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Blog post explains why Windows 8 consumer preview may not work so well with older touch hardware.

Microsoft on the defensive over Windows 8 touch

Microsoft has shed some light on how Windows 8 will handle older lower spec touch screen hardware, promising that new Windows 8 PCs will offer the best touch screen experience.

In a new post on Microsoft’s Building Windows 8 Blog, the software giant emphasised that Windows 8 will work on current touch hardware but cautioned that Microsoft’s touch hardware specifications for Windows 8 were considerably higher than the average touch screen hardware.

One example is that new Windows 8 PCs require touch digitisers that are capable of recording five simultaneous touch events although the ‘fundamental’ gestures just required two. Microsoft said that the 5 finger requirement was implemented due to developer requests not to limit the range of possible gestures used in future touch user interfaces.

The blog post went on to manage expectations of the current consumer preview with existing touch screen hardware by pointing out that limitations such as jitter and lack of consistent sensitivity. Microsoft described the engineering efforts to minimise these drawbacks but there’s only so far they could go.

Among the touch events that could be problematic on older touch digitisers are individual taps, swipe to select, swipe and slide and swipe from edge – many of which hampered by slow response rates of touch hardware.

Earlier Microsoft research had released a video showing how faster touch hardware would significantly enhance touch interfaces, suggesting that response rate is something Microsoft is particularly concerned about.

The latest Building Windows 8 blog post strikes a different tone from former posts that described upcoming new features, this time striking something of a defensive tone – likely aimed at patchy critical reviews of Microsoft’s new Metro interface coupled with touch hardware.

The firm even helpfully suggested a list of PCs which had suitable performance touch hardware such as the HP Elitebook 2760p convertible and the Asus EP121 tablet.

The unwritten implication seems to be that tech pundits should look to these devices to evaluate how Microsoft is getting on in the all-important transition to touch.

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