Microsoft researcher sees keyboards slowly fading into a niche accessory

Brad Reed

Microsoft Keyboard Touch Screen Trends
Microsoft Keyboard Touch Screen Trends

Microsoft has always placed a lot of importance on hooking things up to a keyboard — witness Steve Ballmer’s prediction that the iPhone would flop because it lacked a physical keyboard or the company’s decision to make a click-in keyboard an integral part of its Surface tablet. But PCWorld reports that Microsoft’s own principal researcher Andy Wilson knows that keyboards are now past their prime and will be relegated to niche status going forward.

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In their place will be a mixture of touch displays, voice commands and eye-tracking technology that will perform a lot of the important tasks that we still perform using keyboards. The good news is that Microsoft is making a big push into all of these areas, not just with the touch capabilities it added with Windows 8 but with the voice and gesture commands its added to its next-generation Xbox One Kinect sensor.

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“Eventually, [keyboards] will become more of a niche thing, like programmers for example,” Wilson said. “You could almost see that with the workstation market. Workstations are going to be these altars to extreme computing, visualization, computational power, Visual Studio. And only a small percentage of users do that.”

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