The Orange View (on hiatus) Because Apple is great but it isn't perfect

15Sep/11Off

Sinofsky’s all touchy-feely, Jobs not at all

I have a few bones to pick with much of the punditry on Windows 8 and Apple's operating systems, coming asap. But there's one completely accurate contrast that's almost getting too little attention. Microsoft is betting that people will want to touch their laptop and desktop screens while Apple thinks that is nuts. That could go a long way to determine the success or failure of Windos 8.

Here is Stephen Sinofsky, president of Microsoft's Windows unit:

"People says touch is only for small devices or lightweight things. I promise you the minute you use a touch device with Windows 8, by the time you go back to your laptop or desktop you're going to be hitting that screen. You'll have fingerprints all over your monitor if it doesn't support touch."

-Information Week, September 14, 2011

And here is Steve Jobs last October:

"We've done tons of user testing on this, and it turns out it doesn't work. Touch surfaces don't want to be vertical. It gives great demo but after a short period of time, you start to fatigue and after an extended period of time, your arm wants to fall off. it doesn't work, it's ergonomically terrible. Touch surfaces want to be horizontal, hence pads. For a notebook, that's why we're perfected our multitouch trackpads over the years, because that's the best way we've found to get multitouch into a notebook.

We've also, in essence, put a trackpad -- a multitouch track pad on the mouse with our magic mouse. And we've recently come out with a pure play trackpad as well for our desktop users. So this is how were going to use multitouch on our Mac products because this (he points at someone touch laptop screen) doesn't work."

-SFGate, October 20, 2010

Total opposite approaches.

Posted by Aaron Pressman

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  1. Based on my experience with a docked ASUS Transformer, Sinofsky is absolutely right. The combination of keyboard (and trackpad or mouse) and touchscreen works so well on the Transformer that it is violently jarring when I go back to my laptop (or to a lesser extent a desktop) and touching the screen doesn’t do anything.

    And it works exactly the way Sinofsky described: Using my phone (or my Transformer before the dock arrived) didn’t affect anything, but once I used my docked transformer, I started expecting screens to be touchable, period.

    To me, the interesting bit is that Jobs isn’t wrong, exactly. Instead, it looks to me like Apple asked the wrong question. Based on the his comments on fatigue, it looks like Apple considered *replacing* a mouse/trackpad with a touchscreen (as another Apple-style simplification). I agree that wouldn’t work. And it wouldn’t be in character for Apple to look at adding touch without taking the mouse away, because that is, on the surface, more complicated (the different touch / click resolution is one tricky issue, for example).

    OTOH, I suspect Microsoft was asking a different question: How do we touch-enable Windows? When asking that question, adding touch to a screen (without taking away the mouse/trackpad) is a natural thing to look at. And once you do, you discover that people really like having the option to touch their screens even though they don’t do it all the time.

    Personally, I expect laptop touch screens to start spreading like wildfire once Windows 8 is out and people start seeing them in action.


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