June 06, 2011, 10:40 AM — Microsoft has pulled back the curtain and given the world its first glimpse of what we can expect from Windows 8. Microsoft made a point of clarifying that Windows 8 will run on existing hardware, but it failed to mention that you might need a new desk.
Why? Well, Microsoft seems to have gone to great lengths to modernize the user interface of Windows--this is by far the most dramatic makeover Windows has gotten in its history. One of the defining features of the Windows 8 interface is that it is uniquely suited for manipulating and interacting via touch. As natural as touch gestures might be for the Windows 8 operating system, it is not natural to reach up to tap the monitor sitting on your desk.
I should know. I already have a touchscreen monitor that I connect my laptop to when I am sitting at my desk. It is an Acer T230H 23-inch monitor. I thought that it would be really cool to be able to interact with Windows 7 via touch, but the reality is that is highly impractical. I tried it for a while, but my shoulders get tired pretty quick when holding my arm out straight in front of me for extended periods to tap and swipe the screen.
I realize that beneath the veneer of flashy tiles, and the revamped 'Zune-esque' user interface, the traditional Windows operating system I am used to exists somewhere. Yes, it is possible to navigate Windows 8 with a mouse and keyboard, and the touchscreen interface is not a requirement. But, I would rather be able to use touch gestures as well.
What Windows 8 needs is a desk where the monitor lays down instead of standing up on top of the desk. But, a completely flat monitor would also be a pain ergonomically--both in terms of the viewing angle and strain on your neck, and in terms of having to reach out across it to tap and swipe.
But, if the monitor were lying at a slight angle--with the base essentially making contact with the top of the keyboard, it would be in a good position for viewing, and in a reasonable position for working with the touchscreen interface.