Windows 8 developer David Washington has insisted that the next generation OS is not built to be landscape first, despite the early showings from the company almost exclusively focusing on that orientation.
Windows 8 is designed form the ground up to be tablet friendly, but whereas rivals like Apple’s iOS and Android build on their phone roots and are often shown first in portrait, it’s debut at the Build conference used a lot of landscape demonstrations.
Washington explained that this was a lot to do with the fact that Windows 8 is also for our laptops and desktops, but insisted portrait was a vital part of the design.
Why so much landscaping?
“Some people have asked why we showed so much of the Windows 8 user interface in landscape at the Build conference,” blogged Washington.
“Windows 8 is a reimagining of all PCs, and it’s not just for tablets. It will run on hundreds of millions of laptops and desktops (designed for Windows 7 and new for Windows 8), many of which are and will be landscape-only.
“We’ve received questions and feedback about whether Windows 8 is “landscape first” or “portrait first.” Our point of view is that both portrait and landscape orientations are important, and experiences can be great in either orientation.
“Rather than picking a posture and orientation for optimization, we designed an experience that makes sense regardless of how the device is held, one that feels tailored for the app and its content.”
Two thumbs up
Washington explained that a lot of the touch gestures are designed to be thumb friendly and explains the decision to optimize for horizontal scrolling.
“We’ve designed Windows 8 to be ergonomically comfortable in all orientations. We found that a comfortable posture for using a tablet in landscape is to hold in both hands and touch the screen with your thumbs, he added.
“For this reason, we’ve designed the majority of the experience to be easily accessible under your thumbs.
“We also optimized the system to scroll horizontally, which feels fast and fluid in landscape as well as in portrait mode.”