With the imminent release of Windows 8 and its Metro touch-based user interface, most of the Asian computer manufacturers are trying at making the touch-screen a mainstream item in the consumer-focused computer.
Previously, as Microsoft integrated tablet and touch abilities in to the Windows operating system, either through a special-delivery pack in Windows XP or as part of the build in Windows Vista and 7, manufacturers tried running with some business computer models that had this feature. This appealed to some usage scenarios like kiosks or point-of-sale / point-of-service applications but didn’t progress further.
Now, through the popularity of the Apple iPad and the Android-based tablets, touchscreen computing has been positioned in to the mainstream. A few manufacturers like HP and Sony have started to make the touchscreen a standard feature of some of their “all-in-one” desktop computers in order to capitalise on its popularity. But they wrote up their own touch-enabled shells and applications to exploit this feature and some of these shells didn’t serve a practical or proper purpose. For example, they didn’t work well with “reading” or similar tasks that are touch-intuitive.
Microsoft have capitalised on this factor by building in the Metro touch user interface in to the Windows 8 operating system, thus making it work properly as a touch-centric user interface. Now this year’s Computex trade show, held in Taipei, has become a point where most of the Asian computer manufacturers are releasing more of the touch-enabled computers for this operating system.
For example, Acer have run with two touch-enabled Ultrabooks which can lie flat as well as two “all-in-one” desktops and two Windows-driven tablets. As far as the tablets are concerned, one of them even uses a keyboard dock in a similar vein to the Android-driven ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime and Lenova ThinkPad Yoga tablets.
Some of us may be skeptical of the idea of consumer touchscreen computing occurring on anything other than Android or iOS devices but as we see the arrival of touchscreen-enabled all-in-ones or laptops running Windows 8, who knows whether this would come to pass.
In my opinion, the Windows-based touchscreen computers would need to work with online bookstores and newsstands so that users can purchase and download ebooks and other content delivered in “electronic hard-copy” formats. Here, the apps that are used to read these ebooks need to support an intuitive reading experience that the touchscreens do offer.