Touch-optimized English QWERTY Keyboard Features; Roaming App Data in Windows 8; Portable Keyboard for Windows RT Image Leaks

A leaked photograph reveals, Microsoft's portable keyboard being designed specifically for Windows 8. The keyboard is designed for use with Windows 8 and Windows RT tablets, sports a Windows 8 logo, and features a dedicated key for the new charms bar in Windows 8 and Windows RT. The keyboard appears to be a companion device […]

A leaked photograph reveals, Microsoft's portable keyboard being designed specifically for Windows 8. The keyboard is designed for use with Windows 8 and Windows RT tablets, sports a Windows 8 logo, and features a dedicated key for the new charms bar in Windows 8 and Windows RT.

The keyboard appears to be a companion device for tablets will also come with a slip cover, seen below, for easier portability.

Microsoft's new keyboard will be released under a new "Wedge Mobile" brand, the site says, which will also include all of Microsoft's new mobile peripherals.

According to WinMAG, the keyboard will be announced by Microsoft in the coming months and launch alongside Windows 8 and Windows RT in October.

Portable Keyboard for Windows 8 RT

In a new Windows 8 blog post, Kip Knox, a member of the Windows User Experience program management team, details the new Windows 8 touch keyboard using the standard QWERTY layout in English.

"Starting with the earliest TabletPC enhancements to Windows, we have been working on "on-screen keyboards." With Windows 8, we started fresh and took a "first principles" approach to developing the touch keyboard. Given the amount of experience many of us have with touch keyboards for phones, and the myriad of touch devices we interact with these days, we set a very high bar for the quality of the experience and effectiveness of input with the new Windows 8 touch keyboard," wrote Knox.

For Windows 8, Microsoft introduce text input support that meets people's needs, matches our design principles, and works well with the form factors we see today and expect to see in the future.

On a Windows 8 PC using touch, "we want people to be able to: Enter text quickly, reasonably close to the speed with which they type on a physical keyboard; Avoid errors, and be able to easily correct mistakes; Enter text comfortably, in terms of posture, interaction with the device, and social setting," explains Knox.

Here are a few highlights of the new features avilable today:

  • "backspace key is there because it's used very frequently on physical keyboards and touch keyboards. If we removed it, you would find your finger groping for it repeatedly.
  • mode switch key is essential to moving between views and languages and for hiding the keyboard. IME users will find that this is how you switch to Windows IMEs, which also feature touch-optimized keyboard layouts.
  • CTRL key and the right and left arrow keys are intended for text editing operations. You can move your input cursor and cut, copy, and paste without moving your hands from the keyboard. (Note that the CTRL key works just as it does on a physical keyboard--so any supported combination will work. We include labels for things like cut, copy, paste, and bold, because they are related to text editing. The touch keyboard is not intended for "commanding," which is why you don't see things like the Windows key or function keys. That is a deliberate decision to stay focused on the goal of being really great for typing.
  • space bar is centered and wide. Physical keyboard research shows that about 80% of strikes on the space bar occur on the right (if you look at older keyboards, you will notice the wear on that side). This holds for touch keyboards too, where people will miss the spacebar if it's not ample-sized, and this creates errors that are hard to recover from.
  • "emoji" or emoticon key switches you to emoji view, where we support a full set of Unicode-based emoji characters. The use of emoji continues to grow worldwide, and has become a part of how people write and express themselves," informs Knox.
  • Microsoft also include an option for a standard keyboard layout, which can be useful on a PC without a keyboard when using desktop software that requires function keys or other extended keys. This is easily enabled from the settings Charm, in the General Settings section of PC Settings.

In addition to aforementioned features, Microsoft also added some extra features; for example, "if you hold down the &123 key, you can select symbols or numbers with your other hand, and when you release, you return to your original view," Knox explains. The team calls this "multi-touch view peek."

"These optimizations apply across the input languages we have in Windows, as we support a touch-optimized typing experience worldwide," Knox said. Adding, they'll make a few more improvements to the typing experience.

Below is a picture of the current touch-optimized English QWERTY layout and a video demonstrations of what we have in the Windows 8 Release Preview:

Windows 8 Release Preview Touch-optimized English QWERTY keyboard

In another blog post, Microsoft explains "roaming app data in Windows 8" -- "Windows 8 keeps users always connected. They can be connected to the internet, cloud services, and their other Windows 8 PCs. Your app can participate in this always connected ecosystem by taking advantage of roaming app data."

Windows 8 App Roaming

"Having apps that utilize roaming is an important part of creating a connected Windows 8, and we've created a platform that makes it easy to create these cool new experiences. Roaming to the cloud is a great way for your app to stand out and delight your customers with convenience and a fluid transition between PCs," writes Dave Bennett, Program Manager, Windows.

In the post, Microsoft explains how easy it is to implement in your app. Why roam data Roaming personalization settings is key to feeling connected to Windows, and Windows 8 does that for many Windows settings, such as your desktop theme, backgrounds, and browser favorites.

For additional guidance on using Roaming, you can refer this Guidelines for roaming application data. Also, check out the ApplicationData sample, which contains examples of all of the experiences discussed in the blog entry.