Microsoft recently talked about the onscreen, touch keyboard on Windows 8 and how it is new and different from what is already out there.
Windows 8 Touchscreen Keyboard Research Based Design
Like most of the main UI elements of Windows 8, Microsoft has done a fair bit of research in to the most ergonomic solution to providing an onscreen keyboard. The result of this is the onscreen keyboard that is presently found on Windows 8. The software giant says that it went through the entire range of present generation keyboards including swipe ones, floating ones, round, big small — everything. They finally settled for this because it has maximum usability through the twin thumbs of the user when the screen is held in landscape orientation. It is important to remember that Windows 8 defaults to a landscape orientation when it comes to the UI.
Microsoft wanted to address three separate keyboard using postures — one handed typing; thumb typing while holding the device in both hands and typing with both hands while the device is lain down. And the final design as see on the Preview builds of Windows 8, supports all three scenarios.
This is a very important area in any tablet it is important to remember that Windows is the dominant OS in the world, which also makes it the dominant OS for individual productivity. So if Microsoft is to convince the workaholic Windows user (of which there are many and they are the moneyed class), Microsoft had to address this issue.
To achieve the maximum amount of ergonomic comfort, Microsoft ran a test where users were given special tablets that measured the comfort zones for the fingers and thumbs. Using this data, Microsoft devised a map of typing comfort (as seen in the image above). This helped Microsoft make sure important and frequently used keys were always within close reach.
Like most other devices on the market, the Windows 8 onscreen keyboard also has visual, haptic (vibration) and audio feedback for each keystroke. The last two can be turned off. Put together, it sounds like a promising new keyboard for the coming generations that will grow up on tablets.