On your desktop/laptop, assume you already have a touchscreen and everything works perfectly. Assume every swipe interaction you have ever used works perfectly.
Interact with the computer. Navigate around the computer. Drag and drop files. Surf around the internet. Click tabs and hyperlinks and whatever with the mouse, with touch, even with tab+space, whatever feels natural.
Do it. Seriously, literally do it. Go through the motions.
My point is simply that once we have touchscreens on every desktop, it might enable ways to interact with your computer that we might not even have thought of yet.
edit: added "similarity to tablet" part
This is what iOS did: Create a new world designed for being touched. Instead of the Windows CE or the Palms around the pointer.
You have to redesign the entire software stack for being touched, and it will happen.
Ubuntu Unity, Windows 8, and Mac OS new versions are races against time for being the first bringing professional creative tools "touch-ready".
It is very hard to do it, and current users are getting angry the same way people got mad when they removed the numeric keys from the macs(so command line software got redesigned around mouse).
I now have an Asus Transformer, and I find that I now reach for the screen on laptops as well. However, when I plug my mouse into my Transformer, it annoys my that I cannot use the mouse as I've comes to expect it to be used; instead, the OS interprets everything the mouse does as gestures.
I hope to someday install Linux on my tablet, and then try to create an interface that treats touch as touch, and mouse as mouse. I also have ideas for touch I'd like to experiment with.
I think the conclusion is rather that soon enough, regular computers will be tablets (or tabletops).
Thanks for all of the great commentary everyone!
I don't really know why, I just know that it makes me really happy to use the trackpad. It feels natural.
This, to me, is a sign that we are definitely heading towards something that involves Touch to a much larger degree.
I can't imagine touch being on every computer monitor, because my arm would get tired. I mean, I'm now leaning back on my chair with my keyboard on my lap, with my monitor pretty far away - I wouldn't be able to do that if I had to touch the monitor. Still, the world of computer interaction is going to be a very interesting one over the next few years, that's guaranteed.
These are really great times we're living in.
the touchpad on your laptop is around the size as the screen on your smartphone. They use hand/wrist-sized motions. This is fast and efficient.
Scaling a touchscreen up to laptop or desktop size is a completely different set of motions. Your whole arm gets involved and your fingers have to travel much further to achieve the same motion.
I think the mapped indirect manipulation of a trackpad makes a lot more sense from a human factors perspective.
I do think the ergonometrics of using touch on a large(ish) vertical display - "Gorilla Arm" - is a deal breaker for extended interaction.
There would be some subtle feedback on the main screen indicating where the loupe is currently focussed I'd guess.
Why do you assume the motions are different? Apple has already proven this with the Magic Trackpad for desktops.
The Magic Trackpad is indirect scaled motion like the inbuilt trackpad on a laptop. It's size is still within the range of easy and quick wrist motion unlike touching the desktop screen itself.
There's even push back against ever increasing phone screen sizes. They've gone beyond a finger's range of motion.
I only use the Apple magic trackpad for input in my Apple and Ubuntu computers.
It is an amazing device, all other trackpads I had tested(and I do it with every computer I see on the store) is shit compared with it, on laptops and stand alone.
But it takes some time getting used to it, specially for doing things like right clicking(15-30min in my experience with other people), so I don't see most of the people using it, unless you could make people to climb that learning curve.
About touching the screen, I remember the Windows users talking about how touching the ipad "will never work" because the screen gets dirty, like the people from Linux that hated what iOS did until Android copied it, and instantly became the best thing since sliced bread.
I have yet to see how touching the screen will help me write software (or a word document for that matter) better or that my finger is precise enough to design with.
Content consumption, web browsing, social sharing, all that stuff sure. I have modern smartphone and a couple tablets - they're pretty awesome. But bringing extending the touchscreen paradigm to the machine I use to do "work" - I'm just not seeing it yet.
It will never do. Typing is just so much faster than touching.
But it does not matter because: TALKING is much better than typing for textual data.
On the other hand, touching is so much better for edition of already introduced data, the only problem is that software is designed around keyboards, for example moving letters instead of words.
So use a pen when you need precision. The designers I know that have Wacom cintiq screens love them to death.
Pen is not suitable a general purpose pointing device to use in conjunction with any type of (onscreen or physical) keyboard.
* Tap on the screen to set carat
* Put down pen
* Pick up pen
* Click something else
Just no good.
For design / illustration pen is fantastic. You don't even need to have a Cintiq, a standard tablet works almost as well. I'll bet you money though, when most designers are doing other things, managing files, browsing the web, writing, etc. they put down the pen and pick up their mouse.
The two touch-enabled laptops I tested were more responsive and a better experience, although the speed of scrolling issue was still there. I suspect hardcore geeks may not adapt to these for some time - they're very 'eye candy' focused, and reduce your ability to do things with keystrokes. For the crowd that still meticulously watches their hand move to the mouse, then moves the eyes back to the screen to watch the mouse move, slowly, up to a menu, then click, then wait, then select an option, when just hitting 'ctrl-s' would do the trick, I suspect they'll like touchscreens for more of their daily work. Me? For now it'll be a niche thing.
And because so many of my devices are touchscreens now, it's really natural to want to touch the screen and do something when I don't want to use my mouse, trackpad, or trackpoint. It's so commonplace that I'm finding that I'm trying to touch the screen on my Macbook Air too.
I think in terms of Windows 8, the new touch screen is easier to navigate and interact with using touch than it is with keyboard and mouse. And feels more natural.
I think the keyboard & mouse experience could be improved.
An example, my brother installed Windows 8 on his Lenovo Thinkpad the other day and took a good few minutes trying to find the shutdown button until I showed him where it is now. (Hover right to bring up the charms, select power. Or press ctrl+alt+delete. Or if all else fails, pressing the power button should shutdown the device).
Whether or not they're right is a matter of execution - not only on their part, but on the part of the OEMs who have a nasty habit of doing the most short-sighted things possible.
A general purpose tablet computer, with the right feature set, with the right price point, and most importantly, with the right user experience, can be huge. But of all the Win8 devices I've seen, none of them are close enough.
My pint is that Windows ecosystem is all about diversity. If there exist separate devices, some manufacturer will bring the together.
Of course if this leads to light-table style hardware that could be pretty awesome.
It took the internet about 10 years to really take off too and there were a lot of visionaries in the early 90s that just couldn't survive until the hockey stick growth really started to take off and validate their assessments.
I do think Microsoft is on to something with Touch and their new UI. Unfortunately, I felt that the touch interface was pretty useless on the old Windows 7 UI and MS Office.
I wonder how much confusion there will be with the move to Touch, and non-"Windows Modern UI"/Metro apps. It feels like Apple is moving OS X towards iOS and touch friendly, but they are doing it very gradually.
The Surface RT can play the iPad role.
The Surface Pro can play the iPad role and the laptop role.
That's why what Microsoft is doing is risky but has the potential for user value: For some reason, people really want to use Android apps on their computer. Think about the number of apps and games that would be available? That's what Microsoft is getting out of this. Developers get to target both casual users and pro users. And pro users who are casual users after 5PM.
I don't plan to buy a Surface, but I see a lot more potential than I think others are really willing to see if they're honest with themselves.