One developer has changed the face of Windows 7 to improve its touch based user interface.
Justin Campana, who is interested in tablet computing, decided to take Windows 7 and improve it. “Tablets have been my main interest for the last couple of years,” explains Campana in an email to WinRumors. The eager developer created a DIY carbon fiber tablet last year which runs Windows 7. “I started working on the carbon fiber tablet before the iPad was even announced,” he explains. “Once the iPad came out it was clear that this was going to be a major shift in how we interact with technology. I now have an iPad, Android tablet and Windows tablet…all have their strengths and weaknesses.”
One of the weaknesses of Windows tablets is the frustrating user interface, designed mainly for mouse and keyboard computing. Microsoft produced a number of improvements inside Windows 7 for touch based computing, however most people argue that they didn’t go far enough. “The main issue with the Windows tablet is that the out-of-the-box touch experience is lacking compared to competitors,” says Campana. “That’s how this project got started,” he adds. Campana has optimized Windows 7 for touch an ASUS Eee Slate EP121-1A011M 12.1-Inch Tablet PC. The developer focused on four key areas - Windows Settings, Docks, Widgets and Applications:
- Change Control Panel view. In the Control Panel select “Large Icons” in the “View by:” field.
- Make applications open Maximized. If you have any apps that always open windowed when you would like them to open maximized, just right click on the shortcut for the app, go to “Properties” and choose “Maximized” from the “Run:” menu on the “Shortcut” tab.
- Make folders show List View. I have found it much easier to deal with folders when they are showing the List View instead of Icons or Tiles. Screen real estate on a tablet is scarce, so this means you don’t always have to scroll to find what you are looking for. And it is still easy to click on files/folders when they are in the List View. To set all of your folder of a certain type to List View open your C: in an Explorer window and choose “List” from the view drop down. Now go to the “Organize” drop down and go to “Folder and Search Options”. Now go to the “View” tab and push the “Apply to Folders” button. This will make all similar folders display List View. This will not affect different folder types such as Pictures, Music, etc.
- Auto-hide the Taskbar. You can see in my demo that I have the taskbar auto-hidden and on the right side. The reason for this is screen real estate. The small screens on tablets mean every inch counts and since I have docks now, I don’t really need the taskbar all that much.
The result is an interface that is a lot more slick for general applications in Windows 7, rather than just a custom UI built on top of Windows. “With a few simple changes Windows 7 becomes touch friendly and more fun to use,” says Campana. We hope Microsoft is watching because Windows 8 needs similar improvements to really push Microsoft’s vision of a full flavour of Windows across multiple device types. Check-out the video demonstration below and how to download all the various pieces required at Campana’s blog here.