Windows 8 and Touchscreens

One of the most common questions I get asked by clients is if they should upgrade to Windows 8. I always answer that question with a few questions of my own. First are you running XP or Windows 7? If it is Windows 7 you are fine where you are for now, if it is XP then you need to upgrade to something. Support for Windows XP is over as of April 8, 2014 Second question, are you buying a new PC as part of your upgrade? This question is very important as Windows 8 has a learning curve and it becomes a much shorter learning curve and a more enjoyable experience if you are going to buy a new PC with a touchscreen.

Designers of the Windows 8 operating system want you touching and pinching your computer screen, starting software applications and games with a tap of a finger that bypasses the keyboard. The reason behind this deliberate move is likely due to your natural inclination to interact with objects and because technology in general is headed in this direction. Think of your smartphone or tablet devices, they are already touch enabled. Once you have headed down the touch interaction road you find it far more intuitive to touch a picture of a button rather than to guide a mouse pointer to the same image.

Windows 8’s new user interface appears soon after your computer boots. Its clear designers intended this Start screen for the mobile market where touchscreens thrive, each competing for attention in a crowded sector that seems to pitch new smartphones and tablets every other week.

Once loaded, the new Start interface pops on to the screen as an animated, dynamic set of tiles that replace the classic Start menu once located on the bottom-left corner of the Windows taskbar. These rows of animated tiles are meant to be touched. They’re large and wide, perfectly proportioned for large or small fingers, they can be customized, resized and placed anywhere on the screen. Microsoft includes mouse support for clicking your way across the new Start menu, but it feels unnatural, again you will like this OS much better on a touchscreen computer.

The desktop is reached by touching or clicking on the Desktop tile, and it looks as familiar as ever but your familiar navigation tools are gone. The Start icon in the lower left is absent and so your list of all programs is no longer there. The Windows logo that sits in its place will take you right back to the tiled Start screen. There are some third party applications you can install that will mimic the look and feel of the older Windows Operating Systems but if you spend some time with Windows 8 I think you will soon like it.

The touchscreen Start interface does have some interesting features that you will come to like. The ability to swipe back and forth between screens that have applications running and to move tiles around with a simple finger stroke is very “future is now” feeling. For those of you that have already embraced mobile devices there are plenty of third-party Apps that can be downloaded and installed from the Windows Store. These Apps include handy utilities, entertainment programs, games, and productivity software that are every bit as useful as those found in Android and iOS devices.

So again my recommendation if you are going to upgrade is to spend the extra and go with the touchscreen you won’t regret it.