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Windows 8 Introduces ‘Fast and Fluid’ Rotation Transition Between Landscape & Portrait

At the //BUILD/ Microsoft has demonstrated Windows 8 in landscape orientation (widescreen). Primarily that’s because often we’re projecting, and it makes for a better experience that way, writes David Washington of user experience team in a October 20 blog post. Adding, David said, “Another reason is that many of the early devices (such as the Samsung tablet issued at //build/ with Windows Developer Preview) are widescreen, which’s ideal for showing side-by-side applications using the new Snap feature, and that tends to work well in landscape.”

When asked why we showed so much of the Windows 8 user interface in landscape at the //build/ conference. Davaid said, “Windows 8 is a reimagining of all PCs, and it’s not just for tablets. It’ll run on hundreds of millions of laptops and desktops (designed for Windows 7 and new for Windows 8), many of which’re and will be landscape-only. Also, in landscape and widescreen, we can offer a multitasking experience (snapping two apps side by side) and full-screen video playback without letterboxing. (In addition, for many of our larger demonstrations we are projecting to huge screens, which look better in landscape).”

Windows 8 in Landscape modeWindows 8 Landscape mode

“We’ve designed Windows 8 to be ergonomically comfortable in all orientations. We found that a comfortable posture for using a tablet in landscape is to hold in both hands and touch the screen with your thumbs. For this reason, we’ve designed the majority of the experience to be easily accessible under your thumbs. We also optimized the system to scroll horizontally, which feels fast and fluid in landscape as well as in portrait mode. We even did work on our Visual Studio and Expressions tools to make sure developers have great tools support for building applications that work well in both orientations.”

He writes, “While desigining the end-to-end experience on different form factors in Windows 8, we used the following principles:

  • The experience tailors itself for all form factors: small screens, wide screens, laptops and desktops.
  • The experience takes advantage of widescreen formats for multi-tasking and for full-screen video.
  • The device can be held and interacted with in the way that is most comfortable.
  • Developers have the opportunity to create one app that runs on all views and orientations across form factors with minimal effort,” mentiones Davdid.

Adding, he notes, “Our goals when looking at landscape and portrait were as follows:

  • You can easily rotate your tablet to best suit your task or ergonomic posture.
  • Rotation in Windows is fast and fluid.
  • Windows rotates predictably across the system and apps – keeping the user in control.
  • Developers can easily build high quality and intentional landscape and portrait layouts, depending on the experiences they want to enable.”

“Windows is also designed to work great in portrait mode. We tuned the system experiences like the keyboard, file picker, and charms to work great in portrait as well as landscape.[…]Because one of our goals was to make the rotation transition between landscape and portrait feel fast and fluid, teams across Windows put significant work into streamlining the path of this transition, from the accelerometer hardware up through the graphics stack to the app,” David explains.

Adding, “An important part of the transition between landscape and portrait is the animation. The animation choreographs the appearance of a smooth transition between the two layout states. The timing of the animation is important as it had to be tuned to feel fast and responsive, while remaining smooth enough to make the transition not feel jarring. The Desktop Window Manager (DWM), which is foundational to the smooth animations in Windows 7 and Windows 8, orchestrates this animation.”

You can choose the device that best suits your preferences, pick it up in the way that is most comfortable, and the experience accommodates that posture. Apps can take advantage of widescreen with multitasking, and still look great in portrait orientation with minimal additional work.

Windows 8: Landscape and portrait mode
Windows 8 in Landscape and Portrait mode

Here’s a short video to show you the landscape-to-portrait transitions in action:

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