Microsoft Gets Touch, and the Touch Technology Article That Got Me in Trouble at Microsoft (plus a contest!)

by Joey deVilla on November 5, 2012

Lance Ulanoff wrote in Mashable that Microsoft’s vision for touchscreen computers is the right one. He argues that the ergonomic principle known as Gorilla Arm (which states that our gorilla-like arms aren’t designed to be held in front of us, making fine motions, for more than brief periods of time) doesn’t apply to devices like laptops and the Surface in “kickstand mode”. He found it natural to switch back and forth between touching the screen and using the keyboard and mouse. He also found himself absorbing the Windows 8 gestures — which Marco Arment said were non-intuitive in his article An Alternate Universe — so well that found himself absent-mindedly trying to use them on his iPad.

A day later, Jeff Atwood at Coding Horror wrote pretty much the same thing in his article, titled Do You Wanna Touch, which concludes with this paragraph:

 The received wisdom about touchscreen interaction with computers was that it didn’t work. That you’d get “gorilla arm”. That’s why we had to have special tablet devices. But Surface proves that’s not true; typing and touching are spectacularly compatible, at least for laptops. And I’m beginning to wonder about my desktop a little, because lately I’m starting to I think I wanna touch that, too.

This reminds me of something I wrote a couple of years ago…

On August 1st, 2010, when I was a Developer Evangelist and Windows Phone Champ at Microsoft, I posted an article titled A Touchy Subject both here and in Microsoft Canada’s blog, Canadian Developer Connection. I was working at Microsoft at the time and wrote it in response to an Ars Technica article titled Ballmer (and Microsoft) Still Doesn’t Get the iPad; the gist of the article is “As a matter of fact, we do get touch.”

The article got a lot of comments, including one you never saw: a huffy email to my skip-level (that Microsoftese for “My manager’s manager”) from non other than Steven Sinofsky himself, President of Windows and Windows Live, who suggested that I be reprimanded for one thing in that article. I’m offering your choice of one of the following small prizes to the first person who can tell me what that one thing was:

Submit your guess to Former coworkers from Microsoft Canada’s Developer Evangelism group are, alas, ineligible.


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