Friday, July 31, 2015

Windows 10 Day 3: Using Windows 10 with a touchscreen

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The Windows 10 hype isn't that strong today, while there are still quite a number of articles about it being good or bad, the initial hype about the launch is a bit calmer now. While most of us in the tech community has upgraded to Windows 10, some of the not-so tech savvy users have not claimed their upgrade and that should take place during the weekends as the process does take a hit on productive activities. Just remember that if you have not received the notification for your Windows 10 upgrade, you can try this trick to skip the line and get it now. 

Speaking of upgrading to Windows 10, Microsoft has announced today through their official blog that Windows 10 is now on 14 million computers worldwide. That equates to 162 upgrades every second, pretty impressive number. Additionally, Microsoft also highlighted the moments shared by Windows 10 fans on launch day through the #UpgradeYourWorld hashtag. 
Windows 10 Day 2: Configuring the operating systemEverything worked as is and I even managed to print a file on my printer, No errors, the drivers were supported on Windows 10. Continue reading
Alright, on to today's update which is all about the Surface Pro 3. Like I mentioned in Day 1, previously I was only using Windows 10 on an old laptop which is nothing compared to all the new hardware innovations on laptops today. Microsoft's Surface Pro 3 laptop hybrid is one of them as it comes with a high resolution 12" multi touch display. While Microsoft isn't directly marketing Windows 10 as an operating system made for touch devices like they did with Windows 8, the operating system itself has quite a bit of tricks up it's sleeve for laptops with touch displays. 
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The first thing to to know about using Windows 10 with a touchscreen is that there is a tablet mode which automatically make applications full screen. Besides that, all your taskbar icons will be wiped away and on the bottom left corner you will see an addition of a back button. This particular mode will also change your Start Menu into a Start screen and you can still run all your applications like you would before but you can only run a single application at a time (no snapping apps side by side) and the Virtual Desktops feature is also not accessible through this mode.

As the name suggest, Tablet Mode makes navigating Windows 10 easier when you're just laying back on the couch with a hybrid device like the Surface Pro 3. While this is a mode geared towards tablets, you can also activate this mode on any other Windows 10 device simply through the quick toggles in the Notification Center. In addition to that, you might've heard about Continuum on Windows 10 and that feature basically changes the device in to Tablet mode...automatically. How Continuum works on the Surface Pro 3? when you click in or click out the Type Cover, there will be a notification asking you to change in or our of Tablet Mode.
Windows 10 review - Is Microsoft giving what users what they need in Windows 10? The short answer is yes, but it depends. Continue reading
Other than that, I have also noticed that Windows 10 has quite a number of improvements for touch-based devices. Probably the simplest one is gestures, Initially I thought that Microsoft removed the Windows 8 gestures in Windows 10 but it turns out that they did keeps some of the useful ones (another hit for my Windows 10 review providing somewhat false information). If you swipe in from the right of the screen, the Notification Center will come out but if you swipe in from the left, the Task View will come up and my personal favorite gesture on Windows 8 is also still alive, that is the gesture which closes an application. Like on Windows 8, to close an application, all you have to do is drag it vertically down.

Tip: While using the touchscreen to navigate through Windows 10, I have also learnt how to take screenshots without the need of a keyboard. All you have to do is press the volume down button and the capacitive Windows button and that's it. You've got yourself a screenshot. But a word of advice, you won't be able to take a screenshot of the virtual keyboard using this method.

Besides that, I have also found it a little bit more practical to use the Surface Pro 3 in vertical orientation while in Tablet mode because I can view more content on the screen. This is a natural choice as the Windows Store applications in Windows 10 no longer have the horizontal scrolling design induced by Windows 8 and for the most part, the content (especially text) wrap around the screen without any white spaces. It's like reading an interactive magazine.

But despite that, I do have a complaint with using Windows 10 with a touchscreen. I am referring to the on screen keyboard. The keyboard itself is pretty good (and accurate) but I was expecting the Windows Phone 8.1 Word Flow keyboard to be there. Specifically, I wanted the Shape Writing (swype) feature on the Windows 10 virtual keyboard. A little bummer here as my fingers had the intention of swyping through the keys to type out a words as I am holding the Surface in a vertical orientation.

Overall, I have to say that using Windows 10 on a touchscreen feels natural and the gestures play a big role in navigating through the operating system. However, some stock applications like the file explorer is still not optimized for touch as the folder list hasn't been artificially enlarged. But bottom line, Windows 10's Tablet mode reminds me a lot about using Windows Phone and now I just wish that Microsoft will bring gestures to Windows 10 Mobile.

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The right click context menu is bigger than usual due to the 150% scaling

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This is how the search bar looks like without Cortana, how empty

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I opened Microsoft Edge just to doodle on the touchscreen, didn't use the Surface pen though
Referring back to the Surface Pro 3's high resolution display, Windows 10 still hasn't solved the scaling issue for high dpi displays which are becoming increasingly common these days. I would've scaled up Windows to 200% on the Surface Pro 3 to make the taskbar a little bigger but by doing that, everything else will also end up being bigger. Ended up going with the recommended scaling of 150% which is a balance of usability and productivity.

Well, I think that is about if for today's update about using Windows 10 on a touchscreen. Certainly a good experience that tells me a little bit more about Microsoft's new operating system. In the next update, I will be discussing about Cortana and also some of the core features of Windows 10 like the Notification Center. That will most likely come on Sunday as I need a time out from writing articles during the weekend.

Insider Talk (out of topic)

Phew, I can't believe that I made it to day 3. I think I have my blogging mojo back again and expect to see more articles being published in August. Also, I am still working on my OnePlus 2 article and that should be up in the weekend or by next week.

Yeah, and about the screenshot thing. Using the power down button and capacitive start button method will take a screenshot of the virtual keyboard. It's just that as you're clicking that, the virtual keyboard is also sliding down from existence. That is why my screenshot there shows the virtual keyboard half gone.
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