Recently, Apple announced its newest Macbook Pro that is designed to introduce touch to the line. However, the touch capability is situated at the top of the keyboard and not on the screen. Microsoft for its own devices, have chosen to add touchscreen instead, but was that always the idea?
We went digging and came across an interesting video that shows Microsoft was working on a keyboard it calls Adaptive Keyboard back in 2010 that incorporated a Touchbar – similar to what Apple has done with the 2016 version of the Macbook Pro. It’s not quite as advanced, but the idea was there, it just never made it to market.
What’s an Adaptive Keyboard? It is a research prototype developed by Microsoft Hardware to explore how combining display and input capabilities in a keyboard can allow users to be more productive. The keyboard incorporates a large, touch-sensitive display strip at the top. In addition, the display continues underneath the keys, allowing the legends to be modified in real time. This lets you do things like change the character set to a different language or display command icons.
We should bear in mind that at the time, Microsoft was not making its own computers, but it was in the business of releasing its own mouse and keyboards. It only means the company did not view a touchscreen on a keyboard as a viable option.
It may take up to 5 years to find out if Apple or Microsoft made the right choice in their respective decisions. The touchscreen on the Surface Studio and Surface Pro are no doubt excellent ideas, and the same may or may not be said for the Touchbar on the 2016 Macbook Pro.