What Windows 8 Means to AV

Planar Helium_450x300No doubt you’ve seen the ubiquitous ads for Microsoft Windows 8, including all that keyboard clicking and tablet touching. To get some perspective, I asked around our offices for experts and spoke to Cris Derr, Planar Product Marketing Director, about the impact of Windows 8, the growth of touch monitors on the desktop, and the impact on the AV industry. Here’s how it went:

Me: Cris, we have all seen the advertisements for Windows 8 and played with the new interface and it is very different from previous user-interface designs.  Why do you think touch capabilities matter on the desktop?

Cris: With Windows 8, Microsoft has “modernized” the popular Windows operating system. As you point out, one of the most significant change users will experience is the Windows XP/7 Start menu has been replaced with a touch-friendly tile experience. Growth in mobile platforms has far outpaced previous desktops.  When people use their laptops, Ultrabooks, convertibles, and tablets, at some point, they tend to go back to their desks. And when they’re at their desks, working off a small laptop screen or a mobile device isn’t very productive.

Mobility isn’t mutually exclusive from working at a desk. A touch-enabled monitor on the desktop brings the ease of smartphone and tablet computing to an office-based setting and enables you to pair both worlds seamlessly.

Me: Is there anything that is made easier with touch on the desktop?

Cris: Yes, many of the actions in Windows 8 were designed for touch, such as opening and closing applications. While these actions can be accomplished with a keyboard and mouse, they are much more intuitive with touch. Moreover, if you are using the Windows 8 operating system on a touch-enabled mobile device, you will quickly grow into the habit of using these gestures.  Having a touch-enabled display on the desktop enables you to use these gestures  in a more natural way.

Me: So does this mean the end of the computer mouse?

Cris: Touch can make some tasks easier, while the mouse and keyboard are suited well for other tasks. For example, writing a letter is much easier to do with a keyboard than a touch screen or a mouse. So, to answer your question, if the task is more natural with touch, use touch. if the task is more natural with a mouse or keyboard, use those tools.

Me: I heard that for desktop touch screens, the stand is important. Why is that?  Why can’t touch screens just be used at the same angles as regular desktop monitors?

Cris: Steve Jobs said a few years back: “We’ve done tons of user testing on this, and it turns out it doesn’t work. Touch surfaces don’t want to be vertical.”  The problem is people report something called “gorilla arm” or fatigue from having to hold your arm up in an awkward position for too long.  This is a problem associated with touch screens that use a more traditional desktop stand.  Our research has shown it is critical that the stand for a touchscreen adjust to a more natural touch position, from vertical down to a 20-degree angle — or even laid flat. Think of the screen like a drafting table. In this way you can move the screen into the best viewing and touch angle.

Me: How is setting up a multi-touch PC system different than a non-touch system (i.e. a Windows 7 PC with monitor)?

Cris: A good touch display will support a variety of inputs, including HDMI, DisplayPort, and VGA.  Just plugging in the appropriate cable will light up the display.  To enable the touch requires plugging in a USB cable from the display to the PC.  Unlike past Windows XP/7 systems, Windows 8 is designed to be driverless – so no special driver or software is needed to make it work.

Me: What are the top features to look for in a multi-touch monitor for the desktop?

Cris: First, the responsiveness of the touch is really important, as the screen should move with your motion.   Second, look for a screen that you can easily adjust into the best viewing and touch position for you at a size large enough to work productively.  Top software developers who have been writing touch-enabled applications recommend 27 inches.  Third, this is a display, so buy a good-quality monitor with an outstanding warranty, like a multi-year warranty with advanced replacement included.  Other features to look for include a webcam for video conferencing, USB hub, and digital video inputs, like HDMI and DisplayPort.

Me: What is the correlation between Windows 8 and the proliferation of touch technology for desktop computing, and what do these technological advances mean for the AV industry?

Cris:  The lines continue to blur between AV and IT.  Between mobile and desktop. Between cloud-computing and local processing.  Between public and private space.  There are large opportunities for the AV industry to embrace , adopt, and recommend Window 8-compatible digital displays to their clients and provide leadership to companies, government entities, retailers, and other customers.

Hundreds of thousands of Windows 8 licenses will be sold, and as service packs become available in time,  more enterprise clients will be deploying this version of the Windows platform.  This will not only create opportunities for touch monitors on the desktop, but touch-enabled displays in conference rooms and public spaces.  Times of technological innovation are a great time for trusted industry advisors and resellers to provide thought leadership and consultation to their customers and translate that into growth, not only of the business, but of the applications to which clients seek the input of their AV integrator.

Me to you: Have you spent much time with Windows 8? Have any feedback on its touchscreen capabilities? Let us know in the Comments section.

 

 

About Jennifer Davis

Jennifer Davis is Vice President of Marketing at Planar Systems and Runco International. Her work at Planar spans a wide variety of markets and technologies, including digital signage and architectural displays. Prior to joining Planar, Jennifer worked for Intel Corp. and held a senior marketing management role at a software start-up. She holds a BS in business administration and history from Warner Pacific College and an MBA from Pepperdine University.

4 Responses to “What Windows 8 Means to AV”

  1. I feel that there is a big learning curve to jump over regarding the Win8 OS. As more and more people are becoming comfortable with mobile devices, it seems only a natural progression for MS to make their latest OS aligned with their Windows phones. Just when I got all comfy with XP, I haven’t even gotten Win7, but have to deal with Win8 @work, and can see where people would long for the classic start, but once you get the muscle memory in your fingers and brain to go to the desktop, start menu, and even the log out button, Win8 ain’t so bad.

  2. I think Michele and Roger have both hit on important issues regarding the adoption of Windows 8 and the larger trends towards tablet-like experiences on all devices. I think most user’s experience with similar, touch-enabled interfaces are for content consumption (ie, browsing the web, playing videos or games), as opposed to content creation (ie, spreadsheet manipulation, CAD systems, etc).

    The ability of Windows 8 to use both keyboard and mouse and the touchscreen allow a great deal of user control. However, I think Roger hit it on the head. Although you CAN use Windows 8 without a touchscreen, but no one would advise it. Touch is coming to the desktop in a big way and our view is that in the coming years a bezel-free, multi-touch display (or two) will be a go-to requirement for any modern desktop computing set-up.

    I have had two touch monitors on my desk for over a year now (it is a benefit, or an occupational hazard, of working for a display company) and I will tell you that I never use it with Excel, but do enjoy using it to swipe through a PowerPoint presentation, browse a “mobile-friendly” website and the like. The same things I do on a tablet, when I am not at my desk.

  3. Somewhere along they way with all the mobile tablets replacing the traditional PC, I haven’t heard about how they would support large complex applications or users who need multiple monitors. For example, how would a Win 8 tablet computer run an AutoCAD software suite? It doesn’t interface with touch commands. Will Win 7 be the last platform to support traditional PCs?

  4. I have been using Windows 8 for about a year now, starting with the first developers release.
    Windows 8 Modern UI doesn’t work on the desktop. Sure you can use it with a mouse and keyboard. But in reality, I never use it. Windows 8 apps take over a whole screen, which is a step back in productivity, I like to be able to see things going on (remember gadgets?) while I am working. The Windows 8 snap screen (1/3 or 2/3 window) is still useless for a desktop because you have no control over positioning. Windows 8 is designed for touchscreens, and if your computer doesn’t have one, I wouldn’t suggest installing it. I basically have installed tools to give me back what Windows 8 took away, Classic Start gives me back my start menu, and 8GadgetPack to give me back my gadgets. I almost never even see the start screen. Personally, I think the start screen should be the lock screen, you would want the computer locked down to a single screen, and the live tiles would let you see at a glance much more useful information that you get with the Windows 8 lock screen.