Decisive changes in Windows 11 should make the operation of the operating system with the finger as efficient as with the mouse. Does the promise work out?
Microsoft has removed the tablet mode from Windows 10 in Windows 11 (here for the mega test). Based on the connected hardware, the operating system detects whether you are using a physical keyboard or whether you need the on-screen keyboard to type. Microsoft promises more comfort for touch-sensitive displays when waking Windows from sleep mode.
Windows 11 free: Buy Win10 Pro for only 49.99 euros and upgrade to Windows 11 for free
In Windows 10, it was still necessary to press a key. Windows 11 can bring tablets and notebooks out of sleep with the “Wake on Touch” function by touching the screen – Apple’s iPad Pro and newer smartphones send their regards. Touching the touchpad as a mouse replacement on the keyboard also wakes up the device. Both wake-up methods require appropriate hardware, older touchscreens and touchpads do not react as desired.
Larger finger tolerance range: Windows 11 is more accurate
Sitting on the sofa and surfing the web with a Windows tablet is no great pleasure on a device with Windows 10. Buttons and controls have to be hit exactly with the fingertip in order to perform a function. Often you are wrong and it doesn’t happen what was intended. Operation on the Apple iPad is much smoother and more intuitive, because the user almost always hits the desired button there. The reason for this is the much more skilful contact surface evaluation in the iPad-OS operating system.
Microsoft has made improvements in Windows 11 and enlarged the response area for touch control. You can now also tap lightly next to the X button in the top right to close an app. Windows can also be moved, enlarged and reduced more easily because Windows 11 takes touch within a certain tolerance range into account. The operation on a touchscreen seems smoother overall.
This is how Windows 11 shows you the new tolerance zone
Windows 11 visualizes the tolerance range when moving a window with a gray transparency zone outside the window frame. You will find out how imprecise you can type in order to still be accurate.
Open any window such as Explorer on the desktop without maximizing it. Now place your finger a few millimeters above the window title bar on the display. If you are within the tolerance range, Windows 11 shows a gray bar to indicate the contact zone. If you place your finger in the upper right corner of the window slightly outside of the X button on the display, Windows 11 will mark both the horizontal and the vertical tolerance zone. A new feature for touchscreen users is the slightly larger spacing between the icons on the taskbar. The extra space should increase the accuracy.
The new tolerance zones and the larger space between symbols hardly change the basic problem that only a few Windows applications are touch-optimized. The developers of Chrome, Firefox, Libreoffice, image viewers such as Irfanview, system tools and so on focus on controlling with keyboard and mouse under Windows – and not with touch. Accordingly, navigation buttons, menu areas and elements provided for navigation are not optimally geared towards finger actions. Programs like Firefox and Chrome, which are available for Windows and iPad OS, are more ergonomic on the iPad.
Gesture control on the touchscreen and touchpad
Microsoft promises the same gestures for touchscreens and touchpads. According to the Group’s ideas, it should make no difference how you enter the finger gestures. At the start of Windows 11, however, touchscreen users do not yet benefit from the full comfort of gestures. On a touchpad, for example, you can open the task view by placing it on the touchpad and swiping it with three fingers to quickly switch to the program in the foreground. This doesn’t work on the touchscreen on our Surface tablet.
With the basic gestures, everything stays the same: A quick tap on the display corresponds to a click with the left mouse button, two touches in quick succession lead to a double-click. Touch and hold the screen with your finger for two seconds, then release and right-click. If you tap on the desktop for a longer time, the context menu opens.
The newly introduced widget bar can be reached by swiping from the left edge of the screen towards the center. To minimize a window, drag the title bar down with three fingers. Dragging down with four fingers on top minimizes all open windows. Swiping up from the bottom of the screen with four fingers opens the Task View. Here you can see which apps are open and control the virtual desktops
Advantages of pen input under Windows 11
Pen users benefit from the improved pen workspace in Windows 11. You can access it via the pen icon in the system tray or by pressing the button on the pen. Up to four apps with pen operation can be pinned, Windows suggests suitable apps.
You can find the specifications for the pen in the “Settings” app of Windows 11 under “Bluetooth & Devices” and “Pen and Windows Ink”. Here you define your writing hand and the actions when you touch the display and press the pen button. You can also find the specifications for handwriting recognition in the menu.
Personalize the on-screen keyboard
A new feature in Windows 11 is the adaptation of the on-screen keyboard for touch input to the needs of the user. In the revised operating system, you specify the size of the keyboard and the typing area of the individual keys. You can also change the design of the virtual keyboard. To do this, go to the “On-Screen Keyboard” item in the “Settings” app under “Personalization”. Use the slider at the top to set the keyboard size between 20 and 200 percent. Below are preview images of the color designs from “Light” and “Dark” to “Color Pop” and “Mohrot” to “Tangerine Tides” and “Lilac River”. For your own color scheme, select “User-defined” and click on “Edit”. Good: If you do not like the touchscreen keyboard after the size and color adjustments have been made, you can return to the factory settings with “Reset”.
Windows 11 improves the comfort of touchscreen entries via the on-screen keyboard. In the settings, you can adjust the size and design of the virtual keypad according to your needs.
With the button “button background” you deactivate the light, rectangular background of the individual buttons. Without the key background, the key lettering appears directly on the keypad and the look is reduced. However, there is no orientation as to where a certain key extends and where the adjacent key begins. When trying it out, we found it difficult to type without the assisting highlighting of the key surfaces.
In the “Key text size” drop-down box, you expand the key area, the individual keys then appear larger. The options “Small”, “Medium” and “Large” are available. With the button “Open keyboard” Windows 11 shows a preview of your adjustments. So you can easily weigh up whether the set size and the other parameters meet your requirements.
In the preview, you can easily check whether you like the settings for the on-screen keyboard or whether you need to lend a hand again.
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