Microsoft’s acquisition spree has reached N-trig, a competitor of Wacom’s and developer of the Surface Pro 3’s pen technology. With this deal, Microsoft now has bets spread across all manner of methods of user interaction with software.
Mouse and keyboard – Old, trusted, and reliable, the mouse and keyboard had a rough time during the Windows 8 era. The hype around touchscreens had many prematurely shouting the death knell for the tried and tested interaction method, including Microsoft. With Windows 10, the pair get the attention they deserve, whenever they deserve it.
Touch – Still a giant part of Microsoft’s future. Besides the fact that many of Microsoft’s apps are great experiences on iOS and Android devices, Windows has continually refined this paradigm as well. While some may say Windows 10 takes focus away from touch, you could also argue that touch is being more smoothly integrated with the “Windows” way of interaction. Of course, this is also the primary method of interaction with Windows phone devices, tablets, and the Surface Hub.
Voice – A difficult proposition, voice interaction has progressed leaps and bounds during recent years. Cortana exemplifies this well, with integration across all Windows devices and even Office.
Pen – Microsoft has always been serious about the pen, a recent WSJ article and the N-trig acquisition only confirming this focus. With the pen, flexibility is given to artists and note takers how want to transition to using digital but are wary of losing that tactile pen and paper experience. N-trig should help develop Surface’s pen offering even further.
Gestures – The ugly stepchild, Microsoft spent quite a few years hyping Kinect as the next big thing for consumers. Unfortunately, several baffling decisions have led to its decline. There is still hope, as Microsoft is rumored to be working on a 3D Touch system that would help differentiate its flagship Lumia devices. Kinect also remains a presence for more specialist fields due to its Windows API.
Holograms – While too early to judge its impact on the field of computing, few could argue that Microsoft isn’t a leader when it comes to this futuristic technology.
Having top-class talent working on each of these methods means that Microsoft is ready to ride the wave for whatever becomes popular with whichever group of consumers and businesses.