Intel: Windows 8 to drive laptops with touch screens

Intel: Windows 8 to drive laptops with touch screens

Summary: Intel is betting on the Metro interface in Windows 8 to help drive the production of laptops with touch screens.


The Metro interface in Windows 8 is a unique departure for Microsoft, and garners a strong reaction from those who try it. The interface consisting of colorful tiles is tailor-made for touch operation, and both Microsoft and Intel are expecting lots of tablets to hit the market.

Tablets are not the only focus for Windows 8 according to Intel. The company expects to see laptops appearing in numbers with touch screens to take advantage of the Metro interface. Intel is even recommending its partners consider building them to fully leverage the new Windows 8 user experience.

There is little doubt Intel is trying to build excitement for Windows 8. Its business depends on getting customers excited about the next big thing, after all. The promotion of clamshell laptops with touch screens is intriguing, though, as they have never done that well in the market.

Convertible notebooks have been around for years, with touch screens, and touch hasn't brought much to the party. While rotating screens make the touch screen into a tablet configuration, pure clamshell configurations aren't comfortable to use by touch. Constantly reaching across the keyboard to manipulate the screen directly is tiring over time.

It's too early to tell if Intel/ Microsoft will be successful in convincing buyers to go touch with Ultrabooks. It will bear watching to see if Metro is a selling point good enough to make consumers want to touch their laptops.

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Topics: Intel, Hardware, Laptops, Microsoft, Mobility, Operating Systems, Software, Windows

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  • I'm sorry...

    "While rotating screens make the touch screen into a table configuration, pure clamshell configurations aren???t comfortable to use by touch. Constantly reaching across the keyboard to manipulate the screen directly is tiring over time."

    Isn't this what you're doing with your iPad right now? Judging by the pictures you constantly post of it.
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • Size is the difference

      The keyboard in use with the iPad is so small that reaching for the iPad touch screen is very natural. On laptops I've used the bigger unit means reaching further for the screen, and that gets very tiring over time. YMMV.
      • Are you joking?

        Serious question James, do you honestly expect us to believe what you just wrote?

        The distance I keep both my laptop built in keyboard, my external PC keyboard, and my iPad when I'm using a keyboard (I too have the Logitech Zagg iPad keyboard case) has nothing to do with how big the keyboard is and everything to do with how long my arms are. Even though I could type on my iPad with the keyboard shoved right up against my stomach, bringing the screen closer than I could with a laptop, that would be a grossly uncomfortable position to type in. I could bring my PC keyboard just as close as I could my iPad keyboard but I don't, that wouldn't be comfortable. I, like every other person who doesn't have a vested interest in this fight, type with my hands the same distance away, no matter the size of the keyboard. I move the keyboard away to a position that is comfortable for typing. The screen on my iPad is no closer than the screen on my laptop because bringing the iPad closer would make it uncomfortable to type on. And if you believe that YMMV means that you get a pass, I'd like for you to show us pictures of how you type when you are on the iPad. If the iPad isn't pushed right up against your stomach, you just lost the YMMV.

        You have been caught James. You have been going on for weeks about how perfect your touchscreen laptop is because it was made by Apple. Now you claim that very same ergonomic layout is "tiring" when made by a an MS OEM.

        It would be nice if you would apologize for this.
      • No apologies

        @toddbottom3 Full-sized laptops put the screen farther away than netbooks or yes, tablets with small keyboards. My observations are based on actual usage, no hidden agenda as you suggest.
      • Forgive me James but your using a Keyboard on an iPad is ...

        ... kind of a "cheat" for someone evaluating the technology people are actually buying and using. That said, it does point to the need for a Windows "convertible" (at a competitive price-point) to fulfill the desire for a physical keyboard. By using a keyboard with your iPad, you have addressed two major concerns with tablets.

        1) Tablets require one-handed typing since the other is holding the device.

        2) If you put the tablet down, the screen angle (or the keyboard angle) is never quite right.

        You have solved both problems - and effectively turned your iPad into a netbook. That's not what most people do.

        Personally, I would not put a touchscreen on a laptop/netbook - though I think the idea of a Windows tablet with a "physical keyboard" accessory (such as what you have done with your iPad) is an attractive solution which is almost as good as the Windows convertible approach (and is probably much less expensive).
        M Wagner
      • Let's see the pictures then

        Please James, we want to see a picture of you using your iPad. Make sure that it is right up against your stomach so we can see how comfortable your typing position is.

        I seriously can't believe you wrote this:
        "Constantly reaching across the keyboard to manipulate the screen directly is tiring over time."
      • Not a compelling argument

        I think Win8 on touchscreen laptops is proabably a non-starter, but not because you have to reach too far to touch the screen! It's not going to catch fire because the Windows 8 user experience stinks.

        The differences between the Metro and Aero interfaces are jarring. It really feels like you're using two different systems. Even Internet Explorer gives you two completely different browsing experiences. It's terrible.

        The integration between the two is ... what's the opposite of seamless? Seamful? Whatever the word is, it's bad. Did MS engineers deliberately try to make Aero icons look as awful as possible on the Metro desktop?

        The shame of it is MS actually has interesting ideas. The Metro Start screen could have been a useful and seamless update to the Start menu of the past. Instead, it's a bolted-on mess. With slight tweaks to what they already have in Win8, MS could have really come up with something good. Pushing integrated Kinect (rather than touchscreens) with laptops and desktops, they could have pushed personal computing ahead five to ten years.

        Instead they gave us a big ugly pile of meh.
      • Hey James

        My daughter has a Gateway all in one touch screen. When I use it I just take the keyboard, with its long cord, and set it to the side and use touch. Trying to convince her to let me put Windows 8 preview on it, but she works from home sometimes and aren't sure how it will mesh with her office systems. Not uncomfortable at all!!
  • OEMs should never build laptops with touch which are not convertible

    I think it would be a disaster if OEMs built laptops with touch screens, which aren't convertible. OEMs could do a lot of harm to the Windows 8 user experience - as a lot of people experience the gorilla arm syndrome. If OEMs are going to place touch screens onto their laptops, they might as well go one step further, and add the ability to swivel the screens into a tablet form factor. Half-baked experiences are primarily what made the Tablet PC form factor tank before.
    P. Douglas
    • While I agree with this, OEMs also have to keep the price down.

      We are not talking about enterprise customers now, we are talking about consumers and consumers will not tolerate $1000 pricepoints. OEMs need to be able to sell Windows laptops/tablets for $350-$500 and Windows convertibles for $500-$800.
      M Wagner
    • who's gorilla?

      Panasonic has T series of laptops which have touchscreens, but not convertible, for ages. It is an AWESOME experience. Whenever you have to keep you laptop on your lap, you are touching its screen exactly like people are touching their iPads and tablets. The only difference - screen holds up itself, while tablet users have to use one of their hands for that.

      I really dont get your thoughts about something "half-baked".
  • w/ or w/o win8

    I don't know that i'll necessarily buy a touchscreen laptop WITH windows 8, but I'll definitely be purchasing a touchscreen ultrabook before the end of the year. With or without win8 on it.
    As a developer I want to be able to dev mobilly (sp?), but currently if you want to do that you're lugging around a 9lb desktop replacement, not one of these uber-sexy ultrabooks. That's what I'm waiting for. An ultrabook worthy of a dev :)
    • Got a solution for you

      You want an ultrabook for development that is lightweight and fully functional with or without Windows? Get a MacBook Air. That's what I do. Works fine for me. Sure, it's not touchscreen, but why would you need touchscreen for development?
      • Because it really helps when you're trying to develop touch enabled apps.

        And also it's not convertible into a tablet and 4G is pretty weak. Better to wait and get a convertible ivy bridge based ultrabook.
        Johnny Vegas
    • touchscreen ultrabooks

      Ultrabooks w/ or w/o touchscreens are the best mobility machines today when you actually need to produce content - not just consuming content. When you actually have to do "work" on the computer, Ultrabooks are to answer. And the answer for actually working on the go is the FlipCase carrying case. Designed for ultrabooks, it's a case that allows you to really maximize mobile computing, allowing use of the computer while standing without having to remove the computer from the case - the carrying case is your portable work station in less than 3 seconds!
  • Best of both worlds!

    Hybrids will be perfect for me. During the day I run productivity applications so a keyboard is essential. The soft keyboards are horrible for typing documents and the touch interface is not good for precision. So I will be spending most of my time using the Windows 8 Desktop + Keyboard.

    In the evening I consume media, so its all consumption apps for me. Using a keyboard will be cumbersome so its all touch and the Windows 8 metro interface will be great for this. The best of both worlds and I can see why its a no compromise approach. I just hope it will arrive soon as I'm waiting for a Win8 ultrabook-hybrid. I can the ditch my Android tablet and say good bye to my old laptop.
    • +1

    • Best of both worlds?

      Hybrids are hardly ever the best of both worlds, they're usually a big [b]compromise[/b] of both worlds actually.

      For instance, I use a widescreen 15" laptop for serious productivity work (Design), but when it's time for leisure and consumption (reading eBooks, surfing the web on the couch or bed, lite computing), I would prefer to use my 9.7" iPad or something smaller. I need all the screen real-estate of my 15" laptop (plus extended monitor) for serious productivity work but it would become overkill and awkward to hold when consuming, relaxing next to the wife. And obviously 10" or smaller is just absolutely not suitable for the work that I do.

      That's the whole issue I see with this hybrid Windows 8 approach. Contrary to the marketing, it's really a big compromise for most.
      • It's the best of both worlds because...

        ... most people can't afford to buy two devices.
        Peolple on a budget that still wants a physical keyboard will most likely want a laptop with touch. Even better if it's a convertible.
  • Tough sell

    PC manufacturers are already having a hard time getting the cost down on Ultrabooks, adding multi-touch screens on top of that will be risky. It will drive the price up. I just don't see it catching on with the gen public, just like how it never caught on before (gorilla arms). Also I would love to see some type of survey done that shows consumers (who are not Microsoft fanbase) are eagerly awaiting and anticipating Metro-Style UI on their "PC".