Is the Future Desktop a 40’’ Tablet?

Source: Huffington TechPost

by Grégory Roekens, Chief Technology Officer, AMV BBDO

There isn’t a day that passes without an article talking about the demise of PC and desktop computing in favour of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.

While it’s pretty obvious this is happening for ‘casual’ computing like browsing the web, shopping, sending emails or update social status, is this also true for power users such as business users and office workers that still heavily relies on their desktop to do their day to day job?

Using deductive reasoning and a little bit of intuition, I’m going to attempt to demonstrate that the future desktop could actually be a 40’’ tablet on legs (or tableg).

Deductive reasoning

The next version of Windows operating system (Windows 8) will introduce a new touch-based interface called ‘Metro UI’ alongside the well-known windows based system we’re all familiar with.

Metro UI is effectively the answer to Apple iOS and how Microsoft intends to penetrate the tablet market, following on the success of the metro style initially introduced on Windows Phone 7 and more recently on the Xbox.

Microsoft could have decided to keep the Metro UI for touch-based (or gesture-based) devices only. Instead they decided to also introduce it as part of the main desktop experience, and actually made it the default landing interface (that’s where you land when you boot up). One can argue that Windows 8 is effectively a transitioning version and we could see the desktop UI disappear altogether in a future version of Windows.

Now obviously Metro UI doesn’t necessarily mean touches only. It still works very well with a mouse (well make sure it’s got the wheel otherwise it gets pretty tiring very quickly having to use the horizontal scrollbar all the time) but there’s no two ways about it: Metro UI is optimised for touch interaction first, mouse second.

So if Microsoft is effectively saying: “The future of Human Machine Interface (HMI) is Natural User Interface (NUI) through touch, speech and gestures” then are traditional desktop hardware fit for purpose?

The answer is NO. Why? The desktop screen stands too far from the user and is too vertical. My home desktop is an all-in-one touchscreen computer which I’ve had it since 2008. I probably use the touchscreen 10-20% of the time and the main reason I don’t use it more is ‘arm-fatigue’. I like using the touchscreen a lot but with your arms effectively hanging in the air you very quickly find yourself reaching back for the mouse to rest your arm.

So if traditional desktop hardware is not right for touch interaction, are tablets the answer?

The answer is almost. While tablets are optimised for touches and provide a greater and more natural experience, the problem is size. Most power users need more than 10’’ screen ‘real-estate’ whether to help compare objects side-by-side or multitask.

So if traditional desktop and current tablet hardware aren’t ergonomically fit for purpose for the majority of power-users then it is fair to say that the future desktop hardware doesn’t actually exist yet. But then what could it look like?

Out-of-the-box thinking: “The Tableg”

Thinking outside the box how about ditching your desk, replace it with the highly successful tablet concept, increase its size to 40 or 50 inches and add legs under it. Tada you’re now sitting in front of a tableg.

 on legs (or tableg).


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