Windows 8 touchscreen on laptop / Metro with mouse useless.

The Verge just released an article on Windows 8 laptops with touch screens that are going up for sale and will ship next month.

I've always been a fan of touchscreens. Touchscreens have pretty much made the smartphone the most popular gadget, and made them (providing a good UI) very easy and natural to use. Touch screens on a laptop, to me anyway, just don't make one lick of sense.

Tablet's and smartphone's touch screens are much easier to use. When using a tablet, your arm is mostly by your side, and with a smartphone, obviously you're mostly going to be using your thumbs. Either way is not very tiring to use. Now imagine using a touch screen to navigate the once "Metro" interface on a laptop, with your arm suspended in the the air.

Way back in middle school, I remember my gym teacher teaching the us a lesson in what it would be like to be a boxer. "Put your arms up in the air in front of you for 3 minutes", he said. And we thought, "Pfft. No big deal, I can do that easy." Of course, it was pretty apparent to us after only 30 seconds that this was not going to be an easy task.

While not quite as extreme as keeping your hands up to block incoming punching from your opponent in boxing, Using an upright touchscreen is not just a very good way of interfacing with a computer. After a while your arm will start to get sore.

Almost as bad as the metro interface with an upright touchscreen is trying to use it with a mouse. I downloaded and used the consumer preview on my computer for a couple weeks before ultimately installing a custom start button so I wouldn't have to use a mouse pointer in the metro interface. Now hopefully the second issue here will be resolved by Microsoft letting you disable metro all together and allowing you (even if by a registry hack) to enable a windows 7 like start button again. Metro is great, and I'm certainly not knocking it. On a tablet, or smartphone, or even a surface hybrid tablet it works great. However; navigating the on screen menus with a mouse is just not ideal.

It was very clear to me that using a mouse to interface with a UI that was designed for touch is just not how Metro was mean't to be interfaced with. Moving the mouse to the extreme corners of the screen to bring up sidebar menus, right clicking instead of long pressing, and using an up and down scroll wheel to move left and right is extremely tiring and confusing to somebody who is used to using a mouse in Windows 7.

Back to the laptop idea...

To me, people who end up buying a Windows 8 laptop will end up doing two things:

  • Initially thinking the metro interface is cool, (although it may be alien to those who have never used metro before)
  • but eventually just wanting to use a computer the same way they always have since windows 1.0. With a mouse and keyboard.
  • Installing a custom software to enable the start button and avoid metro at all cost / registry hack the start button back to the screen.
What are your thoughts on Windows 8 on laptops / Desktops?
Will you be upgrading to Windows 8 or sticking to Windows 7 (and for a few of you really stubborn people) sticking to Windows XP?