Microsoft has greatly improved its keyboard and mouse support for the Metro style Start Screen in Windows 8 Consumer Preview. We got the chance to try out a ViewSonic P100 this week and compared the touch controls to a traditional laptop. There are seven key gestures in Windows 8 Consumer Preview and a bunch of new keyboard shortcuts, improved from the often critiqued Developer Preview version. Microsoft has listened to the feedback from developers and implemented equal ways to access the functions in Windows 8.

In desktop mode with a keyboard and mouse, Windows 8 will provide a Start tip that lets users access the Start screen or a list of recently used apps. Right clicking on the tip brings up some power user features such as quick access to command prompt and device manager. There are other examples of where Microsoft's mouse and keyboard work has been improved, including scrolling and zooming. Closing Metro style apps is similar to the touch interface, using a mouse grabber to pull from the top of the screen, and there is a number of ways to replicate touch functionality using Windows key shortcuts. Here are some of our favorites:

  • Windows key + C - display charms bar
  • Windows key + V - cycle through notifications
  • Windows key + tab - cycle through applications
  • Windows key + J - swap from a snapped app to full screen

Overall, Windows 8 is clearly built with touch in mind and the navigation works well in that particular mode. Questions remain on whether 27-inch desktop users will want to run applications full screen all the time but Microsoft has addressed some of those concerns with the ability to snap apps to the side while you access traditional desktop ones and some improved keyboard and mouse support. Check out the video below to see some comparisons, and don't forget to read our full hands-on with Windows 8 Consumer Preview.