We’ve been over this. But many of you felt the need to argue — passionately — about the fate of an input device we all use today: the mouse. I say it’s dead. Well not dead, dead — yet. But the wheels are clearly in motion. Many disagree. And I thought it was worth bringing up again upon seeing the demo video that Microsoft put out there for Windows 8.
I mean, does anyone still think the mouse isn’t dead?
I can understand that after Apple put a gun to the head of the mouse with the release of the Magic Trackpad, people were skeptical. “Apple has basically no market share!,” was the basis of most of the basic arguments. The bigger point was that we’re moving into a world where touch is king, lead by the smartphones and tablets. These devices are going to start influencing our more traditional computers, not the other way around.
But still, many were quick to argue that the PC will never go mouse-less. Which is silly. In fact, it’s going to next year. And Microsoft — yes, Microsoft! — is leading that charge.
Sure, they point out in the video that the Windows 8 interface can still be used with a mouse. But that’s laughable. Watch what they’re doing in those videos. How are you going to do some of those gestures with a mouse? And even the ones you can do, it will be a thousand times harder than if you just use touch gestures. Microsoft admits that Windows 8 is designed for touch.
Others have argued about the ergonomics. No way touchscreen computers replace the more comfortable mouse-on-the-desktop paradigm, right? Those people aren’t thinking about this deeply enough. It’s not just about directly manipulating a screen via touch, it will be about using touch pads as well that reside on desktops. You know, like the Magic Trackpad.
We’re about the see the first real step in this post-mouse direction in a few weeks. When OS X Lion is released, it will quickly become apparent that it’s much better suited for users with trackpads rather than users with mice. I suspect Apple will start selling more Magic Trackpads as a result. (There’s a reason the in-store iMacs now have Magic Trackpads as the standard.)
And again, this goes deeper. OS X Lion has been billed by Apple as OS X meets iOS. A big part of this intersection is touch. This is the way that upcoming generations are going to grow up using computers. Hell, in just one year, the iPad has already broken my brain with regard to input controls. I keep trying to touch my MacBook screen to scroll — it’s driving me insane. OS X Lion will alleviate some of the pain.
While it will die as the primary input method for computing, the mouse will continue to reside for many years as a precision tool. It’s something that graphical designers and hardcore gamers will continue to pray at the alter of (or trackballs, I suppose). But the rest of us will be touching our data, our apps, the web, etc. And this early look at Windows 8 is nothing if not an admission of that.
The mouse had a good run. But it’s over.