Some of the most fun articles on this blog come from times when I just can’t take it anymore. In this article from 2016, I had just suffered a catastrophic failure of an all-in-one PC and was forced to move to a new one far too quickly. As a result, I made the decision not to have a touch-enabled monitor and I’ve never looked back. Until today, of course.
Where touch-enabled monitors were then
Windows 8 came out in 2012 and promised us a future where we’d spend a lot more time touching our screens. It seemed plausible. After all the iPad had taken the world by storm in 2010 and had essentially killed off the netbook (or so it would seem at the time.) Smartphones had only been around a few years and it seemed like the whole world wanted to move over to a touch-enabled operating system.
Except they didn’t.
Over the years I’ve railed about the failed experiment that was Windows 8. The goal of that operating system was to move away from the 1990s model of Start Menu and shortcut keys, into a new model that was more touch-centric. Windows 8 was planned as the first thrust into a world where every device you held, from your MP3 player to your phone to the touch-enabled coffee table in front of you, worked more or less the same.
As I said, people didn’t want that. The same people who revel in new functions and features for their phones just wanted an OS where they could get their jobs done. It was the beginning of the feeling that PCs were for work and phones were for fun.
Slowly, though, the world has changed
The funny thing about the last five years is that it seems like we’re coming back to the idea of touchscreens. While the original Microsoft Surface was, as I say in one of my favorite articles, a “bag of suck,” today’s Surface Pro is more popular than an iPad. In today’s remote learning environment, the ability to annotate on the screen makes a lot of sense. And at least for our personal devices, we love to touch them.
This doesn’t mean we have a lot of large touchscreens, at least not yet. Touch functionality is still relegated to sub-12″ devices. We still don’t want to raise our hands from the keyboard and swipe on the screen. We probably never will. But for those folks who actually take their devices on the go, touch makes sense.
Even the lowly Windows Store has made some progress. The early version of the Windows store was a real wasteland, that’s true. Today though, it deserves a second look. Check it out and you might just find something you like. You can get real versions of your favorite streaming apps and a lot of really decent little utilities. These all come with Microsoft’s promise of safety, which is more and more important these days.
Will Windows-8-style computing make a comeback?
No, I don’t think it will. I think that the PC, at least in the context of a work computer, is going to stay pretty stable. We’ve heard the Microsoft plans a visual refresh in the next year or so, but don’t expect it to be a massive change like Windows 8 was. But you know what, that’s perfectly fine with me.