Microsoft: This is Windows 10X's new Wonder Bar for dual-screen devices

Microsoft lays out how developers can and should use the upcoming Windows 10X Wonder Bar strip.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Microsoft's new Windows 10X for dual-screen computers like the Surface Neo tablet includes a new feature similar to Apple's MacBook Pro Touch Bar. 

The Wonder Bar takes advantage of the Neo when it's positioned as a laptop. The user can place a magnetic physical keyboard on the horizontal screen of the Surface Neo, which leaves a broad strip at the top for displaying video, emoticons, and other graphics.   

With this new screen real estate available, Microsoft has now offered an explanation for how developers can use the space. 

Microsoft sees it as a way to augment the keyboard but also for developers to create new app experiences. The Wonder Bar will also be an option when users choose an on-screen keyboard. 

Microsoft argues there are ergonomic advantages of the Wonder Bar for sharing emojis and GIFs from a "virtual touchpad", as well as advantages for multi-tasking, like watching a video while working, quickly jotting down notes, or skipping to the next song in a music app. 

"We see endless opportunities for Wonder Bar to be just the right space that supports this kind of peripheral multi-tasking," says Microsoft


A magnetic physical keyboard placed on the horizontal screen of the Surface Neo leaves a broad strip at the top, the Wonder Bar, for displaying video, emoticons, and other graphics.

Image: Microsoft

But the company also sees a chance for the Wonder Bar to be hijacked or just misused, creating unwanted distractions and information overload for Windows 10X users. 

So Microsoft has laid out some Wonder Bar ground rules or principles, which encourage developers to keep content in it "intentional". 

"Customers should be given good reason to spread their attention when we promote multi-tasking, and the interaction between Wonder Bar experiences and the user's main focus must be thoughtful," it states. 

Microsoft wants to ensure the Wonder Bar's precision touchpad is always accessible, that behaviors are predictable, and that the feature is used as part of a broader app experience. It also notes that developers should keep experiences simple.

SEE: 20 pro tips to make Windows 10 work the way you want (free PDF)    

"Wonder Bar is designed to prioritize the user's ease and peace of mind," Microsoft says. 

The new details on the Wonder Bar follow Microsoft's explanation yesterday of how containerized Windows 10X apps will work and releasing the Windows 10X emulator and SDK. 

All Windows 10X apps – Win32, Universal Windows Platform (UWP), and web – must run in containers to boost security and performance of devices running this version of Windows 10. 

Microsoft also hopes that most existing Windows applications will work on Windows 10X with no developer modifications required. 

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