooling their user base with using BIG WORDS TO EXCITE iTARDS! Touch can be a nice bonus but at the same time it is nothing new. Touch screens have been around for ages such as Elo-Touch. Most games on the iPad/iTouch/iSuck line are entertaining for about 5 or maybe 10 minutes before you forget that you ever cared. People like rich full games like FPS or RTS games. Imagine playing Call of Duty with a touch screen or Starcraft II... Umm can we say fail?
    audidiablo
    • RE: PC operating systems need to get touchy

      @audidiablo <br><br>Apparently there's a whole class of new *social* gamers addicted to games like farmville that could care less what you have to say lol. <br><br>Listen there are games that's obviously not going to work well on the touch screens, and there are others that's perfectly suited for touch With hours of entertainment. (there are some better suited than mouse that I've played like Virtual Pool, which originated on the PC).
      dave95.
      • Farmville needs to die!

        @dave95.

        It drives absolutely nuts. Heck, anything made by Zynga does.
        The one and only, Cylon Centurion
      • RE: PC operating systems need to get touchy

        @NStalnecker

        Agreed. But doesn't look like that will happen anytime soon. Google just purchased a stake in Zynga so we better get used to it lol.
        dave95.
  • RE: PC operating systems need to get touchy

    I prefer the tactile feedback from a keyboard and always will, especially on a bad day when it becomes a 'finger punchbag' to work out on. Try that with a touch screen and you'll have bruised fingers & a very annoyed hardware budget manager.
    AndyPagin
  • There's a use for dual OS's

    First off the farm factor will always dictate the use case. For instance I don't need a tablet form factor when I need to do heavy graphical work, that requires dual fans and beefy graphic cards. I grab my laptop or load-up the desktop. <br><br>Conversely, I don't need a clunky laptop when I want to read in bed, or curl up on the couch and surf the web, consume information and enjoy entertainment (games, music, social etc). My tablet form factor (iPad) is perfectly suitable for this. <br><br>For over a decade, Microsoft have tried to convince consumers that all we needed was <b>one</b> full-blown Win OS for use in <b>all</b> our form factors. Mobile phones, PDA's, tablet PC's and laptop/desktop. Now seems like they've rejected the idea that a desktop OS metaphor should be shoehorned into mobile phones (thanks to the iPhone). They still haven't figured out what consumers really want with tablets yet (after a decade) but they will be forced to soon. A desktop OS built for mouse input with gimmicky secondary touch capability layerd ontop is not it for tablets. You have to pick one Microsoft. <br><br>This patent is very promising. For one it will give current iOS developers a new user-base to target, large screen Macs. Seems like Apple is really looking after its developers (iPhone/iPod Touch/iAd/iPad/iMac....iTV?). But the key difference here is it's transitioning from one OS to the other based on the use case.
    dave95.
  • RE: PC operating systems need to get touchy

    OSX/iOS in iPad 2. Enough said!
    jortiz@...