The Windows 8 Touch Experience – Perspective from Microsoft’s Nick Parker

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Windows 8 is designed to be great with touch. It’s one of the key reasons we have been excited to offer an array of touch-based systems running Windows 8 to customers. While touch has been the standard input method for smartphones and tablets, there’s something to be said about using touch on a laptop or even a desktop when paired with a touch-enabled display like Dell’s S2340T. Touch offers a more intuitive, more immersive experience.

Microsoft's Nick Parker - Corporate Vice President, OEM DivisionDell as a company has been focused on bringing an array of touch to market from straightforward touch-enabled systems like our Inspiron R series, or the XPS 27 All-in-One to hybrid devices like the convertible XPS 12 Ultrabook or the XPS 18, the thinnest and lightest all-in-one desktop available, or tablets like the XPS 10 and the Latitude 10. There will be more coming as well.

Enough from me. I recently got a chance to ask Nick Parker, Microsoft’s corporate vice president, OEM Division, a few questions about touch on Windows 8 PCs. Here’s what he had to say:

How was Windows 8 designed to bring the power of touch mainstream?

Microsoft is no stranger to touch, we’ve been bringing touch to devices for years. Windows 8 was designed as a touch-first experience, enabling new computing scenarios and rich interactive experiences for both consumers and businesses. Of course Windows 8 supports other inputs as well such as ink, mouse and keyboard. We continue to work closely with hardware manufacturers to ensure their new PCs and tablets deliver the latest innovations that take full advantage of touch and all the new capabilities in Windows 8.

How does the Windows 8 touch experience help to enable hardware innovation and an unparalleled touch experience?

The Windows development team considered everything from the user experience, the app store, the developer platform, to the components and next generation of chipsets. Touch has OEMs thinking about hardware design in a different way, allowing them to deliver devices with experiences customers love in a wide range of unique form factors. The XPS 27 All-in-One is a great example of innovation with a quad HD display, and a stand that tilts the display to a 60-degree angle, providing additional ways to interact with the touchscreen. This opens up a world of scenarios, for both work and play.

Now that Windows 8 has been in the market for a while, what are you hearing from customers about their experience with touch overall?

We’ve seen unmatched levels of awareness and interest in Windows with Windows 8, both for the OS and for the new PCs and tablets. We have sold 100 million Windows 8 licenses and there have been 250 million Store apps downloaded in the first six months.

We’ve seen that once customers start using touch on Windows 8, their satisfaction scores, PC exploration and app usage all increase. Now that customers have used touch, they are reaching out and trying to touch their non-touch devices. We are starting to see a fundamental shift with touch becoming a more standard input. Soon people will not remember a time with then could not touch to interact with all of their devices at work and at home.

How has touch influenced product designs from your perspective?

We are seeing more creative hardware designs that enable rich touch experiences across tablets, detachables, convertibles, notebooks and all-in-ones. Microsoft has worked with PC engineers to think differently about how components are integrated with customers now touching and holding devices, such as where to place speakers so the sound doesn’t get muffled or changing the hinge to ensure the display holds up to the pressure of a touch screen. A great example of this is the Dell XPS 12 that combines the productivity of a laptop and the ease of a tablet with a unique hinge to allow easy switching between the two.

What’s next for the Windows touch experience?

Technology is continually evolving and advancing to meet demand and it is great to see our OEM partners continuing to innovate on hardware with touch. Microsoft continues to evolve the software touch capabilities as well, with updates coming later this year and beyond. Windows 8.1 will build on the vision set forward with Windows 8, which was designed to address mobile computing and touch experiences. Windows 8.1 will be a free update to Windows 8 customers through the Windows Store. No matter the form factors, touch or non-touch, laptops or tablet, customers will experience Windows and Windows devices getting better every day.

Thanks to Nick for taking the time to discuss how Windows 8 touch capabilities enable new hardware innovation. If you have questions or comments, drop me a line below. Otherwise you can ping me at @LionelatDell on Twitter and connect with Microsoft at @MicrosoftOEM.

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Here's Nick Parker's bio:

As corporate vice president of the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) Division at Microsoft Corp., Nick Parker oversees worldwide sales, marketing and licensing of pre-installed Windows operating systems on mobile and embedded devices, personal computers, and servers produced by OEMs and system builders.

In this role, Parker is also responsible for the pre-installation of Microsoft applications on OEM- and system builder-produced hardware and the relationship between Microsoft and the original device manufacturers that engineer, design and build mobile and embedded devices, personal computers and servers for OEMs, as well as the relationships with device and telecommunication distributors.

Before this role, Parker was the vice president of Worldwide Marketing for Microsoft Corp.’s OEM Division. Parker was responsible for defining and executing worldwide marketing strategies, programs and campaigns with OEMs to achieve mutual business objectives and customer satisfaction.

 Prior to that, Parker served as the general manager of Worldwide Sales for HP at Microsoft, responsible for the worldwide HP and Microsoft product portfolio, sales and marketing strategy, and resultant revenue and investments.

From 2003 to 2007, Parker built and managed the sales and technical teams to execute solution development and field sales programs with Dell, EMC, HP, Fujitsu, NEC, Hitachi, IBM and Unisys. From 2000 to 2003, he worked as director of Systems Integrator Partnerships for Microsoft, leading a team of business development managers to create and sell service offerings on the Microsoft platform with companies such as KPMG, Cap Gemini, PwC and Lucent Technologies.

Parker has been in the IT industry for 22 years, working for Olivetti, Research Machines and Visio before joining Microsoft.

Parker lives in Washington with his wife and their daughter. Parker enjoys amateur engineering and has co-developed two sports equipment patents in the U.K.

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